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

Jul/16

15

LAWG Week: Dana Keener Mast on Projects Based in Atlanta

Hello! My name is Dana Keener Mast. I am a senior manager at ICF International in our Atlanta office. ICF is currently working with the Healthcare Georgia Foundation to conduct a multi-year, multi-site evaluation of their childhood obesity prevention program. As part of this project, ICF provides ongoing evaluation technical assistance to four Georgia community grantees working diligently to improve policies and environments that make it easier for people to make healthier choices. My team at ICF for this project includes Carole Harris, Cathy Lesesne, Thearis Osuji, Stacey Willocks, Toni DeWeese, and Shelby Cash.

Lesson Learned: Measuring change over time in environments and policies is challenging! Many factors, other than the “intervention,” can influence environmental and policy outcomes—many of which are beyond the control of any one person or organization. Second, numerous steps typically need to occur to achieve a particular change in a policy or environment, and those steps may not be linear or stepwise.

Hot Tip: When evaluating environmental and policy outcomes, use a process that can document interim steps, progress, setbacks, and achievements that occur over time. Early in the project, we worked with each grantee to define the milestones they needed to achieve in order to reach their desired environmental and/or policy outcomes. Once every quarter, our team reviews and documents their progress on those milestones. This allows us to capture and report significant progress achieved over time, even if the ultimate outcomes don’t turn out exactly as intended. This process also helps the grantees identify challenges and struggles they need to overcome (or work around) to keep the process moving towards their goals.

I look forward to seeing you here in Atlanta this October at AEA!

While you are in Atlanta! Speaking of transformative and healthy environments, be sure to take some time to walk, run, or bike on the Atlanta Beltline while you are here. The Atlanta Beltline is touted as the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwL2E0i_kIM

We’re looking forward to October and the Evaluation 2016 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

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