About Us

Partners in life and married in 2014, Kathy Namba and Summer Wood became formal partners in work when we created Ampersand LLC in June 2018.

Each of us has spent years practicing evaluation and education and has been guided by the vital importance of listening deeply to and learning from the communities we serve. In creating Ampersand, we created a simple business structure that would align with our values of equity, co-creation, and celebrating and building on the strength of communities.

At Ampersand, we work together with a wide range of clients—educators, institutions, community organizations and other visionaries—who share our commitment to making a positive change in the world. Our practice is deeply collaborative and grounded in a shared responsibility to transform oppressive structures. Our aim is to help our clients grow their own capacity to be more effective, to have greater impact, and to share their stories in ways that inspire others.

In evaluation, we use a multi-methods approach that draws from both traditional and non- traditional, linear and non-linear practices that are relevant to our clients’ unique needs. Our facilitation centers anti-oppressive strategies that honor the wisdom and insight of all participants and attend to group dynamics of power and privilege. We strive to ensure that our methods are rigorous and respectful, our results are accurate and useful, our products are inviting and accessible, and our conduct reflects the just, equitable and joyful world we want to live in.

Summer Wood

Ampersand Co-Director and Evaluation Lead

At heart, I’m a listener. I entered the field of evaluation in 2011, attracted to the happy confluence of stories and numbers, and am guided in this work by the framework of RELATIONSHIP-RELEVANCE-RESPONSIBILITY articulated by Dr. Linda Tuhiwai Smith.1 It’s been my honor to lead numerous evaluations, facilitate learning communities, and conduct community-centered research in New Mexico and nationwide. Each year I accrue a deeper debt of gratitude to all those who have shared their thoughts and experience with me.

A practicing writer with two published novels, national awards, an M.F.A. and many years’ experience teaching creative writing through UNM’s Taos Summer Writers’ Conference and other venues, I turn often to narrative as a way to get to the heart and truth of experience. A math-and-science geek (B.S. Geography) dazzled by the natural world, I cherish the truth found in physical data. Witness, discernment, and respect for multiple perspectives feel crucial to both ways of knowing. Equal parts humility and joy feel necessary, too.

Toni Morrison (February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019) said, about literature: “I think there’s data, and then there’s information that comes from data, and then there’s knowledge that comes from information. And then, after knowledge, there is wisdom. I am interested in how to get from data to wisdom.” I am as well.

Kathy Namba

Ampersand Co-Director and Education Lead

I’m a people person. I thrive on relationships and interactions with others, learning different perspectives and mixing those into the fiber of my make-up. I studied languages (BA in Spanish Linguistics and Literature) as entry into new ways of thinking and to cultures new to me. Having lived in Japan, in Mexico, in northern New Mexico and San Francisco and New Orleans, I move comfortably between cultures of all sorts: rural and urban, straight and gay, economically diverse, practioner and theorist…

As an educator (MEd. with a focus on At-Risk Youth), I see myself as a facilitator of growth, and as I continue to grow myself, I increasingly respect who and what each individual brings to the table. Assessment has always been an important part of education, and what I’ve come to rely on is a reflective process that circles back to the strengths, values and potential of each individual or organization and deepens skills, understanding and relationships.

The first part of my career, I worked directly with New Mexico’s children and families as an Early Childhood Educator. In recent years, my focus has been to grow teachers and leaders in the field by providing technical assistance, professional development, and individualized coaching. Current clients include New Orleans organizations led by African American women educators; Taos Pueblo Head Start; and other organizations seeking help to identify and address areas for program growth. In this way, evaluation is an important part of the continuous cycle of improvement.

Ampersand is excited to work with organizations like NewMexicoWomen.Org that share our gender and social justice values and approach. Our values and approach are informed by these essential elements.

Endnotes

1 Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Porou, Māori) is a Professor of Indigenous Education and the author of Decolonizing Methodologies, among other essential works. Her work offers an invitation to

“be part of the movement to decolonize evaluation in transformative ways….[through] the importance of relationships, of being in relation to the world and of sustaining relationships between evaluators and indigenous stakeholders; [through] the significance of relevance in terms of ensuring that the making of meaning is coproduced and meaningful at a deep level; [and through] the consequence of responsibility, in terms of establishing responsive and ethical processes that are understood by all participants and are available to be challenged and reviewed.”

Excerpt From: Rodney Hopson & Fiona Cram. “Tackling Wicked Problems in Complex Ecologies.” Apple Books.

2 We resonate with the tenets and practices of Appreciative Inquiry, a trend in evaluation that focuses on working from community strengths and assets and asking positive questions.

Ampersand LLC
Kathy Namba MEd, Co-Director
Summer Wood MFA, Co-Director

[email protected]
575.779.0997
P.O.Box 792773, New Orleans LA 70179