Former United Nations official Deborah Rugg joins Claremont Graduate University to lead evaluation efforts in New York City

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Rugg says ‘stars have aligned’ for CGU’s expansion with UN Sustainable Development Goals

Deborah Rugg (UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz)

“The university is poised to take a real leadership role, and I’m very pleased to lead this effort. We have an opportunity to produce real change. We’re in an exciting and strategic era for a new kind of thinking about evaluation." -- Deborah Rugg

Deborah Rugg, a former United Nations (UN) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official focusing on effective approaches to global HIV prevention and sustainable development, will lead Claremont Graduate University’s (CGU) new evaluation center in New York City, the university announced today. 
 
Rugg will develop the new center’s work in response to the evaluation needs of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the evaluation leadership training that UN delegates, staff, national governments, and international philanthropies will require as they prepare to deploy SDG strategies around the world.
 
“Deborah comes to us at a time when the need for global evaluation efforts couldn’t be greater,” said Stewart Donaldson, who heads CGU's evaluation efforts as the dean of the schools of social sciences, policy and evaluation, and community and global health. “When you consider her career at the UN and CDC, you realize she has the perfect background to lead us in this new endeavor. We're thrilled to welcome her to the university.”
 
With more than 35 years of national and international evaluation experience in HIV prevention and development work, Rugg most recently served as Director of the Inspection and Evaluation Division in the UN Secretariat and as chair of the UN Evaluation Group (UNEG). UNEG oversees UN evaluation norms and standards and a global network of lead evaluators from 50 international agencies across the UN system, including UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, and the UN Peacekeeping Operation. 
 
“There is a major sea change taking place in attitudes towards evaluation, and CGU really couldn’t be better-positioned than it is now,” she said. “The university is poised to take a real leadership role, and I’m very pleased to lead this effort. We have an opportunity to produce real change. We’re in an exciting and strategic era for a new kind of thinking about evaluation. Evaluators can help guide the process and contribute the evidence about what is and isn’t working. They can play a catalytic role in achieving these new global goals.”
 
For more than 20 years, CGU has been a pioneer in the evaluation field with the Claremont Evaluation Center (CEC) — Rugg’s directorship of the Claremont Evaluation Center-NY headquarters continues a robust expansion of the CEC’s national presence that includes the opening of the university’s Washington, DC-based center housing The Evaluators' Institute in 2015.
 
As an example of the "major sea change," Rugg points to comments made last week by Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General elect, that “we need a culture of evaluation—independent and real time.”
 
"Evaluation, at the highest levels, helps policy makers and decision makers implement programs and policies in a much more rational way,” she explained. “This is extremely critical during times of low resources: decisions have to be made to ensure that resources are put to the best use. You can’t know that unless you do evaluation and use the results.”

Rugg’s CDC, UN service
 
With a PhD in Health/Medical Psychology from UC San Francisco's School of Medicine, Rugg served for nearly two decades with the CDC as an evaluation specialist and epidemiologist in the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS).  There she assisted governments, ministries of health, NGOs, and other international groups to set up country- and global-level monitoring and evaluation systems, global indicators, and innovative evaluation trainings as they confronted the global spread of HIV.
 
Rugg left the CDC in 2005 to serve as an evaluation director and team leader for UNAIDS, based in Geneva, Switzerland.  After nearly six years, in 2011 Rugg was invited to New York City by then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to oversee the UN Secretariat’s primary evaluation division. 
 
During her UN tenure, she led the drive for the first General Assembly resolution (UN General Assembly Resolution 69/237, which was approved on Dec .19, 2014) calling for evaluation training and evaluation capacity at the country level. She was also instrumental last summer during her assignment with the U.S. Mission to the UN in New York in ensuring that meaningful evaluation language was included in the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN's 2015 call to action to eradicate poverty and protect resources for future generations.
 
“Getting that evaluation language into the initiative [the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development] was critical," she said, "it will open doors for evaluators everywhere to garner support to enhance their skills and play a stronger role as countries start working on the SDGs.”
 
A center for strategic leadership: CEC-NY

As director of the university's CEC-NY headquarters, Rugg said she plans to focus on evaluation leadership training as it relates to the SDGs.
 
“This is going to be an international center that focuses on strategic leadership,” she explains. “We will focus on policy makers and executive leadership as well as strong leadership skills among evaluators, two areas crucially in need of attention. Our center will be unique. Looking back on my career, I can honestly say there is nothing quite like it in the world.”
 
Rugg praised CGU for establishing an evaluation presence on the East Coast, and she envisions CEC-NY as providing students with critical opportunities to learn the ways of diplomatic communities and find placements in UN agencies and possibly with various missions as they seek to advance the SDGs in their home countries.
 
Rugg said her decision to transition from governmental service to CGU was based on a need for more evaluation training to make the implementing of SDGs at the country level possible.
 
"It's clear to me that genuine capacity-building is the name of the game now," she said. "I believe that evaluation is a citizen’s right, that is, the right to know just how effective the policies and programs offered to us, or on our behalf, really are. We need to evaluate the social impact of the private and public sectors, philanthropy, and governments. In the future, internet access to real-time information will raise the bar for citizens wanting to know more about what works.  So we must train the next cohorts of evaluators accordingly. We need evaluators ready to be change agents in this fast-changing world.”

For Rugg, CEC-NY will address this need for future cohorts of evaluators.

“I want to train a cohort of ‘strategic global evaluators’ who will change the world by playing a role in advocacy, synergistic leadership and more effective, innovative communications,” she said. “We are also focusing on the critical role of a growing number of evaluation champions among national and global political leaders and program managers. This is something crucial to turning the SDGs into a reality, and CGU is ready to meet that challenge."
 
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Founded in 1925, Claremont Graduate University is one of a select few American universities devoted solely to graduate-level education with more than 2,000 students pursuing graduate degrees in more than 20 distinct areas of study. The university belongs to a consortium of schools in Southern California that includes Pomona College, Pitzer College, Claremont McKenna College, Scripps College, Harvey Mudd College, and Keck Graduate Institute.
 
Media: For more information about Deborah Rugg and CGU’s expansion of its evaluation program, please contact CGU’s Executive Communications Director Nick Owchar at (909) 621-8396 or nick.owchar(at)cgu(dot)edu

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since: 01/2009
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