Program Evaluation Manager Maggie Morrow

Program Evaluation Manager Maggie Morrow

Do you have a nickname?

My legal name is Maggie. Maggie is usually short for Margaret – but not in my case. I don’t have a nickname.

 Where did you grow up?

I grew up on a cattle ranch in northeastern New Mexico. My high school was very rural, there were only 14 people in my graduating class. I lived about 10 miles from the closest “town”, Folsom, which has a population of about 50 people. We were 45 minutes from the closest grocery store!

What was your family like?

My family is amazing. I have two sisters – we were all a grade apart in school, and I am the middle child. My older sister is a Law Professor at the University of Missouri and my younger sister is a vascular surgeon. I also have two nephews who are adorable. My mom still lives in New Mexico and runs the family ranch. She just turned 60 this year, and she still rides horses, fixes fence, and does everything else involved in running a cattle ranch!

Was going to college always something you aspired to? What about your friends?

Yes, I knew that I would go to college. Most of my classmates also went to college.

Did you feel prepared for college? Did you have counselors at your high school help you?

Our senior year we had a class called “College and Careers”, which was helpful. We did activities like walk through how to file for FAFSA, register to vote, and apply to college. However, our “counselor”, who was also our assistant principal, was very anti-private school, which definitely had an influence on us. We were all under the assumption that these schools would be too pricey. The irony is that many of my classmates and I would probably have gotten more financial aid at a private school. I didn’t even consider applying to any private schools or actually any schools that I didn’t get in-state tuition – as I knew I would be paying for my own tuition through a combination of Pell grants, scholarships and a part-time job while in college.

When did you start thinking about possible career paths?

In high school I wanted to be a musician, I majored in music for the first few years of college. I eventually changed my major to international business as I had always wanted to travel, and I was also interested in international development.

So how did you come to work in education?

I always knew that I wanted to give back. In college, I majored in international business – I thought that I would work in international development. So I entered the Peace Corps after graduating. During that time, I facilitated a lot of trainings and workshops, and I came to the conclusion that development is best done through either education/training or the shoring up of infrastructure. After I got back from the Peace Corps, I got a master’s degree in school counseling and worked in a charter school in Southeast DC for a few years as a school counselor. An incredible experience, but also one of the toughest jobs I have ever done.

 What is your position at PeerForward? What does it entail?

I am the Manager of Program Evaluation. I help PeerForward think about what outcomes we should expect to see for our programs, and how we can measure those outcomes and use the results to inform and enhance program design.

What were you doing before you joined our team?

Before PeerForward, I worked for the DCPS school system in the Office of Human Capital. I helped DCPS principals hire and onboard teachers. Before working for DCPS, I had done a nine-month Peace Corps response assignment in Northern Peru. I worked with the local government to create and evaluate small business programs aimed at developing local woman and youth entrepreneurs. Before my Peace Corps response assignment, I was in graduate school at the Harvard Graduation School of Education to get my master’s in education policy.

When did you first learn about PeerForward?

While in my graduate program for school counseling, we were introduced to organizations that were working towards expanding college access. My professor, Dr. Lee, was impressed with the work of PeerForward.

What do you love most about working here?

So many things! I love working towards a mission that I care deeply about. I also really enjoy working with all my wonderful colleagues – each of them inspire me professionally and personally. But most of all, I love getting to do a job that I really enjoy. I really geek out thinking through how to measure our program and collect data.

What has been the most interesting or impactful project you’ve worked on at PeerForward?

I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to draw up both our Theory of Change and our Logic Model for the PeerFoward program. In general I am excited about the PeerForward work! It has also been an incredibly opportunity to think through our external evaluation plan for PeerForward.

How has PeerForward impacted your own life?

I have definitely grown professionally over the past year. I have learned so much about the field of college access and also mastered new skills – such as the basics of SQL (shout-out to Sarah for your help with this). What keeps me inspired is our mission and the impact of our organization.

What do you do outside of work? Any personal hobbies or passions?

I enjoy cooking, reading, hiking, and learning new skills.

What’s your favorite food that nobody would guess?

Hmm…I eat almost anything. Seriously, I am the least picky eater. In my travels, I have tried a lot of different foods. I recommend guinea pig, a typical South American dish in Peru and Ecuador. I also really like black licorice, which a lot of people don’t.

 What is the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?

I lived in Peru for a year during my experience with the Peace Corps. Peru is an amazing country. The food is incredible, the people friendly, and if you like the outdoors, it offers some of the most incredible hiking and adventure sports in the world. While there, a few Peace Corps friends and I did a three day raft race down the Amazon River. A unique twist on the race was that teams had to build their own rafts. The raft race holds the Guinness book world record for the longest raft race – 112 miles!

What’s the last book you read?

The Life-changing Magic Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

 What is your hidden talent?

I sing and play the guitar and piano. I am also an amateur carpenter. Last winter I built a farmhouse table from scratch.

What are three things you can’t live without?

Coffee, family, and friends (probably in that order).

What is your ideal weekend?

I love travelling to new places and wondering around. My fiancée and I also love trying new restaurants.

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