Gang violence is a hot-button issue in the city of Surrey and prevention is no small task. In response to the rising violence, the city’s mayor launched the Mayor’s Task Force on Gang Violence Prevention in the fall of 2017. In early July of this year, the Task Force released its final report, which evaluated existing programs and services, as well as making several recommendations on how to make Surrey safer.
UBC alumna Beth Garner (MA’05) had a hand in bringing the report to fruition. As a program evaluation consultant for Ference & Company, a management consulting firm in downtown Vancouver, Garner advises on any number of issues, including the Task Force’s report.
“I help people understand the difference they’re making in the world,” she said. “More specifically, I help various levels of government to improve the efficiency of their programs; everything from small business development to poverty reduction to gang violence prevention.”
In her role, Garner is involved in all stages of the research process, helping to design the methodology, compose the research questions, conduct interviews, analyze data, and develop solutions.
For the Task Force, Garner observed meetings and conducted interviews with city staff, law enforcement, academics, community leaders, and youth workers.
For Garner, working on the Task Force shone new light on an issue she had only ever really experienced through reading headlines or watching the news.
“Many of these gang members become involved as children,” she said. “These young people deserve a chance for a better life.”
Working with the Task Force, and in program evaluation, is one of many turns Garner has seen her career take. She was initially spurred to study economics at UBC based on an interest in international development.
Upon graduation, she interned at the African Development Bank in Tunisia before working in financial consulting in Ottawa.
A love of theatre also led her to pursue the arts, acting in commercials, film and television, and doing theatre and improv. She said actors need to be good listeners, and it’s this particular skill she uses frequently in her current work.
For Garner, studying economics has given her the flexibility to try on a number of different hats in her career.
“Economics provides you with the rigour and capacity to be a good problem solver and critical thinker, and employers respect that,” she said. “You can use that to pursue a number of fields.”
Garner’s love of the West Coast, and her family ties to Vancouver, brought her back home, where she’s worked at Ference & Company for the past eight years.
Some of her favourite UBC memories include a road trip with her classmates to the Calgary Stampede, and weekend trips up to UBC’s Whistler Lodge Hostel.
Garner graduated from UBC in 2005 with an MA in Economics. To learn more about Garner’s projects and reports, click here.