Week 1, Part 3: What does Kristin Everett know about evaluation use?


My name is Kristin Everett. I met Wendy in 2011 when a client told me about a great evaluator she was working with on another project and that I needed to meet her. I emailed Wendy, introduced myself, and invited her out to lunch. We quickly found that we have the same philosophies about evaluation; especially around it being useful.

I have worked in the evaluation field since 2002, when I worked at an evaluation center as an undergraduate student entering data from teacher surveys into large databases. I started doing more work for the center, including data analysis, database development, conducting interviews, and report writing. I received a bachelors degree in elementary education from Western Michigan University and taught kindergarten for three years, but continued to work in program evaluation during the summers. A whole new world was opening up to me: I realized I was able to impact education and students in a capacity outside of being a classroom teacher.

I started working full-time in educational program evaluation in 2007. Along the way, I earned a masters degree and PhD in Evaluation, Measurement, and Research from WMU, as well as a certificate in nonprofit leadership.

I love that evaluation allows me to help people: I collect and analyze data to answer questions they have; I help people improve their programs through the use of data and evaluation; and, through the data I collect and analysis I provide, I can help programs obtain funding to continue their work. If evaluations are not used, then none of these results can happen. Being passionate about evaluation use is a natural outcome of being passionate about evaluation work and evaluative thinking.

I enjoy making evaluations practical and usable for clients. I enjoy listening to the client’s needs and then developing a strategy and an evaluation plan to answer their questions and solve their problems. Because of the diversity of the types of projects I have been a part of, I am able to bring new perspectives to clients.

USEFUL TIP: You can create change in a system in many different ways. One professional goal of mine has always been to positively impact the lives of students. I went to college and taught elementary school as a way to achieve that goal. Later, I realized that I could have an impact on youth in ways other than as a teacher. Look around and see the possibilities.