Leaning into Change at Engage R+D


by Sonia Taddy-Sandino and Clare Nolan

As Engage R+D celebrates our one-year anniversary and the launch of our website, we can’t help but reflect on the refrain that “change is constant and inevitable.” It’s been a year of dynamic change on so many levels. On the one hand, change has never felt so fast and furious, yet for those who work with and represent vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, change can’t come soon enough. As we navigate the daily barrage of information and the accelerated pace of change, how can we help channel this energy into transformative change for the social good?

In the spring of 2017, we leaned into change and launched Engage R+D to help foundations, nonprofits, and public agencies design, implement, measure, and improve their social change initiatives. Our firm’s founding was inspired by the belief that meaningful data, community voice, and field insights can inform effective strategies and drive results. We approach our work with a learning orientation and an organizational development lens, recognizing that people and relationships are central to this work. We also believe in the power of collaboration and the importance of exchanging ideas and actionable insights that build the field and ultimately create healthier and more equitable communities.

Over the past year, we’ve assembled an amazing team of talented colleagues who bring diverse experience and expertise to the table. Together, we’re rolling up our sleeves and leaning into change with determination and intentionality. During our first year, we’ve had the privilege to partner with an impressive group of foundations and nonprofit clients who are boldly leading and strengthening efforts on a range of issues we care about—from building nonprofit capacity, fighting for health equity, supporting civic engagement, and promoting racial healing—to advancing worker rights, expanding early childhood programs, building pathways to higher education, and pushing for systems change. We are inspired by their work and honored to support them.

We have also had the privilege to collaborate with partners and social sector leaders who share our commitment to building the field and raising the bar. Together we’re sharing what we’re learning, reflecting on where we fall short, and delving into courageous conversations about equity and inclusion. After all, change is also about pushing ourselves to do better and be better. Now more than ever, philanthropy, social sector innovators, and evaluators are challenged to act differently and respond boldly as we seek to tackle complex social problems and navigate an unpredictable and politically volatile environment. As Engage R+D enters its second year, we are energized and committed to supporting these leaders and tireless advocates who are sparking new ways of thinking and doubling down on efforts to create pathways to positive social change.