We are pleased to announce the winners of the Inaugural Evaluation Officer Council Recognition Program! These awards honor Federal civil service leaders committed to advancing evaluation and evidence-based policymaking across the Federal Government. The Evaluation Officer Council Recognition Program solicited nominations from both the Federal evaluation community and those who work with Federal evaluators. We received many strong nominations, and an inter-agency panel reviewed the submissions and provided recommendations. OMB presented the awards at the October Evaluation Officer Council meeting.
Below we profile the winners of the 2021 Evaluation Officer Council Recognition awards. The profiles here highlight just some of their noteworthy and leading work in the Federal evaluation community. Their stories show the breadth and depth of Federal evaluation expertise and powerfully illustrate how agencies are using evaluation to improve government. We hope that reading these profiles will leave you as inspired as we were by the dedication, expertise, and collaborative spirit of the Federal evaluation community!
Distinguished Contribution to the Federal Evaluation Community
For EOC members who make truly exceptional contributions to Federal evaluation.
Christina Yancey, Evaluation Officer
Chief Evaluation Office
Department of Labor
Dr. Yancey oversees the U.S. Department of Labor’s Chief Evaluation Office, a centralized evaluation and analytics office that executes a wide-range of scientific projects to meet strategic evidence-building needs of the Department. Her efforts include building the Department’s capacity to leverage existing evidence and resources, including administrative data, for program and policy improvement.
“[Dr. Yancey] has worked tirelessly to promote the transparency, independence, relevance, rigor, and ethics of the [DOL] Chief Evaluation Office. She has dedicated significant time and effort to building bridges to help overcome obstacles to increasing the capacity of the department to access, develop, interpret, and use data… She has shared her keen intellect and boundless energy to find ways for DOL to fulfill new, unfunded Evidence Act requirements while also supporting external, federal-wide efforts to build the capacity of the U.S. government to develop and use evidence… she has led CEO during difficult times, and persevered in improving the depth, breadth and communication of evaluation research at DOL.”
Evaluation Champion Award
For Federal executives who make significant contributions to expanding evaluation activities for their programs or agencies.
Naomi Goldstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning, Research, and Evaluation
Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
Administration for Children and Families
Department of Health and Human Services
Naomi Goldstein serves as Chief Evaluation Officer for the Administration for Children and Families. She leads the agency’s evidence-building, performance management, data improvement, and other learning activities.
Naomi “has made truly exceptional contributions to Federal evaluation over the course of her Federal career. During her 20 years at the Administration for Children and Families, her leadership has strengthened and elevated evaluation principles both within ACF and across the Federal Government. [Among her many contributions], she has made significant contributions to the content and adoption of Federal evaluation policies… and contributed to the Federal evaluation community at large as a mentor to evaluation professionals throughout the Federal Government and left an imprint on the Federal Evaluation workforce.”
Excellence in Program Evaluation Award (EOC)
For EOC members who keep initiatives on track and deliver high quality evaluations that uphold the standards of relevance and utility; independence and objectivity; rigor; transparency, and ethics.
Clemencia Cosentino, Chief Evaluation Officer and Evaluation and Assessment Capability Section Head
Office of Integrative Activities, Office of the Director
National Science Foundation
Clemencia Cosentino works to promote excellence in achieving the NSF mission by supporting a culture of evidence in decision making. She leads a team that conducts or oversees research and evaluations prioritized by NSF and provides technical support to Agency staff to generate and use evidence.
“In her short tenure at NSF, I have witnessed how she has become a driving force for agency efforts to deliver high-quality evaluation … she effectively leveraged implementation of the Evidence Act, extracting tremendous value for the agency out of what could have easily been considered requirements destined for a compliance-focused exercise. Her leadership and high standards are improving capacity for robust (and causal) evidence-building activities that not only adhere to, but actively promote, the NSF Evaluation Policy principles. No one has worked more effectively to inculcate cross- and within-agency positive attitudes and energy toward building a culture of evidence for Federal Government decision-making.”
Excellence in Program Evaluation Award (non-EOC)
For Federal staff who keep initiatives on track and deliver high quality evaluations that uphold the standards of relevance and utility; independence and objectivity; rigor; transparency, and ethics.
Jeffrey Hemmeter, Acting Deputy Associate Commissioner
Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support
Social Security Administration
Jeffrey Hemmeter helps design, conduct, and oversee evaluations, research, and policies related to disability and return to work. He has worked on numerous Social Security Administration demonstrations and studies, focusing on transition-age youth and the Supplemental Security Income program.
“Jeffrey demonstrates excellence through his work within SSA and his efforts to support the Federal evaluation community. He oversees a portfolio of research projects and provides thorough guidance to staff developing and implement the projects to ensure they follow evaluation standards and practices, and produce high-quality studies… he frequently consults with others within SSA to advise on how to evaluate new initiatives, including recent efforts to improve program outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic… He champions evaluation training for himself and for staff, always seeking to expand his knowledge base with new skills and tools… He also contributes to the Federal evaluation community through his role in the Interagency Council on Evaluation Policy.”
Outstanding Evaluation Officer Council Mentor Award
For EOC members who go above and beyond to provide mentorship, support, and guidance to others in the evaluation community.
Kelly Bidwell, Evaluation Officer and Director
Office of Evaluation Sciences
General Services Administration
Kelly Bidwell serves as GSA's Evaluation Officer and Statistical Official, leading Evidence Act Title 1 activities at GSA. Kelly also leads GSA's Office of Evaluation Sciences, an interdisciplinary team of experts who partner with Federal agencies to answer priority questions using rigorous evaluation methods. OES has completed over 80 impact evaluations since 2015.
“Kelly represents the best qualities of an EOC mentor. She continuously makes time for her fellow EOC members to help solve programs great and small – from the strategic … to the tactical. She generously offers her superior knowledge of the challenges of standing up an evaluation function in Federal Government… Kelly welcomed me into the evaluation community when the only thing I knew was that I was not qualified to be part of it. Her sacrifice of her own time in a resource-constrained environment whenever I needed a sounding board made her a true mentor to me.”
Dr. Matt Soldner, Evaluation Officer and Commissioner
National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance
Institute of Education Sciences
Department of Education
He is responsible for the Department’s effort to design, conduct, and learn from evaluation of federal programs and related interventions. He also oversees the Department’s Regional Educational Laboratories and What Works Clearinghouse, which partner with educators and policymakers to build and use high-quality evidence to improve outcomes for students.
“Matt goes above and beyond for fellow EOC members and for others in the evaluation community. He has been so generous with his time on the EOC and as an EO representation on the CDOC and the ACDEB. Matt is always responsive and available for support, troubleshooting and brainstorming - on things big and small. He is an advocate, creative thinker, friendly face/voice, and always engaged and thoughtful as a collaborator. The ultimate mentor and community contributor!”
Evaluation Officer Go-Getter Award
For EOC members who approach their roles and responsibilities with tireless enthusiasm, persistence, and focus.
Rebecca Kruse, Assistant Director for Evaluation
Program Analysis & Evaluation | Office of the Chief Financial Officer | Management Directorate
Department of Homeland Security
In collaboration with the DHS Evaluation Officer, Rebecca coordinates the Department's implementation of Title 1 of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 ('Evidence Act'). She oversees the development and implementation of the evaluation function in DHS, including supporting Components' in their implementation of the DHS Program, Policy, and Organizational Evaluation policy and developing educational and other solutions to increase Department capacity for evaluation.
Rebecca has “been a lightning rod to evaluation capacity at DHS. In the Department of 250,000 people, there is not another that has substantively furthered evaluation capacity and education, especially in so short a time. Rebecca started at DHS as an OES Fellow on detail from NSF… I will admit… I was skeptical that one Evidence Fellow could have so substantive an impact on the department [that’s] a behemoth that we at OMB are often trying to maneuver… I wish it was possible to do an impact evaluation of Rebecca’s efforts, for I am certain, it would highlight the herculean effort and splendid effect she, singlehandedly, has had for the benefit of DHS and the public.”
Federal Evaluation Innovator Award
For the mavericks who think outside the box, work collaboratively, and demonstrate creativity to get the work done.
Brittany Borg, Director of Analysis and Evaluation
Office of Program Performance, Analysis, and Evaluation
Small Business Administration
Brittany is responsible for creation of SBA’s Enterprise Learning Agenda and Annual Evaluation Plan, conducting evaluations and analysis to support evidence-based decisions for SBA programs and operations, and economic analysis for policies and regulations. In this role, Brittany has championed efforts to build actionable, rigorous evidence quickly and at low cost.
For being an “amazing Jill of all trades! She has an incredible attitude and orientation for getting things done… being at a smaller agency, she wears many hats and is always game to scrub in… It would be easy for her to act as many others do across Government – noting that they have too much on their plates, are under-resourced and don’t have time to do one more thing… but her deep focus on how her office and work can support SBA’s mission lead her… During the COVID-19 pandemic [SBA] was able to leverage the system she helped architecture to understand common questions of the people they serve.”