FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 9.28.2021


Dear friends,


It was a tremendous relief last week when Pfizer-BioNTech announced that their coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective in children ages 5 – 11. They hope that millions can be immunized by Halloween. What a deadline! It’s an exciting milestone for everyone.

I’m sure you also know that last week was DMAW’s 2021 Virtual MAXI Awards Ceremony. It was a fun event, and I’m delighted to share that Avalon clients won big. Congratulations to Farm Sanctuary (Bronze), Maryland Food Bank (Gold), the National Museum of African American History and Culture (Gold), Pine Street Inn (two Bronze), The Trustees (Silver), and their Avalon teams!

VP of Avalon Analytics TJ Hillinger published a blog post about new demographic reporting that can be added to your master file analysis and matchback analysis. TJ and her team have created some fascinating views! I’m especially proud of their commitment to collecting, appending, and analyzing demographic data through a DEI lens.

Avalon is also looking hard at how we use email. I’ve mentioned before that some of our senior team read and recommended Cal Newport’s book, A World Without Email. His point of view is that email works well for certain communications, but it is not a good tool for organizing and managing workflow. Related, I liked this article on how to break your email addiction. It starts with a tough question: How many times per day do you check email? Yikes.

One key factor for how we use technology is mindfulness. Mindfulness practices have been around for thousands of years, but only recently did neuroscientists confirm a connection between them and professional outcomes. Specifically, mindfulness meditation supports sustained concentration, calm under pressure, and stress management. Apparently, Steve Jobs was a visionary on this front. Decades ago, he described a connection between mindfulness and clarity/creativity. According to biographer Walter Isaacson, here’s how Jobs described it:

If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things–that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.

In museum news, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has a fantastic new exhibit called Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience. There are photos, videos, and a wonderful family guide on the website. The exhibit uses Smithsonian Hi (short for Hirshhorn Eye), a digital guide that allows visitors to engage with museum objects using their personal mobile devices.

I have also been following Last Week Tonight’s Masterpiece Gallery Tour. The HBO show’s host, John Oliver, awarded five $10,000 grants to art museums in exchange for hosting his “weird art” collection. The collection will move around the country for five months, hitting museums in Minnesota (September), Chicago (October), Baltimore (November), Detroit (December), and San Francisco (January). In addition to the museum grants, the show will donate $10,000 to a food bank in each location.

On the climate front, check out this interactive guide to realistic ways you can fight climate change today. You can adjust meters for the money, time, and energy you have to offer—and those changes will filter a list of actions. The project focuses on four categories: energy efficient homes, sustainable shopping, sustainable eating habits, and eco-friendly transportation and travel.

Finally, on a fun note, I enjoyed this video of Lil Nas X covering Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. Senior VP Margot O’Leary shared it with our staff, and her commentary was perfect: “I didn’t know this was the thing I needed, but it was.” Indeed.

Take care,


Allison Porter, President
Avalon Consulting Group
202-429-6080 ext. 102