As part of welcoming our new director, Anjie Rosga, to the Informing Change family, I sat down with her to chat about what she’s bringing to our practice, why she’s committed to evaluation and learning and what makes the Bay Area home for her.
What most excites you about working at Informing Change?
The way Informing Change aligns its mission and values externally and internally makes it a great place to work. I’m excited to have a group of incredibly talented colleagues and be able to build team relationships across projects—I’m almost embarrassed when I go home and gush to my partner about how happy I am to be here.
What insights and tools from your past work are you bringing to our projects at Informing Change?
I’m looking forward to combining my interests in evaluation with critical thinking and openness to both conflict and surprise. Some of the most fascinating and productive moments I’ve had with clients are when people think they understand each other, but hit a wall when they realize they’ve been speaking in different terms all along. What one word or idea means to one person means something totally different to another—a kind of mistranslation.
There are instances of literal mistranslation between languages, but there are also broader areas where translation can go awry in the way we define our roles or describe our goals differently. Entire cultural assumptions can live in the different terms parties are using for the same idea—or the same term for different ideas. It’s uncomfortable to encounter, but this communication breakdown can really access the core of a conflict, and therefore point a way forward.
Consequently, I’m drawn to the idea of conflict-transformation over conflict-resolution. We may not learn to speak in exactly the same terms, and often, we’ll never be able to exactly translate each other’s meanings word-for-word, but we can find ways around these mistranslations that don’t discount either party’s perspectives. In using this process of finding those work-arounds, I hope to help our clients come out of these mistranslations and conflicts transformed and better informed.
What kind of work are you most drawn to?
I’m particularly interested in examining programs, workplaces, organizations or social contexts where power dynamics affect whose voices are being heard and whose are not, and then exploring how those dynamics can be shifted.
When I was a nonprofit director for an organization that lobbied the UN Security Council on nuclear weapons policy, gender, and security sector reform, we were—to borrow Sam Cook’s terms—lobbying for things like flashlights and raincoats for peacekeepers in post-conflict zones. Why? Because peacekeepers wouldn’t accompany women to get water without these essential supplies. To create line items for flashlights and raincoats was to prioritize women’s safety. Through examples like this, especially in doing gender-sensitive work, I learned to look for the questions that weren’t being asked, to examine what’s being taken for granted not because they’re insignificant, but because they’re often buried along with the voices that express them.
Why is evaluation important to you?
When I started working for an advocacy nonprofit, I needed the vocabulary to communicate how what we were doing was important. I had to navigate the power dynamics between donors and recipients and be able to answer the tough questions that donors were asking. Through a self-constructed (and ongoing!) course in evaluation, I built the vocabulary and learned the methods that would help me to persuasively tell the story behind concrete policy recommendations and the reasons behind them.
What do you love about living in the East Bay?
I grew up in Minneapolis, surrounded by lakes. When I’ve lived in places without immediate access to water, I’ve felt soul-parched, but here, I love to be on the Bay. I really love boating of all types, especially sailing, and I want to learn to kayak.
Any other items on your to-learn list?
I play a little guitar (not for anyone, just me!), and I want to continue learning music. I love learning languages (in a previous life, I was an ASL interpreter). I love learning in general, which might be one reason I’m here at Informing Change.