Evaluation Center executive director honored with statewide evaluation award

Contact: Samantha Hooker
MAE President Jennifer Nulty-Marsack with Lori Wingate

Left to right are MAE President Jennifer Nulty-Marsack and Dr. Lori Wingate.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Michigan Association for Evaluation (MAE) awarded Dr. Lori Wingate, executive director of The Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University, the John A. Seeley Friend of Evaluation Award at its annual conference on May 10. MAE, a local affiliate group of the American Evaluation Association, gives the award annually to “an organization or individual that has made a consistent and continuing leadership contribution to the field of evaluation in Michigan.” The Evaluation Center received the award in 2014.

In announcing the award, MAE highlighted Wingate’s consistent leadership and significant contributions to the field of evaluation through scholarship, mentoring and innovative initiatives.

As executive director of The Evaluation Center, Wingate is passionate about the center’s mission to advance the theory, practice and use of evaluation.

“For most of my friends and family, my profession–evaluation–is a mystery. But when I step into a room of evaluators, whether at the state or national level, pretty much everyone has heard of The Evaluation Center and knows about Western Michigan University’s stellar reputation in the field. I feel lucky to work here and be in a position to help people learn about evaluation and use it in their organizations to improve their work and advance their missions,” she says.

Last year alone, The Evaluation Center secured more than $7 million in grants and contracts to conduct evaluations and provide training on evaluation. Reliable funding has allowed the center to provide an array of free and low-cost activities and resources to help others learn about evaluation. For example, the center hosts a popular online collection of evaluation checklists, a hybrid speaker series and an open-access journal. More information about these and other center resources are available from The Evaluation Center’s webpage.

Wingate has also helped strengthen ties between MAE and the American Evaluation Association. Wingate explains, “Every year, we host a campus visit by the AEA president. As far as I know, we’re the only university that has that tradition. As part of the AEA president’s annual visit, we set aside time and space for them to meet with MAE board members.”

Incoming MAE President, Dr. Krystin Martens, shared how unique this annual opportunity is, saying, “We understand what a truly special opportunity it is for board members of a local affiliate of a professional society to have dedicated time set aside every year to chat with the president of their national association. This kind of access is extremely valuable, and we appreciate the time and consideration Dr. Wingate has dedicated to cultivating professional evaluation relationships across Michigan and beyond.”

The MAE awards committee noted two of The Evaluation Center’s new ventures as examples of Wingate’s leadership in the field: Valeo and the Evaluation Lab. Valeo is a suite of non-academic, self-paced, online evaluation courses that Wingate co-created. The Evaluation Lab, located within the center, provides WMU students with hands-on training in program evaluation by conducting evaluations for local nonprofits. These innovative initiatives illustrate how Wingate and her colleagues The Evaluation Center live out the mission to advance evaluation.

Wingate explains, “We’re helping more people and organizations access high-quality evaluation training and services. Data and insights generated by sound evaluation provide people with critical information to improve, evolve and demonstrate impact.”

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