Meet our New Research & Evaluation Manager, Kaley Feenstra!
Our Research and Data Science Team is growing quickly with the addition of several new staff members. This week, we’re excited to introduce you to Kaley Feenstra, our new Research and Evaluation Manager. Kaley brings a great deal of experience to our team, and we’re excited to expand our capacity. We asked Kaley a few questions to help get to know her a bit better as she gets started here at Visible Network Labs. Take a read below!
What originally made you interested in working at VNL?
If I were to use one word to describe VNL it would be innovative— and that word is exactly what sparked my interest in working here! I have never seen any organization using relational analytics and network science to address and improve mental health, health and wellness outcomes through social connectedness. I think this work is so important and because I have worked in many different health and wellness industries I know how much the PARTNER and PARTNERme platforms could serve communities and organizations in a meaningful way!
What's your job title and what will you be doing here?
I am the Research and Evaluation Manager at VNL. I am on the Data Science team and will primarily be focusing on project management and client communications, as well as data collection, analysis, report writing, and quality improvement projects.
Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
My biggest inspiration is my family, specifically my parents. I wouldn’t be who I am today without their unconditional love, guidance and support. They have taught my brothers and I the meaning of hard work, to never give up and to always work towards being a better version of yourself. My late grandmother, Martha, also inspires me. She fought cancer for over 30 years, but did so with a smile on her face and unwavering faith. My soon to be husband also inspires me daily. He is one of the hardest working people I know and brings out the best in me. I probably could keep listing people I find inspirational, but the last one I will share is Brené Brown. I read her books Daring Greatly and Beyond the Wilderness and I was incredibly inspired and touched by them. She highlights the power of vulnerability in leadership and in your personal life, which I think is so important in today’s society that often portrays being vulnerable as weakness.
What's the best place you've traveled to?
This is a hard one…I think that every place you go has something special to offer and for me it is much more about the person you are sharing the experience with rather than the place itself. If I had to pick one right now it would probably be Belize. This was a stop on a Caribbean Cruise my now fiancé and I did a couple years ago. We were supposed to see a Mayan ruin, but the tour we were supposed to go on left without us….even though we were on time!
Anyways, we still wanted to make the most of our day, so we signed up for a last minute cave river tubing excursion. It ended up being so much fun and the caves were absolutely amazing! We brought a waterproof disposable camera which we hadn’t used in many years and it was fun to take pictures and crossing our fingers they would turn out. We ended our day looking at local pop-up gift shops that were set up after our cave excursion and bought some local cashew wine to try later. The scenery on the drive to the caves was beautiful and it inspired us to want to go back to Belize so that we can dive The Great Blue Hole. I think what this experience reinforced is that an unexpected change of plans is bound to happen when you travel and being able to adapt and still make the most of your time is so important! We laughed a lot and now have a memory we will never forget!
Where did you work previously, and what did you do there?
My most recent position was funded by the City of Boulder’s Health Equity Fund, where I worked as a Health and Wellness Program Manager at an Elementary school in Boulder. I was responsible for planning, implementing and evaluating a novel health and wellness program aimed at increasing physical activity, increasing consumption of healthy foods/beverages, decreasing the risk of chronic diseases and improving positive health outcomes for the cities most at risk and marginalized youth. I was in charge of managing the grant, as well as delivering and reporting on specific program outcomes and activities listed in the scope of work. This required data tracking, evaluation and reporting through mid-year and final reports. I collected data using both quantitative and qualitative techniques and through my data collection I was able to develop metrics to evaluate the program effectiveness and then use that data to create an action plan and continually inform my decisions moving forward. In this position I was constantly connecting and collaborating with various stakeholders and direct service providers to create more health equity opportunities for students and their families. I like to say “I wore a lot of hats” because I had a diverse range of responsibilities and duties, from coordinating food delivery to food-insecure families, connecting low-income students to sports scholarships to creating health and wellness lessons and events.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new role here at VNL?
As the Research and Evaluation Manager my goal is to have our partners feel like I am an extension of their team. I am the type of person who becomes deeply connected to the organization’s mission and goals and this allows me to identify unique insights and opportunities for growth to address their most pressing organizational needs/goals, as well as their desired outcomes. I hope to quickly take the lead on new projects and initiatives and be the main point of contact and resource for our partners. I plan to draw from my previous work experience to identify unique trends and opportunities within the analysis process and provide meaningful reports that communicate complex ideas into easy to understand concepts.
Welcome to the Team, Kaley!
If you’re a partner or client of ours, you’ll likely meet Kaley at an upcoming project meeting or event. Make sure you say hello and ask her about her first month here at Visible Network Labs. VNL is hiring several new team members this month. Click here to meet our new Data Scientist Dr. Rose Hardy, and click here to meet our Full Stack Software Engineer, Josh.
About the Author: Alex Derr, M.P.A.
Director of Marketing & Communications
Alex joined VNL in 2017, originally supporting our events. He now helps manages our communications and marketing strategy and content development work. Alex creates blogs, infographics, reports, and other content while managing our web and social media presence. He also runs our email marketing campaigns, tracks analytics, and conducts market research to drive our strategy. He supports our entire team with copywriting, graphic design and research, and helps with events, webinars, demos, and other online learning. When he isn’t at work Alex spends his time climbing 14ers (24 done, 34 to go!) and blogging on his own website, The Next Summit Blog.
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