Skip to main content

The Learning Conference 2013

June 3–4, 2013

Hilton Miami Downtown, Miami, FL

A4: How Networks Learn

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 8:30 AM–10:00 AM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Session Designer

Marianne Hughes, Interaction Institute for Social Change, and Pat Brandes, Barr Foundation

Session Description

Over the past several years, grantmakers and practitioners are paying more attention to how networks learn from their work and improve their practice as a result. What differentiates learning from information sharing? What are the conditions that enable learning? What are the inflection points in network development that catalyze learning? In this interactive session, participants will deepen their understanding of the “network mindset,” the need to create disruptions and allow for emergence, the role of data and information in network learning and how networks improve upon their practice as a result. Using case studies, participants will look at the learning needs and modalities that are specific to a particular type of network and those that are common across all networks.

Session Learning Goals

Through this session participants will understand that:
--Different types of networks need different learning approaches;
--Learning happens at the individual and collective levels and influence each other
--Conceptual congruence and shared vocabulary is fundamental to network learning
--Authentic relationships and learning together is what ensures network success

Session Type



Marianne Hughes, Interaction Institute for Social Change

Marianne Hughes is the founding Executive Director of the Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC). a nonprofit organization that works for social justice and sustainability. IISC ignites the power of collaboration by building leadership capacity, fostering connectivity, and facilitating concerted action. As executive director from 1993-2012, Marianne built strategic alliances and fostered connections among social change agents and organizations, and led the development of new products and initiatives as well as organizational thinking and learning about innovative ways to create high impact social change. Throughout her tenure with IISC and still today, Marianne provides consulting, facilitation, network building, leadership development, and training services to movement builders, nonprofits organizations, public sector agencies, and cross-sectoral collaborations to help them think strategically and take vision to action.

Rahn Dorsey, Barr Foundation

Turahn Dorsey joined the Barr Foundation staff as Evaluation Director in March 2009. Mr. Dorsey is a program evaluator and researcher whose 15+ years of experience with Moore and Associates in Southfield, MI and Abt Associates in Cambridge, MA span a number of public policy, community change and public health related issues. The evaluation, research and technical assistance projects in which Mr. Dorsey has participated cover a number of quantitative and qualitative technical areas including outcome and impact analyses, Theory of Change-based program evaluation (including the identification of best practices) and technical assistance efforts aimed at enhancing program implementation, impact, and replication. While at Abt Associates, Mr. Dorsey led or co-led several evaluations of foundation-funded community and systems change efforts including: the evaluations of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Voices and Men’s Health initiatives; the Interim Evaluation of the Ventures Program for the Northwest Area Foundation; and the development of a Theory of Change for the Lumina Foundation’s Making Opportunity Affordable initiative. Mr. Dorsey’s current responsibilities include developing and implementing data monitoring and evaluation frameworks to track the progress and impact of Barr Foundation education and climate change investments.

Session Materials