RSDP Happenings - Spotlight: Caryn Mohr
The Regional Partnerships are pleased to introduce Caryn Mohr, who came on board in early December as our new Assistant Statewide Director. Caryn brings a background in social science research and communications, having worked with educational institutions, nonprofits, and foundations to evaluate their work and share results. Caryn will oversee RSDPs’ communication and evaluation efforts and work closely with Statewide Director Kathy Draeger to guide overall operations.
“I feel really lucky to be able to engage in such meaningful work with inspired people around the state,” Caryn said. “Meeting board members in the regions and my colleagues on campus, I’ve been struck by the dedication and expertise we have. It’s incredibly rewarding to play a role in spreading the word about our work and understanding the impact."
Prior to joining the Partnerships, Caryn worked as a researcher in the nonprofit, government, and private sectors. Caryn has led a wide variety of evaluation studies, ranging from reviews of a foundation’s grantmaking efforts, to case studies of charter schools, to highly quantitative quasi-experimental studies of student outcomes. Earlier in her career, Caryn worked as an editor and writer at magazine publishing companies. “With Caryn’s combined skills in communications and evaluation, the Partnerships will be better able to share our impact and results with communities throughout Greater Minnesota,” Draeger said.
Assistant director role
Caryn has prioritized visiting a board meeting in each region early on, and enjoyed attending the December NE RSDP meeting in Cloquet just two weeks into the job. “Because the heart of our work takes place in the communities, I think it’s critical to learn the interests and needs of each region, and the differences among the regions, from the start,” she said.
A primary responsibility of Caryn’s will be to help the Regional Partnerships understand the impact of their work. Caryn will manage statewide evaluation efforts and reporting, including overseeing the statewide evaluation database. “Our work is guided by such a powerful combination of local and University expertise. I’m excited to help identify meaningful ways to understand its impact and reach,” she said.
Caryn also views the Partnerships’ upcoming 20-year anniversary in 2017 as an opportunity to assess and refine evaluation efforts. “It’s an exciting opportunity to examine trends and the types of reporting currently possible based on existing data,” she said.
In her communications role, Caryn will develop communications plans for Partnership initiatives, such as the statewide campaign to construct several prototype Deep Winter Greenhouses; contribute to grant writing and reporting; oversee the monthly e-newsletter; develop social media guidelines and content; and support regional communications efforts. In April, Caryn will travel with two staff from the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) to the Extension Sustainability Summit in Portland, where she’ll present an invited overview of the Partnerships’ model of community-University engagement to a national audience. Caryn also hopes to build the Partnerships’ portfolio of work published in academic journals, and will identify opportunities for RSDP staff and associated faculty and support the publication process.
While new to the Partnerships, Caryn is a long-time University of Minnesota fan and a graduate of the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs as well as the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Caryn will support campus connections for the Partnerships through involvement with University public engagement and diversity committees as well as outreach to departments and faculty working on sustainable development issues.
“I love the ideas we are exposed to working for the University,” she said. “There are so many opportunities for the Partnerships to contribute to cutting-edge research by connecting faculty to our projects.”
Getting to know you
When she’s not working on behalf of the Partnerships, Caryn keeps busy with her 9- and 12-year-old boys. She is also an avid runner who has completed nine marathons, and a creative nonfiction writer and volunteer newsletter editor for Literary Mama magazine.
Caryn and her family live in Falcon Heights, home to the St. Paul campus. On days when she doesn’t need to drive, Caryn said she enjoys walking the one-mile commute. “Walking in, watching the sun rise over the University fields is a pretty wonderful way to start the day,” she said.
If you’re in St. Paul, stop by Caryn’s office in Borlaug Hall and introduce yourself. She’d love to hear your connection to the Partnerships.