Conference and event presentations

University of Arizona Keynote: Designing, building, and sustaining learning communities

Data2insight founder, Veronica S. Smith, provided the closing keynote address at the University of Arizona (UA) Restruct Built Environment Research Symposium: Designing, building, and sustaining multicultural learning communities on December 12, 2019. She shared her thoughts on how multicultural team science is vital to creating multicultural learning communities and building resilient communities around the world. As a UA alum, Veronica was especially honored to be part of this visionary work that has the potential to contribute to people’s ability to not only survive climate change, but also thrive.

A PDF of the slide deck can be found here: UA Restruct Keynote
Learn more about Restruct: University of Arizona – Restruct

The Restruct Built Environment Research initiative is organized around four grand challenges defined by Arizona faculty in cross-campus workshops. These grand challenges are not intended to exist in silos and are, by their nature, integrated and transdisciplinary:

Redress Inequality/Injustice in re-envisioning the Built Environment

  1. Redressing inequality and injustice through the built environment
  2. Guaranteeing equality and justice in human-environ interactions in the built environment
  3. Provide equitable interior urban spaces to meet the basic human conditions e.g. housing, water, etc.
  4. Accessibility and connectedness

Create Resilient and Efficient Urban and Rural Systems

  1. Redesigning systems for a more resilient future (with fewer resources)
  2. Design the built environment to adapt to and mitigate climate change, optimize livability, and movement
  3. Create efficient urban food systems
  4. Achieve net-zero resource consumption in the built environment
  5. Integrate water management on multiple scales
  6. Decarbonization, dematerialization, and circular metabolisms

Design for Optimal Heath

  1. Link health, wellness & social interactions to built environment design & operations to address major health needs across age, SES, disabilities, & occupations
  2. Design human-machine interfacing to optimize both work efficiency & human health
  3. Aging with human dignity and independence through built-environments that promote connected community (connect to Health)
  4. Design for health in increasingly extreme environments

Enable Innovation Through Better Decision-Making & Data Analysis

  1. Create decision support systems that effectively integrate public values & scientific information
  2. Interdisciplinary, mixed-method, data-driven evaluation to foster innovation in the Built Environment
  3. Promote evidence-based governance
  4. Leverage big data analytics for decision-making

Building Diverse and Inclusive Teams

July 23, 2019
by Insight Data Science

About this Event

Building and retaining diverse and inclusive teams is no longer simply desirable — it’s become a must-have for both large and small companies.

Join fellow hiring managers, their talent acquisition partners and others with influence over the hiring process for a Tuesday, July 23 panel discussion on Building Diverse and Inclusive Data Teams in Seattle.

On the panel to discuss strategies and best practices for hiring and retaining diverse and inclusive data teams will be:

  • Salehah Hassan, Recruiting Manager at Airbnb
  • Nicole Maddox, Founder and CEO of Flywheel Talent Strategy
  • Anthony Ritoli, Head of Talent at Assurance
  • Veronica Smith, Data Scientist and Founder at data2insight

Some resources for people wanting to build more antiracist and multicultural organizations:

  1. Assess where your organization is on the multicultural spectrum: 2 documents (Continuum and Multicultural Org ID Model) that you can use with your team to identify where your team/org is from monocultural to multicultural. Understanding where your organization is on this spectrum, will help you and your allies to make better informed decisions about next steps in your efforts to reduce racism and sexism and increase multiculturalism.
  2. Failing to plan is planning to fail: This is a super simple DEI strategic planning tool, which is good, because the DEI problem is super complex, and it is good to take baby steps—maybe start with a 6-month plan. You want the step your team decides to take tied to a plan that you can share broadly so folks know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how you are going to measure progress against goals, and learn and improve. Doing a workshop here and there on implicit bias and calling it good is NOT the way to go. Plan first, then do, study, and improve based on what you learned.
  3. Consultants as a resource: Consider working with a consultant(s) to support you and your team in this process. Cultural change is an ultra-marathon. Having a coach who knows the evidence-based approaches for taking on this will save time, money, and prevent unnecessary damage to employee, client, and community relationships. Two that I have been impressed with are Cultures Connecting and RevDEI. And, of course, data2insight is doing some work in this space. We specialize in 1) collecting and analyzing employee data in rigorous, culturally responsive ways that ensures their privacy and builds trust, and 2) guiding leadership and management teams to be evidence-based, transparent and accountable as they cultivate and sustain a more multicultural organization.
  4. Start small: As you probably know, it is usually good to start small and very focused, and build from there, rather than put together a 5-year plan right out of the gate. Below are links to some info from a 2013 report from the Center for Talent Innovation that defines two dimensions of diversity and how they can contribute to increased innovation and market growth.
  5. The Strategic Approach to Org ID doc has a nice outline of a process of getting started within your orgs.

Hopefully this will help inform your work within your organizations to build more diversity, equity, and inclusion on your team.

If you are interested in learning more about how data2insight can help you and your organization cultivate multiculturalism, schedule a free consult with Veronica Smith by contacting or call (720) 939-4172.

PayScale Lunch and Learn: Reducing Bias in Data and People

Veronica S. Smith was invited by PayScale to discuss two issues their company focuses on daily: 1) reduction of bias in data and people to improve their company’s multiculturalism; and, 2) increased success with transforming compensation data into transparent, actionable knowledge that is mutually beneficial for employees, employers, and clients.

Key Takeaways

Focus on collective intelligence and learning

Peter Senge coined the phrase “learning organizations,” which he defined as an organization that encourages and facilitates learning in order to continually transform itself to survive and excel in a rapidly changing business environment.
Check out these videos to learn more about learning organizations:

Have courageous conversations

What is a courageous conversation?

There are many places on the web that reference the term “courageous conversation.” The source for the guidelines provided is Glenn E. Singleton’s and Curtis Linton’s field guide about courageous conversations about race. Singleton’s protocol was originally developed to support adults in having the conversations necessary to make progress on difficult subjects such as race, racism, ethnicity, and privilege. The intended result is a robust, experience-driven dialogue that deepens the group’s collective understanding while broadening each individual’s perspective. See the guidelines for courageous conversations that Veronica shared, which were adapted from the Singleton and Linton field guide.

What does ‘culturally responsive’ mean?

To be culturally responsive is to understand and consider the different cultural backgrounds of the people you interact with, are in relationships with, work with, teach, and serve.

Understanding intersectionality

Check out these resources on Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s concept of intersectionality:

Check out the diversity wheel developed at John Hopkins University to show the different dimensions of a person’s identity. The combinations of all of these dimensions influence a person’s values, beliefs, behaviors, experiences and expectations and make us all unique as individuals.

What is brave space?

Professor bell hooks is one of the people attributed with coining the term “brave space,” places where people passionately welcome and encourage, in theory and practice, diversity of opinion, new ideas, critical exchange, and dissent.

Increase your awareness and understanding of both people and data bias

For people

Award-winning entrepreneur, dynamic speaker, and author and diversity and inclusion expert Jennifer Brown explores this topic in her podcasts.

Whether to underscore support for workplace diversity and inclusion, to acknowledge LGBTQ Pride or History Month, to help advance the mission of groups that advocate for equality, or just because it’s a fascinating, award-winning movie — a showing of The Lavender Scare will be an enlightening and memorable occasion. There are several ways you can bring the power of The Lavender Scare to your community!

Increase your awareness and understanding of the Transgender community with these resources:

Cultures Connecting is a great resource for training about building antiracist and multicultural organizations.
Explore strategies for your workspace with Karen Catlin’s book: Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Creative Workspaces.

For data

Be transparent & accountable—be an evidence-based leader

Don’t miss these resources from Stacey Barr, the performance measure specialist:


Check out world-renowned game designer and author Dr. Jane McGonigal’s TED talks.

Jane McGonigal asks: Why doesn’t the real world work more like an online game? In the best-designed games, our human experience is optimized: We have important work to do, we’re surrounded by potential collaborators, and we learn quickly in a low-risk environment. In her work as a game designer, she creates games that use mobile and digital technologies to turn everyday spaces into playing fields, and everyday people into teammates.

Schedule a lunch and learn for your team or organization

Would you like Veronica to share with your group how to reduce bias in people and data? We would love to get that scheduled for you. Contact our Scheduling Guru Sarah Rowe at or (720) 939-4172.

2018 European Evaluation Society Conference

Data2insight founder Veronica Smith and strategic partner Antonella Guidoccio presented at the 2018 European Evaluation Society conference in Thessaloniki, Greece. We provide here information and resources to download from their round table sessions.

Focusing sessions: a stakeholder engagement and evaluation design method

When working with diverse communities, allowing time for stakeholder engagement is foundational to knowledge co-creation. A focusing session is a best practice that comes from theory-driven evaluation that contributes to better informed evaluation questions, which leads to more robust evaluation design, and findings that stakeholders value and use to inform decision making and action. It provides stakeholders with the opportunity to share with evaluators their goals, community and cultural context, understanding of their program, and desired impact. It also results in common understanding, and explicit, testable program theory, specific evaluation questions, and a framework for data collection and analysis. In this session, participants will walk through the focusing session steps including program theory validation. They will leave with a basic understanding of how a focusing session works, as well as a list of tools and resources they can apply in their own evaluation practice to engage stakeholders and increase use of evaluation findings.

Meaningful M&E systems through evidence-based leadership and evolutionary purpose

In this age of increasing complexity, rapid change, and demand for greater transparency and accountability from leaders the most successful teams of the future will excel at practical performance measurement and self-management. We are eager to share two frameworks with participants so they can use them to transform their mindset and practices, clarify and measure their organization’s mission, vision, and purpose, and use credible, actionable evidence to continually improve.

Objectives: One of the biggest challenges of putting in place a successful monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system is designing and defining meaningful measures that people use to improve program and team performance. This special activity shares concepts and tools to help evaluators and stakeholders:

  • to assess where their organizations are now in terms of producing and using meaningful evidence for improving performance; and
  • define the actions and changes needed to create learning organizations where teams are continually improving and achieving the results they truly desire.

Participants will leave with resources about, and a better understanding of: evidence based leadership, self organization and self management as well as how they can use these tools to become high performing teams.

It is common to see leaders and M&E units making the mistake of introducing practices (e.g. annual planning, KPI formulation processes, monthly reporting, and technological tools like performance dashboard) that soon are perceived as useless or complicated routines that do not provide useful performance measurement. Specifically, we have seen problems like teams and leaders who are unclear about their purpose, priorities and the results they want to achieve. Or leaders receiving misleading evidence and no actionable recommendations from KPIs. These problems often result in teams not using the data received through monitoring systems or not sharing data adequately. What a waste of time and money!

Rationale: How to get out of this trap? We draw from our team’s experience leveraging Performance Specialist Stacey Barr’s six habits of evidence based leaders and Frederic Laloux’s concepts in his book “Reinventing organizations” to show participants how to develop and implement a monitoring system that provides timely, relevant, credible, and actionable evidence that stakeholders could use to continually improve.

2018 UW Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Conference

This workshop for the 2018 UW Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) conference was designed to engage people in high school, college and early STEM careers in a conversation that results in greater understanding of best mentoring, internship, and sponsor practices for achieving STEM career goals faster and easier by strategically connecting and building mutually beneficial relationships with excellent professionals along the way.

Workshop Materials

Washington State Million Women Mentors Co-Chair Veronica S. Smith co-facilitated this workshop with Dr. Nnenia M. Campbell, a University of Colorado Natural Hazards Center Research Associate. Participants left better equipped to not only navigate the STEM education, training, and career maze, but also change the maze to be more inclusive and multicultural.

2016 American Evaluation Association Conference

Data2insight founder Veronica Smith has presented at the 2016 American Evaluation Association conference which took place in Atlanta. For those interested in Veronica’s work on dashboarding and focusing sessions, the presentations and handouts from both sessions are available here for download.

The latest dashboard research and sneak peek at an upcoming dashboarding field guide

Part of the multipaper panel titled “New Data Visualization Tools & Techniques to A+ Your Reporting”

Abstract: What is the knowledge base on dashboard design, build and use in performance/shared measurement, monitoring and evaluation? That’s what the folks at data2insight, led by data scientist Veronica S. Smith, will share: findings from a recent systematic literature review as well as interviews with practitioners and information design thought leaders about the current state of dashboard use and implications for the future. This work is being done in preparation for an upcoming field guide on dashboarding and measurement reporting (slated to be out in Fall 2017) authored by Ms. Smith for the Sage book series Evaluation in Practice.  We will also open up the conversation to hear our colleagues’ experiences, dashboard successes as well as challenges. Bring your dashboard stories and we might use them in the book! Take away a copy of the literature review and a deeper understanding of dashboarding and measurement reporting to inform your practice.

Focusing Sessions: A valuable stakeholder engagement and evaluation design tool

Abstract: Data2insight created ‘evaluation focusing sessions’ based on Stewart Donaldson’s process for developing program theory and formulating evaluation questions. These one-day (or two half-day) convenings are effective tools for engaging stakeholders in (1) creating common understanding of programs, (2) making program theory explicit and testable, (3) framing and prioritizing evaluation questions, and (4) providing a framework for data collection and analysis. This process informs a responsive, robust program evaluation design as well as establishing a strong foundation for evaluator-stakeholder co-creation of knowledge.

Data2insight will mock up and walk through the steps for planning and facilitating an engaging and effective focusing session. We will discuss benefits and limitations of those sessions, and how to secure stakeholder engagement.  You will receive a basic understanding of how a focusing session works, and a list of techniques and resources to apply in your evaluation practice.