In the words of Hoagey Carmichael’s “old sweet song”, Georgia’s on my mind. Since 1930 that song has been covered by many great American artists, including Georgia’s own Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. Willie Nelson once performed a version accompanied by former governor of Georgia and US President Jimmy Carter on harmonica. A great song for a great state, it’s rightfully part of the Great American Song Book
I’ve been living and working in Atlanta, Georgia for ten years now, having moved here from London shortly after Jack and I founded GtD. These years have been some of my most fulfilling, out of nearly thirty years of policy research and evaluation.
I cut my teeth at the UK Home Office in the mid-1990s as part of a team researching sentencing decisions in the Crown Court and magistrates’ courts in England & Wales For the next twenty years I was privileged to work on a number of high-profile government assignments: a six year evaluation of the UK government’s flagship Youth Inclusion Programme; a landmark project to understand police crime recording practices; and various studies on the use of cutting-edge forensic evidence in court. These were important projects and Get the Data continues this tradition, with Jack and my colleagues in London working on large-scale government projects.
Our clients in Atlanta are different, but it is a difference that I find very satisfying.
Our clients and projects here in the USA are smaller than our traditional Whitehall projects, but they share a focus on understanding and promoting positive social change. Across our work with county and state agencies and non-profit organizations we work with individuals who want to implement positive changes and whose polices and practices are shaped by evidence and data. Working with smaller clients allows for a much stronger connection between the research we do and the resultant policy reform and practice changes.
We built our practice here on our track record of criminal justice research and our Atlanta clients have included county courts and public defender organizations. But we’ve also worked with agencies concerned with the welfare of refugees, children in care, and the health care needs of rural Georgians. In a recent blog post I showed that the common goal of all our work has been to improve services for some of the most disadvantaged people and communities in the South.
I often remark that, despite the many problems in our world, there is hardly a day that goes by where I don’t speak with a client who inspires hope.
Our clients’ work is challenging, and there are always more people needing help, more outcomes to improve, but the people I work with are optimistic, organized, and willing to learn. When visiting their offices I get a tangible feeling of their desire to improve things, their desire to succeed, and the sense that they know how to achieve this. It’s a good feeling and it makes them ideal colleagues and partners in the work that we do.
After ten years here in Georgia, I’m looking forward to the next ten filled with excitement and energy.
I’m always on the look-out for new clients who are making a difference here and who demand good evidence on which to make that happen. If I am describing you or your organization, then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can find time to chat. Some of the best ideas take time to come to fruition. But don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere.