In one sentence, describe your current role:
I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning, Research, and Evaluation and Chief Evaluation Officer for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
What is one thing that makes you excited to come to work every day?
The learning activities of my office support the helping activities of ACF. This two-fold mission is powerful motivation.
How did you get started in Federal evaluation?
After getting a degree in public policy, I had a number of different jobs in and around policy and research related to low-income families. When I heard of a job opening in the ACF Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE), I jumped at it.
Describe one evaluation that you worked on that provided useful and timely information to shape a critical program or policy?
ACF established the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse to meet the requirements of the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018. The Clearinghouse systematically reviews evidence on the effectiveness of programs and services intended to provide enhanced support to children and families and prevent foster care placements. The Clearinghouse identifies the evidence-based programs and services for which states can claim federal reimbursement as part of the title IV-E prevention program. The Clearinghouse plays an important role in supporting the law’s goal of broadening the focus of the child welfare system on strengthening families to avoid the trauma of unnecessary removal of children from their families.
What do you wish more people in government understood about evaluation?
I wish more people understood that evaluation can be used for supporting innovation and improvement, not just for backward-looking assessments.
What’s a myth about evaluation in the government or more generally that you’d like to bust?
I wish that people outside government were more aware of the dedication, creativity, talent, and integrity that I see in the federal evaluation workforce.
What advice do you have for new Federal evaluators?
Keep in mind that evaluation is a human enterprise. While it’s necessary to produce good quality work, it’s also critical to build relationships with the intended users of the work (program officials, service providers, policy-makers, and others), to understand the questions they want answered and what forms of information are most useful to them, and to collaborate in interpreting findings.
Where can readers find more information about your office?
OPRE Website: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/opre
ACF Research and Evaluation Agenda: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/opre/research-evaluation-agenda
OPRE Twitter: https://twitter.com/OPRE_ACF
OPRE Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OPRE.ACF
OPRE Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/opre_acf/
OPRE LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/opreacf/mycompany/
About the Series: In the Spotlight serves to introduce you to the people and offices across the Federal Government who are doing the hard work of undertaking program evaluation and shine a light on their many notable accomplishments and activities. Through this series, you will get to know the individuals who are leading and conducting the critical evaluation, research, and analytic work happening throughout the government. You’ll also discover the many offices where this work takes place, especially those that may fly under the radar. In the Spotlight will highlight how evaluation and related activities, and the staff that undertake them, are critical to inform policies, program design, decision-making, and advance evidence-based policymaking.Tags: