Growing up, I always enjoyed anything that involved finding an answer like doing word finds, crosswords and puzzles, and reading Two-Minute Mysteries, which challenged me to find the solution with just a few pages of information. Then as I got older, geometry became one of my favorite subjects, and I was hooked on solving geometry proofs. It would really bother me if I couldn’t figure one out. (Seriously.) I was also drawn to the social sciences in school and decided that I wanted to work with people, which led me to earn my undergraduate degree in psychology. But in graduate school, my advisor enlisted me to help evaluate a nonprofit’s services, which completely changed my career path. Through that program evaluation research, I found a way to blend my passion for finding answers with my goal to work with people.
Trina Willard has been providing program evaluation and measurement services to nonprofits and government agencies for more than two decades. Through this work, she has found that many local organizations simply don’t have the capacity or tools to capture the data that could optimize their operations and outcomes. That gap motivated her to launch Knowledge Advisory Group in 2010. In her role at Knowledge Advisory Group, Trina focuses on increasing the effectiveness of organizations’ programs, policies and procedures, emphasizing the need to identify and measure outcomes for continued growth. Trina works directly with decision-makers, including government legislators, executive directors and leadership teams, equipping them to make the most informed decisions. But the part of her job that she enjoys the most is changing mindsets about data, or helping clients understand how powerful data can be in reaching their goals.
Trina allows her clients to take baby steps when tackling a data project, reassuring them that they’ll have the team’s support all along the way. Many organizations and businesses have little experience with data, so she also meets organizations wherever they are at the time. That could mean giving clients effective ways to introduce data into their culture, showing them progress on an issue that is meaningful to them, or placing program managers in a more powerful position with decision-makers.
Before founding Knowledge Advisory Group, Trina served as vice president of Transformation Systems, Inc., an award-winning management consulting firm. For close to a decade, she also worked as chief of the Evaluation Unit of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Criminal Justice Research Center. While there, her team was the recipient of the coveted Phillip Hoke National Publication Award. As a result of her depth of experience, Trina understands the data challenges within the nonprofit, government and business sectors firsthand. This multi-layered perspective allows her not only to relate to her clients but also serve them more effectively.
B.S. in Psychology from Roanoke College
M.S. in Applied-Experimental Psychology from Virginia Tech
Licensed Consultant in Nonprofit Standards for Excellence
Nonprofit Lifecycles Capacity Consultant