Summer Evaluation Institute Keynote Speakers  

Panel Discussion: Learning to Action: How are Evaluators Integrating Socio-Cultural Context into Evaluations for Organizations 

Offered: Sunday, June 4, 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. 

Understanding the socio-cultural context within which an evaluation takes place means evaluators must consider the real lived experiences of the subjects of the evaluation within the context of social and cultural structures. Gaining knowledge of diverse individual and organizational experiences and applying this knowledge to the evaluation process and deliverables can be a challenge. This panel will share their experiences from the field. Examples of applying evaluation using equity and diversity and inclusion lenses in community and civic engagement settings, situations of health equity, higher education settings, and faith-based organizations will be shared. 

Moderated by Kathy Newcomer, President of AEA. 


Sylvia W. Burgess is the Vice-President of Operations and Senior Partner with One Step at a Time Consulting Services for leadership training and development. Dr. Burgess is a facilitator of team training and professional development for team building through classroom and simulation activities, strategy, and self-improvement subject matters. She has over 18 years of experience in teaching, facilitation, development and curriculum design in leadership development, diversity and cultural competency, community engagement, team building and conflict resolution. Dr. Burgess is a published author in the areas of spiritual capital and community engagement.  She received BA in Speech and Language Pathology and MPA from University of North Carolina Greensboro.  She earned a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from North Carolina A &T State University. She has proven leadership and senior management experience in business, operational management, and training and with the Center for Creative Leadership. Dr. Burgess has served as an adjunct professor at North Carolina A&T State University in the Leadership Studies doctoral program.  Dr. Burgess is an active member in the community serving in several service roles. 

Karen Terrell Jackson is Principal Evaluation Consultant and Owner of Katalyst Innovative Consulting Services. Dr. Jackson has experience in the fields of K-12 and higher education, social science research, evaluation, and policy analysis. Karen combines her early career experience in the physical sciences and STEM education with expertise in evaluation and research to empower the organizations she works with to use data in order facilitate meaningful change. Her more than 15 years as a successful mathematics instructor and almost 9 years as an academic support director at a community college provided her the opportunity to gain extensive experience in the development, facilitation, training and implementation of educational programs. She has also successfully worked with inter-disciplinary teams to assist various non-profit organizations with strategic planning, design, and using data to make meaningful policy decisions. Some evaluation and research focus areas include leadership, poverty education, STEM education, board professional development, and general program and institutional redesign. Dr. Jackson’s experience also includes peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations that focus on data-based decision making, using technology in mathematics education, diversity and inclusion, and cultural transformations within an organization. Organizations she has worked with most recently include Custom Evaluation Services, Inc., Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, The Greensboro Police Department, MDC, and The United Way of Chelan and Douglas Counties. As a professor in Leadership Studies at North Carolina A&T State University Dr. Jackson teaches online and face-to-face graduate quantitative research methods course and research design courses. She has a B.S. in Chemistry and M.Ed. in mathematics and curriculum and instruction from The University of Southern Mississippi and a Ph.D. in educational research and policy analysis from North Carolina State University.

Forrest D. Toms is as an Associate Professor in the Department of Leadership Studies Doctoral Program at N C A&T State University. His current research is in the areas of leadership development with faith-based/community leaders around spiritual capital and civic engagement.  Dr. Toms is also a Senior Partner with One Step at a Time Consulting.  Toms is recognized nationally for his systems approach and processes related to diversity and cultural competency in the education, health and mental health fields.  He has published articles, produced books and multimedia training products in the areas of diversity, cultural competency and community engagement.  Dr. Toms received his BS and MA degrees in Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Howard University, Washington, DC.

Susan M. Wolfe is a community psychologist with over 30 years of experience conducting evaluations and working in communities. She has held jobs with large community-hospital districts; a community college district; a large K-12 school district; universities; a children’s mental health clinic; the federal government; and as a consultant, both independent and for non-profit organizations. She has worked on research and evaluation projects, longitudinal and cross-sectional, spanning numerous content areas that include health disparities (cancer, maternal child health); nursing homes; homelessness; K-12 through college education; domestic violence and sexual assault; teen pregnancy and adolescent development; mental health and health services. Dr. Wolfe has published a variety of venues and presented at numerous national and international meetings. She is the co-editor (with Victoria Scott) of Community Psychology: Foundations for Practice which was published by Sage Publications in 2015 and co-author of A Guidebook for Community Consultants (with Ann Price) to be published by Oxford University Press. Her awards and accolades include the Society for Community Research and Action’s (SCRA) Distinguished Contributions to Community Psychology Practice and John Kalafat Applied Community Psychology awards; the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Service Inspector General’s Award for Excellence in Program Evaluation and three Inspector General’s Exceptional Achievement Awards. She currently chairs the AEA Nonprofits and Foundations Topical Interest Group. She earned a PhD in Human Development from the University of Texas at Dallas. She is currently a Senior Consultant with CNM Connect in Dallas, TX where she provides evaluation and capacity building services to nonprofit organizations.

Appreciative Evaluation Keynote

Offered: Monday, June 5, 4:15 p.m. 5:00 p.m. 

Speakers: Anastasia (Tessie) Tzavaras Catsambas

If you think that positive approaches are about being nice, think again. Appreciative Inquiry incorporates the systematic study of successful experiences in evaluation, and uses it as a lens to understand the broader system. Tessie Catsambas is the developer of a positive model for evaluating organizational and program performance, and co-author of the text Reframing Evaluation Through Appreciative Inquiry (Sage Publications, June 2006). In this presentation, Catsambas will demonstrate the scientific basis for using Appreciative Inquiry in evaluation, its contribution to getting better data by minimizing bias, and its role in increasing evaluation use. No evaluator should be without it.

Anastasia (Tessie) Tzavaras Catsambas is the founder and CEO/CFO of EnCompass LLC, a 17-year-old organization that provides services in evaluation, learning, leadership and organizational development. Ms. Catsambas brings 30 years’ experience in planning, evaluation and organizational development. She has managed large-scale, international evaluations, delivered training in different aspects of evaluation, and advocated for evaluation at global level. She has taught courses such using Appreciative Inquiry in evaluation, Outcome Mapping in logic models, participatory approaches for evaluation, developing dashboards for program monitoring, and evaluation use in advocacy and leading change. Catsambas is an innovator and practioner in appreciative evaluation, a methodology that incorporates the systematic study of successful experiences in evaluation, and has co-authored a book entitled, Reframing Evaluation Through Appreciative Inquiry (Sage Publications 2006). In addition to her work with EnCompass, Ms. Catsambas is a faculty member at The Evaluators’ Institute (TEI) where she teaches courses on Project Management and Oversight for Evaluators.

An Evaluator and a Librarian Walk into a Bar. . . How Library Services Can Enhance Evaluation Practice

Offered: Tuesday, June 6, 8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.

Speakers: Rick Colbert; Onnalee Gomez; Martha Knuth; Mary Wimer

The work of program evaluation is complex and multifaceted. Importantly, those tasked with this work face increasing demands for high-quality, systematic inquiry that yields sound and usable information for both accountability and program improvement. How can practitioners immediately enhance the quality of evaluation design or planning without substantial investment of additional resources? Careful consideration and use of library services provide a starting point. Four librarians from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will demonstrate how practitioners can use library services to guide program evaluation efforts. The presentation includes important clarifications regarding relevant literature and a range of options to access this content even if you are not affiliated with an academic institution or government agency. The speakers will provide a series of recommendations relevant to library services and evaluation practice that yield succinct guidance that attendees can use immediately.