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The American Evaluation Association Announces 2019 Award Winners

Recognition ceremony scheduled for Friday, November 15 at Evaluation 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Washington, DC (11.4.2019) – The American Evaluation Association (AEA) will recognize nine individuals and one team for their outstanding contributions to evaluation theory, methodology, and  practice and their dedication to furthering the disciplines of evaluation and the association. The award winners will be recognized at AEA’s annual award luncheon to be held Friday, November 15, 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET, in conjunction with Evaluation 2019 Annual Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Join us in congratulating the recipients of AEA’s 2019 awards:

Ayesha S. Boyce, PhD, Assistant Professor, Educational Research Methodology, Co-Director, Office of Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Services, University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG)
2019 AEA Marcia Guttentag Promising New Evaluator Award

Dr. Ayesha S. Boyce is an evaluation teacher, scholar, and practitioner. Dr. Boyce received her PhD in Educational Psychology with a specialization in evaluation from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an assistant professor of Educational Research Methodology at the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG). Before pursuing her PhD, she was an evaluator for the Arizona Department of Education. Her research focuses on attending to value stances and issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion, access, cultural responsiveness, and social justice within evaluation—especially multi-site, STEM, and contexts with historically marginalized populations. She also examines teaching, mentoring, and learning in evaluation. 

Dr. Boyce has evaluated over 40 programs funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), US Department of Education, National Institutes of Health, and Spencer and Teagle foundations. She is currently a Co-Principal Investigator on four NSF funded projects. Dr. Boyce is the co-chair of the AEA Multiethnic Issues in Evaluation TIG, a member of the editorial board for the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, and teaches classes in program evaluation and research methodology where she emphasizes good practice with mindful attentiveness to theoretical roots. She encourages students to develop a strong methodological foundation, conduct studies based on democratic principles, and promote equity, fairness, inclusivity, and diversity.

“Program evaluation can embody the values of a more just society and should be positioned as a social, cultural, and political force to address issues of inequity, while still maintaining methodological rigor and trustworthiness. I am indebted to my colleagues, mentors, and students for the nomination. I am humbled to be recognized with this esteemed award and am honored to join a cadre of thoughtful promising evaluators.”

Christina Christie, PhD, Professor, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
2019 AEA Research on Evaluation Award

Dr. Christie is Professor of Social Research Methodology and Chair of the Department of Education at UCLA. Her research has three interrelated foci: applied evaluation work, research on evaluation practice, and analysis of evaluation theories. Conducting applied evaluation research offers her the opportunity to support and mentor students and to use her knowledge of evaluation and social science theory in field settings with the goal of improving society. At the same time, her research on evaluation practice helps strengthen our collective understanding of evaluation as a means of facilitating social change by contributing to an empirical knowledge base concerning the factors and conditions that influence how evaluation is conducted. Her theoretical scholarship advances frameworks for understanding evaluation models in order to refine practice.

Christie is co-editor of the Evaluation in Practice book series (Sage Publications), and serves on the editorial board of New Directions in Evaluation. She is the recipient of the 2004 American Evaluation Association, Marcia Guttentag Early Career Achievement Award and of the 2018 American Educational Research Association's Research on Evaluation (RoE) Special Interest Group (SIG) Distinguished Scholar Award.

“I am so deeply honored to have received this award. The prior recipients of this award have influenced my thinking and work in the most significant ways - I have the highest respect for their scholarship and work. Being recognized with this distinguished award is one of the greatest of honors I could imagine receiving.  My sincerest gratitude goes to the scholars who nominated me for the award and to the awards committee for selecting me as this year’s recipient. I look forward to seeing my colleagues and friends in Minnesota!”

Jane Davidson, PhD, Principal, Real Evaluation LLC
2019 AEA Paul F. Lazarsfeld Evaluation Theory Award

Jane Davidson is best known for pioneering the increasingly popular Evaluation Rubrics Methodology, which guides evaluation teams and stakeholders to make their evaluative reasoning systematic, transparent, culturally responsive, credible, and valid. She has also developed a number of practical methodologies and approaches for the systematic synthesis of findings to form higher-level evaluative conclusions, as well as causal inference for qualitative and mixed methods. Dr. Davidson is the author of the Sage text, Evaluation Methodology Basics, which covers the methodologies that are distinctive to evaluation and typically missing from training in applied social science research. She is currently working on several new books, including one on Rubrics-Enhanced Evaluation.

Dr. Davidson is former Associate Director of The Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University, where (alongside Dr. Daniel Stufflebeam) she designed, launched, and directed the world's first fully interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Evaluation. After an 11-year stint back home in New Zealand working across multiple sectors, she is excited to have moved back to the States and is now based in Seattle. Dr. Davidson is sought after internationally as a keynote speaker, evaluation coach, workshop and webinar presenter, and creator of awesome evaluation frameworks and tools. You can find her at JaneDavidson.com.

I am so humbled and honored to receive this high award, and also excited that AEA has recognized the importance of making evaluation actually evaluative. We all know Michael Scriven's definition of evaluation as the determination of merit, worth, or significance, but there was never much guidance on exactly how that evaluative reasoning should be done, and as a result, it seldom was. In two and a half decades of developing rubrics methodology for program, policy, strategy, personnel, and proposal evaluation with some amazing colleagues, between us we have amassed a deep repertoire of practice-based theory, including which values should be front and center (and why), and how evaluative reasoning is validly done.

John M. LaVelle, PhD, Assistant Professor of Evaluation Studies, College of Education and Human Development, Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, University of Minnesota
2019 AEA Marcia Guttentag Promising New Evaluator Award

John M. LaVelle is an Assistant Professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development, Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy & Development, with a focus on Evaluation Studies.  His recent research projects have taken an in-depth view of evaluation education programs worldwide, methods of integrating job description analysis in curricular planning and implementation, and evaluator recruitment and socialization.  He has also authored works on developing a pedagogy for the teaching of evaluation, addressing the impostor phenomenon in evaluation, ways of integrating social science into evaluation practice, and is currently working on a major study of evaluator values.

Dr. LaVelle teaches a host of evaluation and methodology courses for both graduate and undergraduate students including Program Evaluation, Evaluation Theory for Practice, Evaluation Theorycrafting, Research on Evaluation, Evaluation in Human Resource Development, Data Collection and Analysis in Organizations, and Qualitative & Mixed Methods.

"I am honored to be awarded the 2019 Marcia Guttentag Promising New Evaluator Award for my work and service over the years.  I continue to find it very rewarding to teach and mentor new evaluators who are seeking to make a difference in the communities in which they work.  I am also grateful to my students and colleagues for their support and encouragement, as we have explored topics such as evaluator education, evaluator competencies, teaching of evaluation, research on evaluation, and questions of professional identity and values. This journey with friends is deeply rewarding as we work together to study evaluation with a sense of wonder and respect.”

Kate McKegg, Judy Oakden, Debbie Goodwin, Jacqui Henry
Waikato Regional Council
2019 AEA Outstanding Evaluation Award

Waikato Regional Council invested in a Developmental Evaluation as part of a collaborative stakeholder process to successfully agree on ways of managing water quality and use for diverse populations. This high-stakes evaluation was a trailblazing, three-year journey working collaboratively with multiple stakeholders in a highly contested setting. Significant for the evaluation field this project demonstrates high quality and effective Developmental Evaluation using an evaluation-specific methodology.

Kate McKegg led the evaluation in partnership with Judy Oakden and Debbie Goodwin. All are experienced independent New Zealand evaluators from the Kinnect Group and Tuakana Teina Evaluation Collective. Each brought unique skills to the project. Kate specializes in supporting evaluative thinking and practice, skillfully navigating complex settings where people innovate to create systems change. Judy built on complexity theory models and methods and systems thinking approaches to choose wise actions in ambiguous settings. Debbie Goodwin (Ngai Tūhoe,Whakatōhea) brought a crucial kaupapa Māori lens ensuring a Māori worldview was included in all aspects of the evaluation.  Jacqui Henry (Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Wairere, Ngāti Maniapoto, NgātiPourahui) Senior Social Scientist at Waikato Regional Council provided an essential bridge between the evaluators, the Collaborative Stakeholder Group and the internal Waikato Regional Council team supporting the process to help drive the project forward.

“For Waikato Regional Council, winning the award affirms that our investment in evaluation for the collaborative stakeholder process was absolutely the right thing to do. We are extremely proud to be associated with the Kinnect Group and Tuakana Teina Evaluation Collective. We relied on their guidance and expertise, together with our Senior Social Scientist, Jacqui Henry, who maintained oversight of the program through many difficult twists and turns.

The evaluation award demonstrates to the organization, alongside River Iwi (tribes) and all stakeholders involved in the policy process, the value to be gained from evaluation as a key component of any project. We are thrilled to represent the academic and research expertise that is available in Aotearoa/New Zealand and stand proudly on the world stage and be acknowledged in this way.”

Lisbeth B. Schorr, Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of Social Policy
2019 AEA Advocacy and Use Evaluation Award

Lisbeth “Lee” Schorr occupies a unique position in the landscape of American social policy. Her writing has influenced the thought and careers of social policymakers and social welfare practitioners for over 30 years. Her advice is sought by public officials and philanthropic leaders alike. Throughout her career, she has again and again combined the best academic research with field experience to point the way to innovative policy and practice solutions.

Her groundbreaking 1988 book, Within Our Reach: Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage, received the Robert F. Kennedy Book AwardWritten with her journalist husband, Daniel Schorr, it analyzed programs and strategies that succeeded in combating serious social problems and identified the common elements of successful interventions to understand how and why these solutions were effective. Lee’s next book, Common Purpose: Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America, demonstrated that effective interventions depend on the systems’ contexts in which they are implemented.

For the past six years, she has focused on expanding the conventional understanding of evidence as applied to the design, improvement, and evaluation of complex initiatives and the reform of social policies and programs. With colleagues, she founded The Friends of Evidence, which works to strengthen the role of evidence in efforts (public and philanthropic, local, regional, and national) to ensure the wise allocation of scarce resources, and to improve outcomes among the children and families not faring well in today’s society.  She is currently at work on a book tentatively entitled, The Missing Evidence.

“I am thrilled and honored to receive this award from an organization that is doing so much to promote expansive thinking about how our evaluation work can contribute to equity, to the common good, and to achieving better lives for all who are at the margins of American prosperity and well-being.”

Sri Lanka Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation and Center for Evaluation, University of Sri Jayewardenepura
2019 AEA Advocacy and Use Evaluation Award

The Sri Lanka Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation (SLPFE) and Center for Evaluation, University of Sri Jayawardenepura (CFE) have been instrumental through its collective efforts for institutionalization of evaluation, which is an absolute necessity to make sustainable development more effective in the country. Established in 2016, The SLPFE is a Forum of local Parliamentarians whose goal is to enable a nationally owned, transparent, systematic and standard development evaluation process in line with National Evaluation Policy at country level, which ensures aid effectiveness, achievement of results and sustainability of development. The Center for Evaluation (CFE) of University of Sri Jayewaradenepura, Sri Lanka, is the first professional institute in South Asia, which aims to promote a culture of evaluation within multiple sectors of the country, such as academia, the legislature, and public sector. Established in 2016, the CFE focuses on capacity building in evaluation, to support the dissemination and use of evaluation and to promote evaluation as a profession.

The Sri Lanka Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation and Center for Evaluation have been engaged in activities that directly advocate and use evaluation. The international conference for Parliamentarians ‘EvalColombo2018’ and the signing of the ‘Colombo Declaration’ accelerated the promotion of evaluation within the country. Thereafter the establishment of the Select Committee on Evaluation in Parliament and its mandate to produce the draft National Evaluation Bill and strengthening of Parliamentary Research Services formalized the institutionalization of evaluation by the legislature. These activities are further supported by the CFE and its own activities of pioneering the Post Graduate Diploma in Monitoring and Evaluation to produce professionals in evaluation, training programmes for academics and public officials, and linking with Universities to make research and evaluation findings more accessible and comprehensible. The joint efforts of the CFE and SLPFE are exemplary in demonstrating advocacy and use of evaluation for national development.

“The SLFE and CfE receive the AEA advocacy for evaluation award with great honor. The award increases our sense responsibility to make our evaluation work more effective and impactful. We remain committed to continue working toward a stronger evaluation culture in Sri Lanka and beyond.”

AEA congratulates all of the 2019 award winners. We look forward to celebrating with you at Evaluation 2019. Visit the AEA website to learn more about the awards.


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About AEA

The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association and the largest in its field. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products and organizations to improve their effectiveness. AEA’s mission is to improve evaluation practices and methods worldwide, to increase evaluation use, promote evaluation as a profession and support the contribution of evaluation to the generation of theory and knowledge about effective human action. For more information about AEA, visit www.eval.org.