Our Meet the Team blog series highlights our team, one member at a time. We give you a glimpse into their motivations and approach to working with our partners to achieve better results for communities. Through this feature, we hope that you’ll find a deeper connection to the people and relationships that are central to our work.
Today we’re getting to know Victoria Perera, our dynamic and compassionate research consultant at Engage R+D.
1. What is your role at Engage R+D?
I work on a variety of different types of evaluation and learning projects with foundations and nonprofit organizations. I do everything from planning and project management to making sense of data and creating visual reports.
2. What experience do you bring to this work?
My evaluation practice is shaped to a great extent by past experiences working in direct services. My first work experience after college was with a Bay Area nonprofit committed to empowering and sheltering homeless women and survivors of domestic violence. I was heartened by the organization’s innovative approaches that combined harm reduction and trauma-informed care, heartbroken by the stories of abuse and inequity, and humbled/inspired by the people I worked alongside who poured their hearts into caring for others, sometimes at the expense of their own mental health. In my evaluation practice, I try to ground myself in an understanding that the systems-level changes we seek in society at large are ultimately carried out by people who are in direct relation to those we intend to impact.
3. How did you discover your passion for evaluation and learning?
I am motivated by the many people I have talked with over the years who are living with trauma due to experiences of violence, abuse, poverty, and structural racism and everyone who is working on the frontlines, whether as advocates or in direct services. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with organizations and agencies that work tirelessly to do the emotional labor of healing others and the foundations that invest in the organizations that mobilize, organize, and address trauma in vulnerable populations. Through evaluation, I enjoy being able to hold up a mirror and reflect back the power that people have in creating meaningful change.
4. What do you love about your job?
Working with thoughtful, reflective, interdisciplinary teams is the best part about this work. I appreciate how others bring their own experiences, background, and creativity into their evaluation practice. I also enjoy having the opportunity to constantly learn new ways to approach this work and problem solve.
5. You’re in the Los Angeles Area - tell me 3 places I should go if I visit.
I moved to Los Angeles, by way of the Bay Area, from the Washington DC area where I grew up. I have now called LA my home for the past 10 years. Here are a few spots I enjoy.
Abalone Cove. This beautiful spot in the Palos Verdes peninsula boasts breathtaking ocean vistas, coastal trail hiking, and tide pools teeming with ocean life. Make sure to check the tides schedule before you go because the tide pools are accessible only during low tide.
Huntington Library and Gardens. While there is an extensive library (with a rare Gutenberg Bible on display) and art collection, I recommend walking through the botanical gardens which span about 120 acres. The rose garden is a favorite and the Zen court in the Japanese Garden is the perfect place for a quiet meditation.
Guerilla Tacos. In true LA style, it started out as a super delicious food truck and now it is a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the DTLA Arts District. The sweet potato taco and the taquitos are out of this world. Also, if you’re familiar with the late and great food writer, Jonathan Gold, you’ll see a tribute to him in one of the booths.