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:  

  • Review our website and learn about our mission statement, leadership team, and upcoming events
  • Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Join our mailing list to hear updates about the group
  • Email us at scea.us.info@gmail.com

We look forward to connecting with you!

Advertisements

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

SCEA Flyer_8.6.18

News from the SCEA Board Retreat

On July 13th, SCEA held their annual board retreat. The group discussed the organization’s mission statement, work accomplished this past year, and short and long-term goals. We are excited about the upcoming year! 

Planned are professional development events, networking opportunities, and recruitment of additional SCEA board members. We are eager to expand the work of SCEA to offer evaluators in our community more opportunities for learning and collaboration. 

Interested in getting more involved with SCEA? We are currently seeking volunteers. For more information, please contact Anne Vo at annevo@usc.edu. You can read more about our current board members here.

Thanks to all our members for being involved — we look forward to seeing you at future events!

SCEA Event Recap: Data Visualization 101 for Evaluators (April 28, 2018)

On April 28, SCEA organized and facilitated an event focused on data visualization at WeWork in Hollywood. The topic came from our members, who indicated on a membership survey in 2017 that this was an area of professional interest. Two groups of presenters shared their expertise with us: Stephen Maack and Arlene Hopkins (GIS and Evaluation), and Alma Boutin-Martinez and Hilary Molina (Infogram and Tableau). It was a great time of learning and networking! Special thanks to Laura Keene for offering us a venue at WeWork to host our event.

 

Data visualization resources identified as useful by our presenters:

It was great seeing old and new faces. We hope to see you at our upcoming event in August! More information to come soon.

SCEA Member Spotlight – Michelle Molina

MicheleMolinaSCEA

Education:
University of California, Los Angeles – Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

University of California, Los Angeles – Master of Arts in Education, Social Research Methodology

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

I’m an independent consultant who partners with non-profits to collect data so that they can show their impact, learn, and make better decisions. By helping the organizations consider their context, my aim is to help them refine their goals so that they can collect data that is meaningful.

A lot of my work comes from subcontracting agreements with other evaluators. I enjoy doing this because I get an inside look at how others work with clients, all while strengthening my skills. I often help others with qualitative and quantitative analysis (including social network analysis), data visualization, report writing, and facilitating discussions. 

The project I currently spend the most time on is a Kaiser Permanente initiative funding several coalitions implementing healthy eating and active living strategies in their communities. On this project, the evaluation team works really closely with the grant management team. Together, we regularly discuss the progress each community has made and consider how we can better support their work. Regularly our data collection is used to inform internal conversations within each coalition. For example, we recently collected survey data on coalition functioning. We took these results to coalition meetings and helped facilitate discussions around each coalitions strengths and weaknesses. These sessions will not only allowed the coalition time to reflect and identify opportunities to improve, but also gave us data on how coalitions function within the initiative.

What led you to the field of evaluation?

The programs I participated in had a huge impact on my life and helped guide me towards higher education. I was interested in giving back, but also curious about what made programs effective.

Finding evaluation itself was a bit of a stroke of luck. Early after transferring to UCLA, I had to take a 6 unit class that was notorious for being difficult. I decided to look for another class with a lot of units in order to better manage my course work. The class I chose was the first undergraduate class Dr. Marvin Alkin offered on program evaluation.

I fell in love with evaluation. At the time, I was just learning about research methods and how research is used to grow our body of knowledge. I was quickly able to see how evaluation would allow me to use those technical skills in a real world setting that could have an actual impact on the lives of others. I often think about how lucky I am to have found something that combines a lot of my interests. I will always be thankful to Dr. Alkin!

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

Last year I helped a 4H group in Tucson, Arizona build their evaluation capacity by considering their context. We worked together to develop a theory of change, thought about their stakeholder’s perspectives, identified assumptions, thought about what lifecycle stage their program is in, and more. We reviewed the evaluation tools they are required to implement and identified outcomes they were still interested in exploring.

Recently, we planned an Evaluation-Skill-a-Ton where they can teach their youth about evaluation while collecting data. For example, the youth rotated between a few stations where they would respond to prompts aimed at answering the evaluation questions. Afterwards, the youth were asked to review the data provided by others and think about how to interpret it. The 4H coordinators were excited about this plan and thought it could provide more meaningful information than a survey could. I will be hearing back from them about the event soon.

What motivates you at work?

The organizations I work with are filled with dedicated and passionate people who are working to improve the lives of others. I help give them the tools they need so that they can tell a compelling story to others about the importance of their work. Plus, they are able to use the data to reflect upon what’s working and what’s not, allowing them to improve and make important decisions. So, when data collection and analysis starts to feel monotonous, I remind myself of how helpful the ultimate product might be.

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

Continue learning. Stay on top of what’s going on in the field. Things change and so will evaluation. By keeping up with trends you’ll be able figure out what the best approach is faster. There will be situations where clients will ask you to use an approach. You’ll need to have a general understanding of it so that you can effectively advocate for or against it. Also, learn new skills that you’re interested in even if you’re not sure how they might be connected with evaluation. For example, I recently started dabbling in coding, I was able to use my very limited knowledge to help easily figure out how to use Kumu.io (a social network analysis software) when I was asked to use it on a project. Furthermore, you can learn from most situations (including missteps). For instance, you can reflect on conversations that didn’t go well to improve next time. As long as you have an eye out for lessons learned you can continue to strengthen your skills.  

Connect with other evaluators. Building a network is important in any field. Every project that I have enjoyed being a part of came about in some way because of the network I’ve built. Either they know of me through the evaluation book club. Or, received a recommendation from a friend to work with me. Luckily, most evaluators are kind people who care about the work they do. Evaluation is still a relatively small field and many people find their way to it indirectly. So, evaluators are usually more than happy to talk to other evaluators. If you reach out, you’re more than likely to receive a positive response.

What are your favorite resources for evaluators?

The Workbook for the Systems Evaluation Protocol – I’m really interested in helping organizations think about their context and develop a theory of change. This protocol offers guidance on how to take organizations through that process.  (https://core.human.cornell.edu/documents/Workbook_1.1_covered.pdf)

Netway – This helps you easily put a theory of change on paper. It is from the same people who developed the Systems Evaluation Protocol. (https://evaluationnetway.com/)

What do you like to do in your free time?

I spend a lot of my free time relaxing. I like to read books, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, hang out, have a beer, and sometimes I also go on hikes.