We are pleased to announce a new arrival to our consulting team: Imogen Davis. Imogen’s areas of expertise include strategic planning, project management, program evaluation, data analysis, and grant writing. Here’s a little “get-to-know-you” conversation we’d like to share with you.
You have a well-rounded background! In addition to your career in the nonprofit sector, you are an accomplished pianist and did graduate work at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
What motivated me to pursue playing the piano was my love of music. I loved being inspired and moved by music and that’s still the case. My goal was to play professionally and I studied at a professional level, but it’s incredibly competitive, requiring significant life sacrifices – I’ve found I like more balance in my life. I have enjoyed passing along my knowledge to kids.
I’ve also found, that relative to consulting, when you have rigorous training in the arts you learn an incredible amount about collaboration and how to be open to criticism without being defensive. I have a pretty fierce work ethnic—which was essential when I was required to practice for hours and hours every day. I also learned how to listen and be extremely detailed in my preparation. There’s more crossover than you might think: In the study of music, you learn how to discern what the essential piece is out of a lot of complexity—what the essential line or drama of a piece is. I’ve found that discerning the essential elements, finding and articulating clarity of purpose, is often just what’s needed when working through various challenges with clients, especially in the facilitation of planning processes and collaboration. I place a value on creativity and work to foster an atmosphere of trust that allows for creative thinking.
What influenced your decision to pursue a Master’s in public and nonprofit administration?
Years ago, while I was managing a community music program in Minnetonka through community education, an opportunity came up to manage a Family Services Collaborative. These collaboratives bridge gaps between the school district, nonprofits, community agencies and local governments to address the needs of vulnerable children and families. As I got more engaged in that work and was diving into the intersection between education and human services, I wanted to bolster my knowledge of theory and practice. I did my master’s work during this time and encountered things at work that I was learning in class. This provided me an opportunity to have the theoretical along with practical, hands-on experience.
Can you share a project or client experience that you have found particularly rewarding?
I generally have enjoyed all my clients. However, one really rewarding experience was some work I did with the MN Museum of American Art. The objective was to expand the diversity of the museum’s audience through an arts access project. We began by looking at the different communities they wanted to engage more deeply. We collaborated with area libraries and put a plan in place to gather feedback from a really diverse audience on various topics such as their attitudes toward museums, their perceptions around culture, and how the museum or other museums recognized and integrated their cultural and artistic means of expression. The resulting data has informed and shaped the Museum’s approach to building a more diverse audience.
What kind of client work will you be doing with SCC?
I’ve done a lot of work in public health, human services, youth development, education, and the arts. I’m versatile. I can support our clients’ needs with program development and program evaluation, grant proposal writing (including federal grant proposals), project management, data analysis, and strategic planning. I’ve also done interim executive work. I’ve done tons of work with boards, budgets, and people. I’m also trained in the arts and have a background working with nonprofit arts and arts education organizations and have a good deal of experience articulating the community benefits of the arts sector. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute the various areas of my expertise to SCC and our clients and the people they serve.
And for fun . . . what is one of your favorite pieces of music to play?
Chopin‘s Fantaisie in F minor, Op. 49. It’s one of the most incredibly passionate pieces I can think of.