We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Yvette E. Pearson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Pearson, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I launched my business in response to a need. An administrator at a university who knew of my background in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education research, and more specifically, in proposal development, contacted me to ask if I could help some of his faculty members with proposals they were writing. This was not a new request; others had asked before. But this request, along with another one I’d received several months before for project evaluation, was the one that prompted me to establish The Pearson Evaluation and Education Research Group (The PEER Group). My podcast, Engineering Change, started in much the same way. A dear friend pointed out how frequently attendees follow up with me after speaking engagements to ask questions or email me for further insights, stating there’s a need for the information I share, and insisting that a podcast would be a great venue for getting it out. Hesitant about flying solo speaking to an audience every week or two, I decided to reach out to other experts and interview them, which has been tremendously successful in sharing a wealth of practical knowledge from a number of sources with a very large audience. Engineering Change is a podcast focused on actionable strategies to REDEFINE engineering education: RE-image who we see as engineers and what we see as engineering; DE-silo academic programs and approaches to problem solving; and FINE-tune academic culture and climate so people from all backgrounds and identities can succeed. After its launch in May 2020, Engineering Change quickly became a global podcast with audience members in over 40 countries on six continents.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Over the past four years, The PEER Group has evolved to incorporate other areas of my expertise (such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI) so that now we have a growing team that supports clients in five primary areas. They are: proposal development (with emphasis on STEM education research proposals to the National Science Foundation); program, project, and organizational evaluation (including studies of organizational culture and climate); strategic initiatives (helping organizations develop, implement, and monitor the progress of strategic initiatives in a way that seamlessly integrates DEI into new and/or ongoing efforts); training and professional development (focused on applications in STEM education and practice); and meeting/event planning and facilitation (equitable and inclusive STEM meetings). It’s hard work, but it is exciting to help engineering organizations and institutions with systemic change toward ubiquitous inclusion (UI), where DEI are standards of practice inextricably linked to excellence in engineering education, research, design, and practice. Our clients note our team’s blend of expertise in DEI, engineering, and social/behavioral sciences as a unique strength that improves our capabilities to meet their unique needs.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As is the case with most other people, covid has put the brakes on outings for me. I have been working from home since February 2020, and sadly, have left the house only a handful of times. One of the most fun (and tiring) times I’ve had in Houston (pre-covid) was a recent birthday weekend. I celebrated with a bunch of girlfriends and relatives. We called ourselves the “Boogie Brigade” (Boogie was my dad’s nickname for me). We kicked off Friday night with a private paint and sip party at Pinot’s Palette in Sugar Land (and yes, there were non-alcoholic “sips” available). We had food delivered from one of the nearby restaurants (I don’t recall which one). We left there and spent the evening waiting our turn for karaoke at a karaoke club in Houston. The next day started with brunch at Dish Society in LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch (one place to which I like to take all of my out-of-town guests), followed by shopping at Sam Moon, Memorial City Mall, and some of the shops on Harwin. We returned to the house, changed, and went for dinner and live jazz at Martini Blu in Houston. The next morning, most of the group went to church at Fountain of Praise, then we spent the afternoon at the pool in my neighborhood. I’m tired again just thinking about it!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family is my biggest support group. My mother, Geraldine Jackson, is the person who convinced me that I had the aptitude to succeed in engineering when I did not see that possibility for myself. My daughter, Amber, is my motivation. She’s the reason I keep pushing; striving to create the best possible life for her – spiritually, physically, and emotionally – while breaking down barriers that could otherwise impede her success or that of her peers. My brother, Travis, and my sister-in-law, niece, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins are my biggest cheerleaders. My friend, Quincy, is my motivator and champion. He was the one who convinced me to do the podcast and has had a strong hand in my successes over the past five years. My “little brother,” Fred, has been instrumental in helping me establish a footprint in Houston. My team at The PEER Group – Dr. Lisa, Dr. Mike, Casey, Dan, Geraldine, Amber, and Lisa S. – and all of our clients are the people who make our business a success. My Engineering Change production team and speaking support team – Sean, Quincy, Dr. Freddy, Rachel, DK, and Adrienne – enable the work I do to have global impacts. And finally, but above all, I owe everything to my Father God and Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who made all of this possible by giving me the ability and surrounding me with people to help bring the vision to pass.
Sean Griffin, Monica Blackshire