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Lisa Osterman, MA

Lisa’s rich history of work in community development and organizational capacity-building and expertise in social research, system and program evaluation, performance measurement coaching, and strategic planning made her a natural fit for a firm with a “helping people help others culture” (as she describes it). “All the work we do centers around the idea that there are lots of people doing great work to improve their communities,” she says, “and they want a fresh perspective or different approaches to making their work even better”.  “We get to meet and work with the most interesting people,” Lisa says. “They turn to us for expert assistance, but the only way to really support them is to learn from them.”

Lisa joined Community Solutions in 2006 after serving as Director of Planning and Measurement at the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Prior to that, she worked as a research and evaluation consultant on a number of projects in the youth development and education sectors.

Lisa holds a graduate degree in Applied Sociology with a concentration in Research and Evaluation from the University of Indianapolis and a B.A. in Religion, also from the University of Indianapolis. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis and is a member of the American Evaluation Association, Indiana Evaluation Association, and Alpha Kappa Delta International Honor Society. Lisa is the author of several scholarly journal articles.

Why are you passionate about what you do at Community Solutions?

Through intentional design, complicity, and sometimes plain ignorance, we’ve created policies and systems that advantage some communities and disadvantage others. I believe that communities have within them the wisdom, strength, imagination, and generosity needed in order to be a healthy, supportive place for all, but often lack the resources and relationships needed for large-scale change. And much of the time, the people who have lots of influence do not know or understand the communities that are impacted by their decisions. Our work attempts to bring folks together and support collaboration toward community-identified goals. Real change is possible when communities are able to harness resources and relationships that have traditionally been withheld from them.

 

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by the people that we work with every day. People who serve as an ambassador, champion, and cheerleader for their community and who inspire others to learn, care, and take action.

 

If you could offer advice to a younger version of yourself, what would you say?

Don’t presume to understand who people are or why they do what they do because people are always more complex than they may seem. Focus on listening, learning, building relationships, and finding common ground.