Dawn M. Ellis and Associates, LLC

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Work Links


DME worked with public health organization, Baltimore Healthy Start to facilitate board and staff planning, inspire new approaches to communication, innovation, and professional development, and coach their leadership through structural changes to increase their sustainability.

State Consortium Development
Alabama invited DME to facilitate the early phases of its collective impact work across the state to improve innovation and creativity in its young people. Working with business, education, community, and cultural leaders, DME helped Alabama set the course for this new artistic literacy consortium. Young people now play an active part in the leadership of this coalition.


Technical Assistance

Coaching State Teams to Affect Policy

Dawn led DME technical assistance supporting 10 state teams selected for the Americans for the Arts State Policy Pilot Program (SP3) as they planned and mobilized to affect state policy over a three-year period. Teams included state agencies, individuals, businesses, researchers and not-for-profits.


National Leadership and Education Network

In 2007, Ford's Theatre Society of Washington, D.C. raised education into its mission to bring Abraham Lincoln's legacy to life. Since 2008, DME has periodically provided evaluation, planning, and design technical assistance to inform Ford's development of new education programs and services. Their work now includes student oratory and community leadership development, teacher fellowships, Civil War partnerships, a virtual community strengthening the work of urban and rural teachers, historical walking tours, new museum spaces and exhibits, audience- community dialogues on tolerance, virtual social media and learning communities, and the recently built Center for Education and Leadership.


State Farm to School Network Impact
This Vermont network invited DME to help it define measurement priorities as it develops an evaluation system to track its impact and progress. DME reviewed literature from the network and farm to school research across North America, including areas around youth health and risk behaviors, school garden and cafeteria education, community engagement, food hubs and networks, local food economics, and social capital development. DME also facilitated state focus groups in education, health, and economics/value, to glean patterns and inform priorities.

Student-Centered Systems Reform
DME coached action teams from a coalition of Vermont's urban and diverse school districts and their community partners. Developing capacity to use logic modeling to plan, DME helped the effort 'think big' to move towards student-centered education. DME helped the coalition compete for and win around $3.5 million from the Nellie Mae Foundation to support the education reform effort. Partnership for Change formed to coordinate the reforms, developing new leadership in students, educators, and communities and move towards a learning plan for every student. Reform efforts continue.

Planning for Performance Assessment
DME supported New Hampshire State Department of Education's innovative Performance Assessment for Competency-based Education (PACE) partnership with planning, technical assistance, and grantwriting as it seeks expand development of authentic, reliable, valid statewide education assessment that empowers teachers and students to improve learning.


Designing a Learning Community

A Handbook for K-12 Professional Development Planners (Los Angeles County Arts Commission, San Francisco Arts Commission, and Santa Clara County Office of Education, 2009)- research, online resource, searchable models.


Building State Peer Networks and Capacity
In the 2000's, DME research, facilitation, and strategic planning strengthened state leadership in arts education. A coalition of a national association of state agencies and two federal agencies supported the efforts. The initiative worked with the fifty states and territories and their partners to structure peer-to-peer networks, deepen professional development, and create templates to give new state leaders a head start. The self-assessment, field leadership structure, and shared tools continue to support state leaders today.


Statewide Needs Assessment: Blueprint for Reform

Research and technical assistance helped Tennessee assess and respond to education needs in the field. The resulting Ready, Set, Grow! (2005) report served as a blueprint for the 2006 U.S. Department of Education grant leading to the Value Plus School initiative. After four years, external evaluators found the poverty achievement gap had disappeared in treatment schools in a controlled study.

Probing Needs, Designing Solutions

The New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation invited DME to probe the current professional development needs, interests, and capacities of educators. DME coached the clients in a survey of educators from across the state and analyzed the results. DME facilitated state thought leaders in design thinking work to brainstorm the barriers to professional development the survey revealed. Also, DME scanned a decade of historical research for a 30-year old state professional development institute and identified promising practices across the country to inform professional development redesign efforts in New Jersey.


Making Research Relevant
A national education association engaged DME to translate an analysis of a longitudinal survey of the field into ideas and lessons that the field could learn. DME also worked with the lead academic researcher to probe particularly pertinent parts of the data to help answer questions useful for the field.


Partnership and Program Analysis

The largest U.S. international artist/writer residency program invited DME to examine its education work. DME analyzed programs and offered recommendations from 2011-2013. Work included an in-depth case study of an 18 year partnership with a local rural elementary school and analysis of a teacher fellowship program.