We are excited to announce the relaunch of the Southern California Evaluation Association (SCEA)! This year a group of evaluation professionals came together to envision how SCEA could address the interests and needs of those involved in evaluation in the Southern California area. We have recently updated the website and are currently planning events and other programming for evaluation professionals that provide professional development, collaboration, and networking opportunities. We are also going to be surveying our member list to get input on how SCEA can meet their needs. 

If you are interested in learning more about SCEA there are a few ways to connect with us:  

We look forward to connecting with you!

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SCEA Happy Hour: Thursday, November 8 in Downtown LA

Join us at SCEA’s Fall 2018 Happy Hour in downtown Los Angeles. Connect with local evaluators, meet SCEA organizers, and learn about professional and volunteer opportunities!

Date: Thursday, November 8, 2018
Time: 5:30 – 8:30pm
Location: Everson Royce Bar, 1936 E. 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021
RSVP: https://scea20.wildapricot.org/event-3099959
More info: Email events.scea@gmail.com

SCEA Fall 2018 Happy Hour Flyer

Member Spotlight – Nida Rinthapol

Nida ImageEducation:

University of California Santa Barbara

Ph.D. Education with emphases in Cultural Perspective and Comparative Education and Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences.

M.A. Education

B.A. Psychology

What is your current position(s) and what do you do?

I am currently teaching research method courses in the Department of Child and Adolescent Development at California State University Northridge. I am also serving as a Co-Chair in the data and analytics workgroup within the Southern California Evaluation Association (SCEA) where I manage and maintain membership information, develop various surveys, and compile reports to support the SCEA with data and analyses to inform planning and decision making within the organization.

What led you to the field of evaluation?

My dissertation committee member, Dr. John T. Yun, the former director and founder of University of California Educational Evaluation Center (UCEC) got me involved in the field of evaluation. By participating in the UCEC during graduate school, I learned and developed skills and interest in the field. That was where I met Dr. Anne T. Vo who was also a graduate student working for the center at the time. Dr. Vo is now serving as a Chair for the Southern California Evaluation Association (SCEA).

What has been your favorite moment in your career so far?

At University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where I was the Associated Director for Data Resources, my colleague Kelly Wahl and I worked on evaluating grading practice and its impact on student academic success. We found that criterion-referenced grading (i.e., assigns grades without curving) promotes learning and minimizes achievement gaps in school. With this knowledge, we aimed to encourage faculty and educators to incorporate this way of grading into their teaching practice.

Moments like that made me recognize the power of research and evaluation in the context of school reform.

What motivates you at work?

My students. I love seeing how their eyes light up when they talk about their research interest or when they finally understand difficult course concepts that they had been struggling with. The opportunity to mentor and also learn from my students, their interests, aspirations, and goals continue to motivate me as an educator.

If you could give advice to young professionals in evaluation, what would it be?

Networking. Networking. Networking. I can’t stress that enough. It does not have to be something formal like academic presentations or workshops. At SCEA, we offer many opportunities to network with fellow local evaluators in Southern California through happy hours, and other local gatherings (we have academic workshops and professional panels too!).

What are your favorite resources for evaluators?

American Evaluation Association (AEA) website (www.eval.org) is probably the most well visited site among evaluators. I personally would recommend other evaluators not to forget resources near you such as your employer, professors, or colleagues. Most of my opportunities have come from those that I have already known.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I am fascinated by the real estate market in Southern California. I started investing in real estate after graduate school, and I often check out different listings online during my free time and go to open houses on the weekends. The nerd and entrepreneur in me have developed evaluation rubrics in assessing values and returns as I come across each property.

News from the SCEA Evidence-Based Policy Making Panel Event

On Friday, August 17, 2018, the Southern California Evaluation Association (SCEA) co-hosted an Evidence-Based Policy Making Panel Discussion with the Claremont Evaluation Center (CEC) as part of their Professional Development Evaluation Workshop Series. A panel of four evaluation professionals discussed emerging issues and strategies for supporting evidence-based decision-making in organizations. These individuals included Leslie Fierro (Claremont Graduate University), Nick Hart (Bipartisan Policy Center), Andrew McEachin (RAND Corporation), Stephanie Shipman (U.S. Government Accountability Office, retired).

The event was held in person at Claremont Graduate University and broadcasted as an online webinar with over 50 attendees participating worldwide. Panelists shared their thoughts and experiences on the perceived nature of evidence, its uses and non-use in decision-making processes, and how evaluators can translate the implications of federal expectations to practice across different contexts. Panelists also shared their tips on on finding creative ways to engage policy makers who are not interested in reading lengthy journal articles or reports, finding ways to broker knowledge, and explaining the importance of evidence to policy makers.

A big thank you to our great panelists and to everyone who attended in person or online.

Stay tuned for more SCEA events! We will be hosting another event in the fall. If you are not currently an SCEA member, become a member here.

SCEA Member Spotlight – Natalie D. Jones

Natalie Jones SCEA PictureEducation:

Claremont Graduate University – Ph.D.  Evaluation and Applied Research Methods, (In Progress)

Claremont Graduate University – M.A. Organizational Behavior and Evaluation

California State University, Channel Islands  – B.A. Psychology

What is your current position(s) and what do you do?

I am currently an evaluation consultant with the Claremont Evaluation Center (CEC). In this role, I lead several evaluation projects and am a member of the evaluation team on various other evaluation and organizational development projects. As an evaluation consultant with the CEC I am responsible for evaluation activities that span the entire evaluation process from engaging stakeholders, developing evaluation designs, designing logic models, constructing evaluation instruments, implementing evaluations, analyzing and collecting data, creating data visualizations, to generating useful evaluation reports. As a current Evaluation PhD student at Claremont Graduate University (CGU), I am part of a research team that studies Data Visualization and its application to evaluation practice.  

What led you to the field of evaluation?

I originally attended Claremont Graduate University to pursue a degree in Organizational Behavior. After learning about evaluation through CGU’s Professional Development Workshops, I realized that evaluation brought together my varied interests in methodology, organizational development, interpersonal relationships, social science, and tackling real-world issues. The more experience I gain in evaluation, the more I see its potential as a mechanism of change for issues that we face as a society, both domestically and globally.

What has been your favorite moment in your career so far?

Seeing stakeholders get excited about evaluation, and thinking about the potential insights it can provide for their programs.

What motivates you at work?

As someone who loves to learn, being in the evaluation field has provided me with the opportunity to work and learn from a variety of programs and engage in numerous new experiences. Overall, the opportunity that evaluation provides to aid in the betterment of programs, organizations, and society as a whole is the driving factor in my love for the work I get to do. 

If you could give advice to young professionals in evaluation, what would it be?

Reach out to experienced professionals in the field. The evaluators I have spoken with have been excited to share their knowledge and discuss their insights about the evaluation field.

 Attend an AEA conference! Attending evaluation conferences has allowed me to meet a wide range of practitioners and learn about the various opportunities that exist in the field.

What are your favorite resources for evaluators?

Besides the AEA Website, I have found the program evaluation resources provided by the CDC to be invaluable (https://www.cdc.gov/eval/tools/index.htm). Another favorite resource, that is a go to for me, is Dana Wanzer’s blog which is filled with great tools and tips for evaluators (https://danawanzer.com/blog/).

What do you like to do in your free time?

Growing up in Los Angeles, I enjoy discovering new food trucks and coffee spots, catching a Dodger game, and watching LAFC soccer. Most of all, I love to travel, exploring new locations, trying various cuisines, and meeting new people.  

SCEA Event: Evidence-Based Policy Making Panel Discussion on August 17

Please join us for an expert panel discussion on Friday, August 17th from 12:15pm-1:15pm in Claremont! This event is free and is co-sponsored by the Southern California Evaluation Association (SCEA) and the Claremont Evaluation Center (CEC) as part of the CEC Professional Development Evaluation Workshop Series. Our panelists will discuss emerging issues and strategies for supporting evidence-based decision-making in organizations.

Panelists will include:

  • Leslie Fierro, Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University
  • Nick Hart, Ph.D., Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Andrew McEachin, Ph.D., RAND Corporation
  • Stephanie Shipman, Ph.D., U.S. Government Accountability Office (Retired)

Join the online webinar or come in person to meet others in the evaluation community.

Please click here to register for the event or enter the following address in your browser: https://scea20.wildapricot.org/event-3005214

Details on location, parking, and virtual meeting information will be emailed to those who register.

Have questions, comments, or concerns? Email events.scea@gmail.com.

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you then!
Miriam Jacobson
Astrid Hendricks
SCEA Events and Community Engagement Team

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