IE Week: Stan Capela on Tips from the Trenches: Building Your Brand as an Internal Evaluator

My name is Stan Capela, and I am the VP for Quality Management and the Corporate Compliance Officer for HeartShare Human Services of New York. I have devoted my entire career to being an internal evaluator in the non-profit sector since 1978.

In graduate school, you develop a wide range of skills on how to conduct program evaluation. However, there is one skill that schools don’t focus on – how an internal evaluator develops a brand that clearly shows that s/he adds value to the organizational culture.

Developing a personal brand can be a challenge, given workplace perceptions, pressures, and stresses. For example, program staff may have varying perceptions of my dual roles as an internal evaluator, which involve supporting their efforts and pointing out deficiencies. In addition, I often conduct simultaneous projects that combine formative and summative evaluations and may involve quality and performance improvement. Finally, my attention often gets split between internal reports and external reviews.

Lesson Learned: Producing quality reports that clearly are utilization-focused is important. But I’ve found that the secret ingredient to making my work valued and developing a brand within the organization is simply the ability to help answer questions related to programmatic and organization problems.

Lesson Learned:  Get to know program staff and their work.  In my early years, I found it especially helpful to spend time talking to program staff. It provided an opportunity to understand their work and the various issues that can impact a program’s ability to meet the needs of the individuals and families served. Ultimately, this helped me to communicate more effectively with staff and about programs.

Lesson Learned:  Find additional outlets to build your networks. I have had an opportunity to be a Council on Accreditation (COA) Team Leader and Peer Reviewer and have developed contacts by participating in 70 site visits throughout the US, Canada, Germany, Guam and Japan. Over the span of 34 years, I have developed a network of contacts that  have helped me respond expeditiously – sometimes through one email – when a question arises from management. As a result, I became know as a person with ways to find answers to problems.

RAD Resources:   Many of my key resources are listservs.  These include Evaltalk – a listserv of worldwide program evaluators; the Appreciative Inquiry List Serve (AILIST); and the List of Catholic Charities Agencies (CCUSA).  Other helpful affiliations include the Council on Accreditation (COA), the Canadian Evaluation Society, and the American Society for Quality.

If you have any questions, let me know by emailing me or sharing them via the comments below.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Internal Evaluators TIG Week. The contributions all week come from IE members. 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluator.

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