Nora Murphy2015 Rising Alumni

Nora Murphy photo

Nora Murphy is becoming recognized as an emerging leader in program evaluation practice, scholarship, and training in the Twin Cities as well as nationally. Nora's dissertation on homeless youth in the Twin Cities won the Michael Scriven Dissertation Award, the highest honor for students in the field. She co-founded TerraLuna, an evaluation cooperative, which is focused on conducting evaluation work aimed at eliminating social inequities. Her vision has led to a thriving firm that is currently conducting work in the Twin Cities and Omaha, NE. She is also actively involved in the American Evaluation Association and is collaborating with Michael Quinn Patton, one of the most recognized names in evaluation, on a training and his upcoming book on principles-based evaluation.


TerraLuna Collaborative

How do you describe yourself?

I aspire to be kind, grateful, supportive, thoughtful and intelligent. On my best days I describe myself this way and I hope that I act in such a way that others might see me this way.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, what do you do?

If the sun is shining I try to get outside—swimming, gardening, biking, or hiking. If not, there's nothing I like more than to sit with a book that I'm reading simply because I want to.

What's a good book you'd recommend to others?

One good book? Not possible. I recently read The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and am currently reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. One of my favorite authors in Atul Gawande and recommend all of this books, particularly Better.

What's your favorite memory from the University of Minnesota?

I worked at the Minnesota Evaluation Studies Institute while I was a graduate student and we had weekly meetings with the Director and my advisor, Dr. Jean A. King. These meetings supported me personally and professionally and helped me feel more connected to other students, the University, the greater community and the field at large.

What was the impact and benefit of your educational experience in CEHD?

The American Evaluation Association has approximately 7000 members representing all 50 states in the United States as well as over 60 foreign countries. Despite this large and growing membership there are few places in the United States where one can obtain a Ph.D. in Evaluation Studies. The fact that I've been able to study evaluation in such depth and with great rigor, and that I was able to have real-life experience through the Minnesota Evaluation Studies Institute benefits me tremendously. My grounding in both theory and practice not only helped me to become a great evaluator but also to contribute meaningfully to the field.

What gets you excited about work?

I believe fiercely that we all need to work toward a more just and equitable world. Evaluation lets me use my skills and talents in partnership with organizations that share that same belief. It may sound idealistic, but I believe that through these partnerships we can collaboratively heal our communities and ourselves) and eliminate inequities. Developmental evaluation, a particular approach to evaluation, has become, for me, a powerful way to engage in these partnerships with social innovators.