Plenary Sessions

Sunday Learning Event

Anti-racism and the Implications for Evaluation Practice

Sunday, May 9, 2021, 1pm to 4 pm Eastern

The Canadian Evaluation Society (CES) recognizes that evaluators have a role to play in addressing systemic issues that affect people’s lives. Evaluators are in a position to influence the decisions of governments, non-governmental organizations and other key service providers whose actions impact our daily realities. To support the integration of anti-racism work into the evaluation community, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of C2021 invites all conference delegates to attend a complimentary workshop on anti-racism with a particular focus on the culture, theory and practice of evaluation. This workshop will take place on Sunday May 9th from 1-4pm EST and is included with your conference registration fee as part of C2021’s objective to support evaluators in dismantling systemic and structural oppression and learning new ways to acknowledge and address the struggles of historically oppressed communities. Additional information on this important learning event will be forthcoming.

Monday Plenary

Evaluation Utilization: Transformational or More of the Same? 

As noted by King and Atkin (2019), evaluation use is integral to the way in which the evaluation field now judges the worth of our efforts. They observe that: 1) evaluation use is prominent in our professionalization documents, i.e., our Canadian/US Joint Committee Program Evaluation Standards in professional practice, our Canadian evaluation competencies; 2) reflected in prominent theories used to conduct our evaluations, e.g., utilization-focused evaluation; and 3) researchers’ continuing focus on evaluation use. The question is whether our evaluations are useful for broader transformation or learning by the programs and organizations we work with or serve to merely reinforce the status quo.

We must be mindful of our own biases as each of us carry within our evaluation tool box a set of values, knowledge and approaches that may or may not reinforce existing power imbalances, systemic biases and our own unconscious biases reflecting our various privileges. Without better understanding how these factors influence the dynamics of power and disempowerment within the conduct of our evaluations, we will  continue to fall short of the promise of evaluation for many marginalized voices. 

This keynote panel will engage leading evaluators from Canada and Latin America to help us better understand how we can design and conduct evaluations that contribute to transformational change and learning for the betterment of programs and their clients.

Moderator: Jennifer Birch-Jones (she / her / hers); a CE who identifies as LGBTQI2S+ and is a Senior Consultant, Facilitator and Trainer at Intersol. 

Silvia Salinas Mulder, MA (panelist)
General Coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Monitoring, Evaluation and Systematization Network (ReLAC). President of IOCE and Co-Chair of EvalPartners

Silvia is a Bolivian anthropologist, with a specialisation in Andean Studies and a Master’s degree in Decentralization and Public Administration. She cumulates thirty years of experience as senior consultant, researcher and evaluator in the social development sector, linked to international cooperation, governmental and civil society organisations. She is recognised for her systemic and creative approaches to key poverty, development and exclusion topics, like gender, violence, rights, sexual and reproductive health, aging and adolescents. She advocates for transformative planning, management and evaluation approaches.

Kim van der Woerd, PhD (panelist)
Member of the ’Namgis Nation of Alert Bay BC, and a principal at Reciprocal Consulting. 

Kim completed her PhD in psychology at SFU. Her dissertation was the recipient of the Michael Scriven Dissertation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Evaluation Theory, Methodology or Practice. She also received the Canadian Evaluation Society Contributions to Evaluation in Canada Award in 2014 for her mentorship of Indigenous students and the 2018 BC Achievement Foundation Community Achievement Award, and BC Achievement Foundation Mitchell Award. (2019).

Jane Whynot, PhD candidate (panelist)
University of Ottawa

Jane specializes in performance with a background that spans twenty yearsin independent management for both the public and private sectors. Jane is a recognized expert in gender based analysis plus. She was President of the National Capital Chapter of the CES, Chair of the CES-NCC Annual Learning Event,  co-chair of the 2014 CES conference and is a CESEF Case Competition judge. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Melbourne and is finalizing her PhD at the University of Ottawa.

Wednesday plenary

Creating, valuing, and using strategic information

In addition to physical, financial, and human resources, as well as systems of rules to tie them up, organizations cannot survive without information. Information can be routine, operational, or strategic; it can address the organisation itself, its competition, or its environment. Evaluation tends to produce information at the strategic level – sometimes internal, other times outward-looking – but there are other sources of strategic information that affect organization life, i.e., evaluators do not have the monopoly over performance information. Recognizing the complex environment in which they operate, evaluators have to manage their influence in and over organizations and they have to learn to read the nexus of forces in which whey are inserted. This plenary session will explore planning for knowledge impact, from before knowledge production to the end of the knowledge usage flow.

Moderator: Benoît Gauthier, CE FCES, program evaluator in private practice for three decades, educator, and manager of evaluation-related international not-for-profits, of late.

David Phipps, PhD (keynote)
Executive Director, Research & Innovation Services, York University

Dr. Phipps manages all research grants and agreements including knowledge and technology transfer for York University. He has received honours and awards from the Canadian Association of Research Administrators, Institute for Knowledge Mobilization, International Network of Research Management Societies and the EU based Knowledge Economy Network. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work in knowledge mobilization and was named the most influential knowledge mobilizer in Canada. He sits on knowledge mobilization committees around the world and is Network Director for Research Impact Canada.

Kathryn Graham, PhD (discussant)
Executive Director, Performance Management and Evaluation, Alberta Innovates

Kathryn  is a co‐founder of the International School on Research Impact Assessment and was Director of the School when it was hosted in Banff in 2014. She is the co-director of the international AESIS course “Integrating Societal Impact in a Research Strategy”. She has over 25 years of strategic evaluation experience in health care, research and innovation. She is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and has successfully implemented their health research impact framework and was instrumental in its application nationally and internationally.

Veronica M. Olazabal (discussant)
Senior Adviser and Director, Measurement, Evaluation and Organizational Performance , The Rockefeller Foundation, and President Elect of the AEA

Veronica Olazabal is Senior Adviser and Director on the Organizational Performance team at The Rockefeller Foundation. Veronica has nearly 20 years of experience designing, implementing and leading global programs, research and evaluation. She currently serves on various funding and advisory boards including most recently with the American Evaluation Association. Veronica is the recipient of several industry awards. She has published in the American Journal of Evaluation, Evaluation, and the Stanford Social Innovations Review. Ms Olazabal holds a B.A. in Communications and a master’s degree in Urban Policy and Planning from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Andrea Peroni, PhD (discussant)
University of Chile and ReLAC (Red de Seguimiento, Evaluación y Sistematización de Latinoamérica y el Caribe)

Andrea is professor in public policy, social policy, planning, monitoring and evaluation at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Chile. She is also an independent consultant, on issues of planning, social policies (gender, youth, culture, employment, education, participation, etc.) and evaluation, conducting studies and evaluations for national states and at the local level as well as for multilateral organizations. She co-founded EvalChile, the national Chilean evaluation network, and sat on the ReLAC Board for the past 10 years.

Friday Plenary

Evaluation in the Public Management Ecosystem: Essence or Anomaly?

Evaluation as a function has been positioned to play different roles in organizations and across institutions. It has been presented as a key mechanism in accountability, in management improvement and learning, and as a support to policy and planning. All the while evaluation has co-existed with other review functions such as various forms of audit, improvement systems such as quality management and planning, monitoring and measurement systems such as the balanced scorecard. Evaluation has also been associated with managing for results and results based management, however the specific links to these ideas have often been somewhat unclear.

Some might say that evaluation has not found its niche.  If anything it could be argued that the function has ceded territory (budgets, time and attention) to measurement initiatives, audit and other review functions which seem louder and clearer.  Is the ecosystem speaking? In a fast paced and dynamically changing post pandemic system,  is evaluation – as originally proposed anyway – an endangered species?

This panel of experienced thought leaders will examine the questions of:

  • How does evaluation ‘fit’ into modern review and management?
  • What roles can evaluation play and what roles should it be playing?
  • How can the function best link to audit and other forms of review as well as to performance planning, monitoring and measurement?
  • What are the structural and the public management implications? (i.e., who should lead? Who should follow? How should the processes work?)

Moderator: Steve Montague, a career practitioner, lecturer, and author in the field of evaluation and performance measurement and a Fellow of the Canadian Evaluation Society.

Maria Barrados, PhD (keynote)
Partner, Barrados Consulting, Inc., formerly President of the Public Service Commission of Canada and Assistant Auditor General

Maria Barrados has a Ph.D. in sociology and is currently Executive-in-Residence at the Sprott School of Business, Carleton University. Maria started her career in the Canadian government as an evaluator, then moved to the Office of the Auditor General as a performance auditor eventually becoming an Assistant Auditor General. Her last government position was the head of the Public Service Commission of Canada. She is a member a number of boards and advisory committees and continues to pursue her interests in public service reform, governance, performance measurement and financial and human resource management.

Shelley Borys, PhD (discussant)
Director General, Evaluation, and Chief Audit Executive in the Office of Audit and Evaluation, a shared service for the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada

Shelley Borys holds a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Waterloo. Shelley is a Credentialed Evaluator, has received several awards from the Canadian Evaluation Society, and was inducted as a Fellow of the CES in 2014. Shelley worked for over 10 years as a consultant in evaluation, joining government in 2005, and led the evaluation functions at Environment Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada before joining the Public Health Agency in 2011 as the Director General of Audit and Evaluation. 

Rodney Hopson, PhD (discussant)
Professor of Evaluation and expert in  educational practice, policy and the role of race, class and culture in the evaluation of programs

Rodney Hopson, Ph.D. serves as Professor of Evaluation in the Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. Previously, he served as Professor, Division of Educational Psychology, Research Methods, and Education Policy in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University and as Hillman Distinguished Professor, Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership in the School of Education, and teaching faculty member in the Center for Interpretive and Qualitative Research and Honors College in the School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University. He received his Ph.D. from the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia with major concentrations in educational evaluation, anthropology, and policy, and sociolinguistics.