American Evaluation Association Announces 2012 Awards Winners

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Awards Ceremony Friday, Oct. 26, in Minneapolis, MN

AEA awards represent a feather in the cap of a select few of our members annually.

The American Evaluation Association will honor four individuals and one group for outstanding work at its annual awards luncheon to be held on Friday, Oct. 26, in conjunction with its Evaluation 2012 conference in Minneapolis, MN. AEA is an international professional association that comprises more than 7,600 members worldwide. Honored this year will be recipients in five categories who have been involved with cutting-edge evaluation and research initiatives that have impacted citizens around the world.

"AEA awards represent a feather in the cap of a select few of our members annually,” notes AEA’s 2012 President Rodney Hopson. “This year's awardees are no different. Our colleagues are both deserving and represent the outstanding recognition of theory, practice, and/or service to the field, discipline, and association from our junior members to our senior members, locally and internationally."

The recipients of AEA’s 2012 awards include:

Tarek Azzam, Assistant Professor, Claremont Graduate University
2012 Marcia Guttentag Promising New Evaluator Award

A young researcher, gifted teacher, published author, and popular presenter, Azzam has been recognized for having great influence so early in his career. At just five years post graduate school, Azzam has been involved in more than 20 evaluation projects in education, health and prevention, international development and capacity building. He has authored more than 10 published papers that focus on the development of new methods suited for real world evaluations. These methods attempt to address some of the logistical, political, and technical challenges that evaluators commonly face. His work aims to improve the rigor and credibility of evaluations and to increase its potential impact on programs and policies. Azzam has been involved in multiple projects that have included the evaluation of student retention programs at the K-12 and university level, Science Technology Engineering Math education programs, pregnancy prevention programs, children’s health programs, and international development efforts for the Rockefeller and Packard Foundations.

States AEA’s Awards Committee: “Azzam’s accomplishments are many and he exemplifies all that could be hoped for in a new evaluator. He is a prolific published scholar/educator, innovator, mentor and trainer who has won the profound respect of his colleagues.”

Katherine A. Dawes, Director, Evaluation Support Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2012 Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Government Evaluation Award

A federal employee credited with placing an unprecedented emphasis on the importance of environmental evaluation, Dawes, has had a presence at EPA for the past 20 years. She started as an analyst in 1990, has worked in the brownfields and underground storage tanks programs, on government innovation and environmental justice issues, and in 2000 was selected to spearhead its new Evaluation Support Division.

A 1988 graduate of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire who earned a dual master’s of public administration and geography at Syracuse University in New York, Dawes is credited with building capacity and support for environmental evaluation at EPA, outreach to other government agencies and around the world, and is well known for her adeptness at cross-agency connections and her collaborative approach.

“Katherine Dawes’ story,” notes nominator Beverly Parsons, executive director of InSites, “shows her accomplishments in building evaluation within her agency and across the federal government, sparking an international network of environmental evaluators, and contributing to the work of AEA both within the federal government and in the environmental field.”

Dawes served a critical role in the founding of the Environmental Evaluators Network, which holds an annual forum in Washington, DC. Similar groups have since spawned in Canada, Europe and Mexico.

Katherine is an active member of the Federal Evaluators, the Environmental Evaluators Network (http://www.environmentalevaluators.net/), as well as the American Evaluation Association. She has Masters Degrees in Public Administration (1990) and Geography (1993) from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and a Bachelors of Arts from Dartmouth College (1988). She is also a founding and former Trustee of the Environmental Leadership Program, a non-profit, non-partisan organization designed to train and support the next generation of environmental leaders.

Melvin M. Mark, Professor, Pennsylvania State University
2012 Paul F. Lazarsfeld Evaluation Theory Award

Mark is recognized for his groundbreaking work as an author, his critical eye and insight as an editor for the American Journal of Evaluation, and his role as teacher and mentor both to young students and practicing professionals. Among his books are Evaluation: An integrated framework for understanding, guiding, and improving policies and programs (Jossey-Bass, 2000; with Gary Henry and George Julnes) and the co-edited volumes Evaluation Studies Review Annual, Vol. 3 (1978), Social Science and Social Policy (1985), Multiple Methods in Program Evaluation (1987), Realist Evaluation (1998), SAGE Handbook of Evaluation (2006), What Counts as Credible Evidence in Applied Research and Evaluation Practice (2009), Evaluation in Action: Interviews with Expert Evaluators (2008), Evaluation Policy and Evaluation Practice, (2009), Social Psychology and Evaluation (2011) and Advancing Validity in Outcome Evaluation: Theory and Practice (2011).

A 1974 graduate of University of Nebraska-Lincoln who earned his Master’s and his Ph.D. at Northwestern University, Mark served as AEA president in 2006 and has served on numerous committees and task forces. In addition to his role as AJE editor from 1999-2004, he has served on the editorial boards of AJE, the American Journal of Community Psychology, Evaluation Studies Review Annual, Evaluation Review, New Directions for Evaluation, Evaluation and Society, Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation, Psychological Methods, Handbook of Social Research Methods, and the SAGE Handbook of Social Science Research and Ethics.

Mark is cited frequently, a barometer of his influence in the field more broadly.

“There are very few scholars in the field of evaluation that can claim the breadth, depth, and quality of contributions that characterize Mel’s work,” says Tom Schwandt, current editor of the American Journal of Evaluation. “He has significantly influenced the way the field considers matters of methodology, theory and practice. For nearly 35 years, he has been making important contributions to our thinking about the merits of experimental methods in evaluation.”

Marco Segone, Senior Evaluation Speciaist, UNICEF
2012 Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Evaluation Practice Award

A New York City-based evaluator with international ties and influence, Segone is recognized for his pioneering role in the creation of professional associations around the world – including Africa, Latin American and Eastern Europe – as well as the integration of technology to more universally share knowledge, provide critical resources and build capacity.

“It is hard to find any professional evaluator who has had a greater influence on more individuals, institutions and associations than Marco has had,” says Thomaz Chianca, an international evaluation specialist in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“Marco has taken on the initiative of connecting the world of evaluators, ensuring that through webinars everyone could exchange, debate, share ideas. He has stimulated our thoughts and has acted as a facilitator and a convener for the global M&E community. This is invaluable,” states Michael Bamberger.

Segone – who has been affiliated with UNICEF since 1996 - has helped deliver technical assistance in Latin America and the Caribbean; co-founded and chaired the Nigerian Monitoring & Evaluation Network with representatives of the Government of Niger, United Nations, and the academic community; and co-founded the Brazilian Evaluation Network. Segone also served as vice president of the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE) from 2003-2005; has been elected three times as co-chair of the United Nations Evaluation Group’s Task Force on National Evaluation Capacity Development; is co-chair of EvalPartners and forged a strategic partnership with evaluation associations including IOCE and IDEAS, as well as UN agencies and foundations, to create a website (http://www.MyM&E.org) that offers free access to live webinar series with internationally renowned keynote speakers, wikievaluation, videos, webchats and hundreds of resource materials. Since its launch in May 2010, more than 110,000 visitors from 160 countries downloaded more almost 400,000 pages.

“Most of us engage in evaluation capacity building one person at a time, one team at a time, or at best, and most often, one organization at a time. Marco Segone, however, has a bold and ambitious goal of building the world’s evaluation capacity, especially in developing countries,” adds Hallie Preskill, 2007 President of AEA.

The Paris Declaration Phase 2 Evaluation Team
Bernard Wood, Julia Betts, Florence Etta, Dorte Kabell, Naomi Ngwira, Francisco Sagasti, Mallika Samaranayake, Julian Gayfer, Niels Dabelstein, Ted Kliest
2012 Outstanding Evaluation Award

While evaluations more traditionally focus on projects and programs, a new focus on joint evaluations for large-scale projects including multiple parties and more global perspective and impact is emerging. This evaluation focused on implementation of Paris Declaration Principles rather than a specific project or program.

The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness was endorsed in 2005 by over 150 countries and organizations including the more developed aid donor counties like the U.S., developing countries from around the world, and international development institutions like the World Bank, the United Nations Development Group, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Paris Declaration was considered a landmark international agreement and the culmination of several decades of attempts to improve the quality of aid and its impact on development. The Paris Declaration laid out a roadmap of 56 practical commitments. In 2008, the principles were reaffirmed and the Accra Action Agenda added.

The evaluation of The Paris Declaration initially documented how its many principles were being implemented and operationalized; then later assessed results on the ground, in policy development and more broadly. A final report summarized, analyzed, and synthesized more than 50 studies in 21 partner countries and across 18 donor agencies, as well as several studies on special themes. It started with a standardized template to guide the synthesis, entailed viewing implementation as a journey, and featured periodic updates, recommendations and follow-up. The evaluation took a year to design and a year to carry out.

“The evaluation process was participatory and consultative among partner countries, donors, and international organization participants,” notes Michael Quinn Patton, a pioneer in the field of evaluation who nominated the work for the Outstanding Evaluation Award. “An internet platform was available to stakeholders to support access to all documents, facilitate communications, and support transparency. Country ownership by partner countries was made a priority to ensure full participation and engagement. Providing sufficient support to make the evaluation a trilingual exercise – English, French and Spanish – was aimed at ensuring full participation in and access to all aspects of the evaluation. Stakeholder involvement assures the relevance of evaluations and evaluator independence ensures credibility.”

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 in order 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 http://www.eval.org.

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Gwen Newman
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