AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Aug/16

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Labor Day Week: Stan Capela on Honoring Michael Quinn Patton

This is part of a two-week series honoring our living evaluation pioneers in conjunction with Labor Day in the USA (September 5).

My name is Stan Capela and the Vice President for Quality Management and Corporate Compliance Officer for HeartShare Human Services of New York.

Why I chose to honor this evaluator: 

I am honoring Michael Q. Patton because he defines what it means to be a mentor. A mentor is someone who tries to help you break into your field. MQP was there to help me early on in my career when I was still an inexperienced evaluator. At the time, I couldn’t understand why no one wanted to deal with me and why evaluation was intimidating to my colleagues. To address this issue, MQP suggested a book entitled Utilization Focused Evaluation. He said it would offer some suggestions on how to overcome resistance to evaluation and help stakeholders understand its value. With this new approach, stakeholders told me how useful evaluation was to them.

A mentor is someone who inspires you to move forward no matter what. When I was President of the Society for Applied Sociology (SAS), MQP gave the keynote at my conference one month after September 11th. Everyone was canceling their conferences because no one wanted to fly. MQP did not back down. Instead, he carried on to deliver his keynote speech on the relevance of program evaluation to the field of applied sociology.

A mentor is someone who helps you to make positive strides in your career. He reads evaltalk and saw a post that I did. MQP asked if he could include it in a revised edition of Utilization Focused Evaluation. This book was my bible on program evaluation from the very beginning.

A mentor is someone who gives you feedback that helps you produce your best work. MQP took the time to review a PQI Plan that I developed for my $150 million organization. Following that, he suggested that I offer an expert lecture on it at the AEA Conference to help strengthen the field.

A mentor is someone who has made a difference in this world. MQP has devoted his life to strengthening the field and who provided me with nearly 40 years of impactful evaluation experience that makes me feel like the richest person on the face of this earth.

As my mentor, MQP helped me understand the right questions to ask and how best to provide the information in a way that helps strengthen program performance. In the end, MQP helped me become the evaluator that I am today and to better serve the children, adults and families in HeartShare’s care.

As an evaluator, he has helped me understand the importance of utilization and how to communicate the value of program evaluation in strengthening program performance.

Resources:

Michael Q. Patton Sage Publication Page

Michael Q. Patton Amazon Page

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Labor Day Week in Evaluation: Honoring Evaluation’s Living Pioneers. The contributions this week are tributes to our living evaluation pioneers who have made important contributions to our field and even positive impacts on our careers as evaluators. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

3 comments

  • Amy · August 26, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Hi Stan,

    Thank you for this very inspiring article. Gratitude and appreciation is something we don’t often get the chance to show in our busy lives. it is beneficial to all who experience it: you as the person articulating your gratefulness, MQP as the person receiving those kind words, and me as a viewer who is encouraged to keep going and be grateful for those around me who help me carry on.

    My question to you is based on your opening statement in which you said that the book MQP suggested, Utilization Focused Evaluation, “offered some suggestions on how to overcome resistance to evaluation and help stakeholders understand its value. With this new approach, stakeholders told me how useful evaluation was to them.” Can you share with me one or two key changes you made in your approach that were the most integral to increasing the usability of evaluation in your practice?
    Thanks
    Amy

    Reply

  • Kay Di Vizio · November 12, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Stan,

    This semester I have been taking a course entitled Program Inquiry and Evaluation. As part of the course we have been connecting with the evaluation community through blogs, social media and so on. For members of this professional, yet “young” community that serves an extremely difficult, yet vital role, forming a community of professionals to sharing a knowledge base, to share ideas, and to ask questions and network is vital. For my course, I have also read and listened to presentations given by Michael Q. Patton, especially around evaluation utilization. What I really enjoyed about your post was that you chose to honour, not Michael as a personal mentor, but the role of mentors in the field of evaluation. Your definition of a mentor also resonated with me: “A mentor is someone who tries to help you break into your field; someone who inspires you to move forward no matter what; someone who helps you to make positive strides in your career; and who gives you feedback that helps you produce your best work.” I am glad that you had the opportunity to learn from such a wonderful mentor and took the time to acknowledge that.
    For someone starting our in the filed of evaluation, how would you advise them to seek out a mentor? What other advice would you offer a new evaluator?

    Thanks,
    Kay

    Reply

  • Pat Christian · September 1, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    This is a great article on mentorship! Another online article that expounds on Michael Quinn Patton’s book, “Utilization Focused Evaluation” is:

    http://betterevaluation.org/plan/approach/utilization_focused_evaluation

    Reply

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