Melanie Hwalek

Melanie is Chief Executive Officer of SPEC Associates. She specializes in the practical application of evaluation methods to bring understanding and motivate improvement in social service programs and policy development. Melanie holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Applied Social Psychology from Wayne State University. She has more than 30 years of experience directing evaluations for SPEC Associates on a wide range of topics including early childhood and youth development, community-based long term care, higher education, inter-organizational collaboration and online learning communities. Melanie also provides training and technical assistance on the topics of program evaluation and outcome measurement. Melanie is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and a faculty member of the Program Evaluation M.A. Program at Michigan State University. She is one of only seven professionals selected by the United Way of America for its original pool of national outcome measurement consultants. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of the American Evaluation Association and of the Michigan Association for Evaluation, and holds a Credentialed Evaluator Designation from the Canadian Evaluation Society.

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Victoria Straub

Victoria is Chief Operating Officer at SPEC Associates. She specializes in process improvement, quality assurance, and evaluation systems design and management. Victoria is a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt from the American Society for Quality. She holds an M.A. in Sociology from Wayne State University (WSU), a B.S. in Management Systems from GMI Engineering and Management Institute and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Service Agency Administration from WSU. Victoria has over 15 years of experience in evaluation project management for local and national studies. Her work encompasses evaluation and process improvement, including project management, quality monitoring/validation, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, report writing, and presentations.  She is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Michigan Association for Evaluation, the Board of Directors of the Michigan Association for Healthcare Quality and the Finance Committee of the American Evaluation Association.

Affiliated Consultants

Juliane Blazevski, Ph.D.  

Juliane's expertise is in the areas of advanced statistical analyses (e.g., HLM, IRT, SEM, MANOVA) and research design (e.g., QED and RCT) with content area emphasis on academic achievement, school climate, student motivation, positive youth development, and 21st century skills development.  She holds a PhD in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan and received her teacher certification through Michigan State University.  Juliane draws upon her experience as a teacher to ensure that proposed evaluation designs are both feasible and meaningful for current educators and other audiences serving youth.  Juliane has over 10 years of experience evaluating education and health and human services programs and has co-authored articles published in peer-reviewed journals including the American Journal of Community Psychology, Educational Psychologist and Journal of Public Child Welfare.

Sally L. Bond, M.A. 

Sally is a sociologist and president of The Program Evaluation Group, LLC, which was founded in 1999 and is based in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina.  Since 1989, Sally has evaluated a wide variety of education programs at the prekindergarten, elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and graduate levels.  She has also provided evaluation capacity building services to university faculty and non-profit program directors since 1997. Sally served as program chair for several Topical Interest Groups of the American Evaluation Association (including PreK-12 Education, Independent Consulting, and Theories of Evaluation) and is the founder of RTP Evaluators, a local affiliate of AEA. She holds an M.A. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Currently she is working on a doctorate in Workforce and Human Resource Education at North Carolina State University to advance her knowledge and expertise in adult learning and evaluation capacity building.

Barbara Bunker, Ph.D.

Barbara is an organizational social psychologist and expert in planned organizational change and large group interventions, authoring numerous books and publications on these topics including: Large Group Interventions: Engaging the whole system for rapid change and Innovations in Inclusion: The Purdue faculty and staff diversity story. Her work in planned organizational change span more than 40 years. She has taught and lectured on leadership and organizational development at major U.S. universities, nationally, and in several other countries. Barbara is currently Professor of Psychology Emerita at the University of Buffalo.

J. Anne Clark, Ph.D.

Anne is president and managing director of Collaborative Research Associates, an independent consulting firm that provides planning and evaluation services for educational and community-serving organizations. Anne works with an organization’s leaders and staff members to formulate and implement strategies that address specific goals and build organizational capacity. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Innovation from the University of Colorado and has 15 years of teaching and administration experience in the public and private K-12 and higher education sectors. Anne has also provided consulting services to more than 30 U.S. colleges and universities. Anne’s areas of expertise include: higher education policy and institutional management; higher education academic planning; educator professional development; online teaching and learning; and science education programming.

Brian Dates, M.A.

Brian specializes in performance, quality and outcome monitoring in human service programs. Brian holds an M.A. in Applied Developmental Psychology from Oakland University and a B.A. in Psychology from Wayne State University. Brian is the Director of Evaluation and Research at Southwest Counseling Solutions and also an Adjunct Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. He has evaluated many programs in mental health, substance abuse, juvenile justice, and corrections, with a special interest in programs serving persons who are homeless. Brian has presented and published in the areas of program fidelity, application of evidence-based practices in community settings, and development of statistics to assess inter-rater agreement. Brian is an Executive Board Member of the Michigan Association for Evaluation and is the Treasurer of the Board of Directors of SPEC Associates.

Wendy M. Limbert, Ph.D. 

Wendy specializes in applied social psychology and has over 15 years of experience in applied research and evaluation. She is trained in both qualitative and quantitative methods and uses both approaches in her evaluation practice. Wendy’s  professional interests include social and economic policy; recent projects have focused on economic development and higher education. Prior to working independently, she served as the Director of Studies and Analysis at a local policy center in Colorado Springs. Wendy has a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has co-authored numerous book chapters, journal articles, and public reports on social policy, many of which address the impact of poverty and welfare policies on disadvantaged populations.

Stephen C. Maack, Ph.D. 

Stephen is the owner of REAP Change Consultants, founded in 2002, which provides research, evaluation, academic or needs assessment, strategic planning and organizational change for higher education, K-12, non-profits, libraries and select government agencies. Stephen holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University with a specialty in Social Change. His career has spanned city planning, housing (Assistant Director of Planning, Research and Development at the Chicago Housing Authority), and academic administration in three sectors of California higher education.  Stephen favors mixed methods, quantitative and qualitative, evaluation and applied research.  He is a former officer of the California Association for Institutional Research, the Southern California Applied Anthropology Network, and 2014 Chair of the Independent Consulting TIG of the American Evaluation Association.

Sara McGirr, M.A.

Sara is a Ph.D. candidate in the Ecological-Community Psychology program at Michigan State University. She specializes in community-based research and evaluation related to the impacts of intimate partner violence and reproductive coercion on women’s reproductive and sexual health. As a graduate assistant at Michigan Public Health Institute, Sara has worked on multiple statewide evaluations of programs funded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that promote pregnancy prevention and support for pregnant and parenting adolescents. She has experience developing and implementing a variety of data collection tools, conducting qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and co-authoring evaluation and needs assessment reports. Her current professional memberships include the Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence, the Michigan Association for Evaluation, the American Evaluation Association, the Society for Community Research and Action (APA Division 27), and the Society for the Psychology of Women (APA Division 35).

Ruth A. Mohr, M. Public Health and Ph.D. 

Ruth specializes in the evaluation of interorganizational collaboration, including networking and communities of practice. She holds a Ph.D. in Health Services Organization and Policy from the University of Michigan and a M.P.H. from UCLA. Her professional interests also include system change and systems thinking (certificate in Human Systems Dynamics). She has over 20 years of experience in evaluation and research, including as Senior Research Scientist at the Michigan Public Health Institute; her work has spanned public health, medical care, higher education and special education. She has made many presentations and co-authored evaluation reports on interorganizational collaboration, networking and communities of practice. Ruth also serves on the Human System Dynamics Institute’s Network Board. 

Shannan McNair, Ed.D. 

Shannan specializes in early childhood education. She is an Associate Professor of Human Development and Child Studies at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She has taught in the Master’s and Doctoral programs for Early Childhood Education since 1994. Her expertise in teaching and research are science and mathematics for young children, gender studies, assessment of student learning in K-12 and higher education, educational program administration and program evaluation. Her experience includes classroom teaching, administration, research, development and evaluation. She developed assessment materials for classroom teachers, developed training workshops, made presentations nationally and internationally, and consulted locally and nationally on educational and evaluation projects. Shannan holds an Ed.D. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Michigan.

John A. Muffo, Ph.D. 

John specializes in assessment, including the evaluation of academic programs and learning systems. He has been active in promoting professional development among international higher education organizations for several decades and is a frequent contributor to the literature on institutional research. John holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Denver. His career includes service at the Ohio Board of Regents, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Cleveland State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. John has been a reviewer for the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools on Institutional Effectiveness. He is retired after 20 years of service from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute of the State University (Virginia Tech), the last 15 as the Director of the Academic Assessment Program.

John, C. Painter, Ph.D. 

John specializes in the application of statistical techniques to evaluating social and human service programs. He holds a Ph.D. in Research, Statistics and Evaluation from the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. His professional interests include survey research, longitudinal analysis, psychometrics, survival analysis, and qualitative analysis. He has worked on numerous projects over the years, mainly in the areas of evaluating professional training programs, understanding the experiences of families and children in the foster care system, assessing the effectiveness of family courts, understanding the predictors of employee turnover, usability testing of websites and online training systems, and analysis of knowledge test data. 

Sara Plachta Elliott, Ph.D.

Sara’s expertise is in evaluating child, youth and family programs and policies, using participatory and empowerment lens. She holds an MA and PhD in Social Policy from Brandeis University, focused on children, youth and families, as well as a Bachelor's of Social Work and an MA in Applied Sociology. She focuses on nonprofit capacity building and continuous quality improvement, by meaningfully engaging all stakeholders in the learning and evaluation process. Over 12 years, Sara's evaluation experience has spanned positive youth development, mental health services, school and community-based child and family supports, and philanthropy. She is currently the Executive Director of the Youth Development Resource Center in Detroit. Sara is also adjunct faculty at Smith College School of Social Work and is on the Board of Directors for SPEC Associates and Ruby's Rainbow, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about the abilities of individuals with Down syndrome and providing college scholarships to those "rockin' an extra chromosome."

Richard (Rick) Voorhees, Ph.D.

Rick specializes in providing resources for organizations facing challenges in the areas of student outcomes, student retention programming, knowledge management, distance education evaluation, and assessment of learning. He is principal at Voorhees Group, LLC. Rick holds a Ph.D. in Higher and Adult Education from Arizona State University. He has a wide ranging career including academic, student services, research and policy capacities at tribal colleges, suburban community colleges, inner-city colleges, rural comprehensive universities, major research universities, governing boards and at the national policy level. Rick is past president of the Association for Institutional Research, and is an active contributor to the literature on strategic planning, student finances, and evaluation of programs to increase success of low-income students and students of color.

Bob Williams, BSc (Hons)