Bonnie J. Walters, M.A. Ed.
After spending 30 years in public education, Bonnie Walters is founder and Executive Director of The Evaluation Center in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver. She is responsible for the oversight of all active evaluation projects as well as the administration of The Evaluation Center. Bonnie is also on the teaching faculty in the School of Education and Human Development.
A native of Colorado, Bonnie began her career in the San Luis Valley as an elementary teacher. Since that time, Bonnie has had the opportunity to view education from a variety of perspectives including six years as a classroom teacher; five years in the central office, five years as Associate Director of the Colorado Partnership for Educational Renewal, and sixteen years as a building principal at all three levels.
Bonnie has been involved in program and project evaluation in nearly all of her administrative positions. As Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Denver Public Schools, Bonnie was involved in two major initiatives–SCALE (System-wide Change for All Leaders and Educators), a grant funded by the National Science Foundation, and a Teaching American History Project, funded by the U.S. Office of Education. Bonnie worked closely with University of Wisconsin, Madison evaluators as part of her work with the SCALE grant and with an external evaluator for the Teaching American History Project.
At the Colorado Partnership for Educational Renewal, Bonnie’s work focused on many different levels of program and project evaluation. She developed criteria for selecting Partner Schools and was co-writer of six successful grant proposals. Bonnie also worked closely with a team of evaluators contracted to evaluate the Colorado Partnership. In a special program supported by the National Network for Educational Renewal, Bonnie participated as a Leadership Associate at the Institute for Educational Inquiry in Seattle; she and the Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Colorado State University conducted an inquiry project on Democratic Schooling. She also conducted partner school Site Professor evaluations for the School of Education at UCD.
Bonnie holds Degrees from Adams State College (B.A. in Psychology and Education; and M.A. Education) and a K-12 Principal’s License from the University of Denver. In addition, she has done graduate work at Colorado State University, Brigham Young University, and the University of New Hampshire. She is currently pursuing her Master Evaluator’s Certificate from The Evaluators’ Institute, George Washington University.
In her free time, Bonnie enjoys spending time outdoors along a river or stream fly fishing. Bonnie has two West Highland Terriers that provide her with live entertainment regularly. Bonnie also enjoys golfing, traveling, good books, great wine, and good friends.
Susan Connors, Ph.D.
Dr. Connors currently serves as an Associate Director and Senior Evaluator at The Evaluation Center. In this role, she currently serves as the project leader for education-focused evaluations for projects including NxtGEN (a U.S. Department of Education Teacher Quality Partnership grant to the CU-Denver School of Education and Human Development and Denver Public Schools), two National Institutes of Health grants to the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, the STEM program in Englewood Public Schools, Engaging Schools, and the CU-Denver Center for Faculty Development. She contributes to the evaluation of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grants to five communities in Colorado and other projects conducted by The Evaluation Center.
Prior to joining The Evaluation Center, Dr. Connors spent 30 years as a Teacher and Counselor in Adams 12 School District. Additionally, she served as test coordinator for national and state assessments, data analyst, and an evaluator for North Central Association. She served as a college coach for the Daniels Fund College Scholarship Program and as a mentor/trainer for other grant awardees for the National Education Association.
Dr. Connors’ goals in evaluation work are to involve participants in all steps of the evaluation process and to advance the understanding of evaluation for both program leaders and future evaluation practitioners. She is especially interested in providing credible and actionable evaluation data to leaders of programs who are working to increase the access of under-served populations to quality education and healthcare.
Dr. Connors holds degrees from Creighton University (B.A. in English and History) and the University of Colorado Denver (M.A. in Guidance & Counseling and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership).
When Susan is away from The Evaluation Center, she loves spending time with her granddaughter, planning and cooking for family celebrations, and traveling.
Jeffrey Proctor, M.B.A.
Jeff is currently a Business Manager and Evaluation Specialist with The Evaluation Center. In his current roles, Jeff provides internal support to The Evaluation Center in the areas of marketing, operations, and strategic planning. In his role as an Evaluation Specialist, Jeff provides evaluative services to a wide range of projects including the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, the University of Colorado Center for International Business Education and Research, and Goodwill Denver.
Prior to joining The Evaluation Center, Jeff worked in a wide variety of industries, including healthcare, entertainment, and retail. Most recently, he worked for one of Colorado’s largest healthcare providers where he provided logistic and marketing support.
Jeff’s evaluation interests include business, non-profit, and healthcare related projects. He enjoys quantitative data analysis, process analysis/improvement, and designing innovative methods to present evaluation findings to diverse stakeholders.
Jeff holds degrees from Colorado State University (BA in Business Administration, Concentration: Marketing) and the University of Colorado Denver (Master of Business Administration, Concentrations: Decisions Sciences and Managing for Sustainability).
When Jeff is away from the office he enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, fishing, skiing, and boating with his friends, family, and two dogs. Jeff is also an avid fan of the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies.
Tracey O’Brien, MPA
Tracey serves as a Senior Evaluator at the Evaluation Center. She is a Colorado native who over the last 20 years has led a number of initiatives to improve the evaluation strategies of human service organizations serving our most vulnerable populations.
Tracey’s work in the field of housing and homelessness spans projects such as the Statewide Point-In-Time Homeless studies; asset mapping services for persons experiencing homelessness; and research of Discriminatory Predatory Lending Practices for the Colorado Civil Rights Division. From 2009 through 2014, she was the lead in organizing the collection of Denver Metropolitan area homeless data which included participation on advisory committees, designing and field-testing survey instruments, developing training materials, planning logistics, training agency staff and volunteers, analyzing data, and the preparation and editing of reports of findings and recommendations.
Additionally, Tracey has a keen interest and extensive experience evaluating education programs. She has conducted work in the early childhood arena such as the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECE) Needs Assessment for the Piton Foundation; evaluation of early intervention programs such as Colorado Bright Beginnings, Parents as Teachers (PAT), and Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY). She has also conducted program evaluation for various K-12 initiatives such as the dropout prevention programs for the Engagement Centers and Credit Recovery programs through Denver Public Schools; online learning program for the Colorado Department of Education; and an assessment for statewide integrated ECE data system for the Head Start State Collaboration office. Recently, she completed a complex Child Care Market Rate Survey study for the Colorado Department of Human Services.
Most recently, Tracey has focused on the field of public health. She is currently leading a three-year, statewide, multi-level tobacco education and prevention program evaluation. This is a collaborative project with the Colorado School of Public Health Community Epidemiology & Program Evaluation Group (CEPEG) to assist program grantees in designing and implementing evaluation of tobacco control program activities conducted with Amendment 35 grant funding during FY2015-2018.
Jennifer Esala, Ph.D.
Dr. Esala serves as a Senior Evaluator for The Evaluation Center. She brings a decade of experience conducting evaluation and research with a focus on equity, social justice, human rights, mental health, medical systems, and evaluation capacity building. Dr. Esala’s research and evaluation work has been published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, Symbolic Interaction, Deviant Behavior, and Qualitative Sociology Review. She currently serves as a lead evaluator for the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI).
Prior to joining The Evaluation Center, Dr. Esala oversaw the evaluation of capacity building initiatives at the Center for Victims of Torture, the largest torture treatment center in the U.S. In this role, she has led multiple large scale, complex evaluations and research studies. For instance, Dr. Esala led the evaluation of a five-year, international mental health capacity building project. As a component of this project, she oversaw, supported, and published a paper based on a randomized controlled trial conducted in Cambodia that used multi-level modelling to assess the effectiveness of a culturally adapted mental health intervention. Dr. Esala also conducted evaluation and research at The OMNI Institute in Denver, The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, and as an independent evaluator.
Dr. Esala’s work has consistently focused on health and illness among vulnerable populations and in low resource contexts. She has collaborated with partners in the U.S., East Africa, Southern Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. As a sociologist, she is particularly interested in societal, cultural, and organizational factors that influence health and illness, while also carefully attending to individual and subjective experiences and expertise. As a an evaluator with deep cross-cultural experience in evaluation capacity building, Dr. Esala is also attentive to matching evaluation approaches to organizational and program needs, capacities, and aspirations.
Dr. Esala has expertise in research and evaluation design and methods. She is a mixed-methods researcher who draws on a wide range of methodological approaches in order to best answer evaluation questions. She has taught university methods courses, including a graduate-level qualitative methods course required for sociology doctoral candidates. Dr. Esala brings methodological expertise and rigor to all of her evaluation work.
Dr. Esala received her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in health and illness.
When Dr. Esala is away from The Evaluation Center, she enjoys hiking with her dogs, practicing yoga, reading novels, and spending time with her family.
Christine Velez, M.A.
Christine Velez is a Senior Evaluator with more than 23 years of experience in program evaluation. For most of her career, Christine’s work and interests have been focused on housing, education and work with vulnerable populations. She serves as the co-lead for the process evaluation of Denver’s Supportive Housing Social Impact Bond Initiative which provides supportive housing to chronically homeless individuals in our community.
Christine’s strengths lie in her depth of experience working in diverse communities and in a variety of contexts. For ten years, she was part of the team that managed and implemented the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) program for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which included providing on-site technical assistance to Indian Tribes across the US. She is currently the lead evaluator on the Environmental Stewardship of Indigenous Lands, a National Science Foundation (NSF) project which calls for culturally relevant approaches in all aspects of evaluation from communication with tribal members to data collection methods that are based in cultural traditions.
As a first generation Latina and native Spanish speaker, Christine’s work with monolingual Spanish speaking communities is invaluable to ensuring evaluation is inclusive of the Latino experience. For the span of her career, she has conducted interviews and focus groups with a range of Spanish speaking stakeholders such as child care providers, parents, the business community and elected officials. She is the lead evaluator for the NSF National Resource Hub for STEM Education at Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Christine also coordinated and worked as a translator for the U.S.-Nicaragua Housing Policy Leadership Forum. She is a member of the Colorado Translators Association and adheres to best practices in meaning-based translation.
Her areas of expertise also include designing and managing databases, synthesizing and analyzing quantitative data, geographic mapping and social network analysis. She has analyzed and mapped complex administrative data sets including U.S. Census, HUD and Colorado Department of Health and Human Services and worked as part of the team that collected and analyzed data on the State of Colorado’s Personal Responsibility and Employment Program. She has produced thematic maps that informed policy discussion for several projects including U.S. Congressional debates on Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization and collaborated with the Center on Network Science to conduct a social network analysis of the Kids Count Grantee Network for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Christine holds degrees from St. Joseph’s College (B.A. in Human Relations) and Michigan State University (M.A. in Sociology).
For Christine, downtime from the office includes playing softball eight months out of the year, practicing yoga, traveling and connecting with family and friends.
Bridget Nuechterlein, M.A.
Senior Evaluation Specialist
Bridget is currently an Evaluation Specialist with the Evaluation Center. She provides assistance with quantitative and qualitative data collection, management, and analysis for a variety of projects within the center.
Prior to joining the Evaluation Center, Bridget worked as a program evaluation specialist at the Office of Inclusion and Outreach at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The Office of Inclusion and Outreach promotes several different educational opportunities to underrepresented and underserved populations.
Bridget’s experience as a graduate student, program evaluation specialist, and business consultant, has given her the opportunity to cultivate a wide understanding of data collection methodologies, data analysis techniques, and evaluation design. She is passionate about the story behind the statistics and is particularly interested in educational and health disparities. She believes that evaluation is one of many tools that can be used to increase the effectiveness and impacts of educational programs and interventions.
Bridget holds degrees from University of Colorado Denver (M.A. in Educational Psychology, Concentration: Research and Evaluation) and Christian Brothers University (B.A., Psychology).
In her free time, Bridget enjoys everything Colorado has to offer. You can find her spending time with her family, hiking, wake-boarding, playing sports (e.g., tennis, volleyball), snowboarding, and traveling.
Peter Rumbach, M.P.A.
Senior Evaluation Specialist
Peter is a Senior Evaluation Specialist with The Evaluation Center and provides evaluation services in a variety of content areas, including public health, behavioral health, substance abuse, community health coalitions, youth engagement, and medical education. In addition to program evaluation, Peter enjoys working with clients on capacity building, training, and technical assistance. He currently leads the health partnership evaluation of Rise Above Colorado’s Constellation Model of Governance which seeks to understand the effectiveness of the organization’s local and state partnerships whose goals are to increase Positive Youth Development and decrease youth misuse of prescription drugs.
Peter believes program evaluation provides organizations an opportunity to make evidence-based decisions and strive for continual quality improvement; he enjoys being out in the community working face-to-face with clients to increase the use and understanding of evaluation. Peter is most adept at collaborating with communities to build their evaluation capacity via in-person and web-based evaluation trainings, producing user-friendly evaluation products, and finding innovative ways to promote evaluation utilization.
Prior to beginning his post-graduate studies, Peter worked for eight and a half years in the education field including, four years as an instructor and student counselor in an adult, English language school; two years as an Education volunteer with the United States Peace Corps in Thailand; and two years as a preschool teacher. In addition to his work in education, he also served as an HIV/AIDS resource volunteer with the Peace Corps. He brings this passion and experience to his work at the Evaluation Center.
In addition to the work with communities, Peter appreciates time to conduct literature reviews, collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data, and apply innovative technologies for data presentation.
He received a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado – Denver and holds a B.A. in Humanities from the University of Colorado – Boulder.
He has a keen interest in international travel and work, having been to over 15 countries outside the U.S. The next country on his list is to revisit Thailand after many years away. He also loves all the outdoor Colorado activities, including snowboarding, backpacking, and trail running.
Erica Clarke, M.A.
Senior Evaluation Specialist
Erica Clarke is a Senior Evaluation Specialist at The Evaluation Center with more than ten years of experience in evaluating hospital and health center based interventions and programs, community-based coalitions and statewide public health initiatives. She is passionate about employing a participatory approach to evaluation and values engaging stakeholders early in evaluation planning to encourage utilization of evaluation results for decision-making and program improvement.
Currently, Erica is leading a research study examining the functioning and sustainability of the community coalitions funded through the Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health Partnerships for Success Grant. Additionally, she is co-leading the needs assessment and evaluation of a collaborative project funded by the Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health project that aims to support prevention education with the end goal of reducing youth marijuana use and delaying the age that youth first use marijuana. For three years, she provided evaluation training and technical assistance to staff at local public health agencies across Colorado and led an evaluation study of the community grantees’ programs and policy work for the State Tobacco Education Prevention Partnership (STEPP).
Prior to joining The Evaluation Center in 2015, she worked for nine years evaluating hospital and health center based interventions and programs at the Center for Community Health Improvement at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. There she also gained experience working with community-based coalitions doing prevention work in the areas of underage drinking, opioid misuse and overdose and obesity. She has worked with a wide variety of stakeholders across multiple health issues.
Erica earned her Master’s Degree in Psychology in at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
When not at the office, she enjoys spending time with her family in Colorado’s beautiful landscape.
Shuyuan Tan, M.A.
Shuyuan is an Evaluation Specialist at The Evaluation Center. She provides evaluation services in quantitative and qualitative data collection, management, and analysis for a variety of projects. Specifically, Shuyuan currently works on several projects focused on education development and public health. She also provides evaluation support to the education pillar for Colorado Clinical Translational Sciences Institute (CCSTI). In that capacity, she manages the overarching database, tracks grant outcomes, and provides bibliometric analysis.
Shuyuan holds a Master of Art in Education and Human Development, concentrated in Research and Evaluation from University of Colorado Denver. Prior to CU Denver, she earned a BA in Applied Psychology from Guangxi Teachers Education University in China. She is very interested in cultural diversity and adaption, and issues that related to education.
In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, reading books, and spending time with her family.
Liz Sweitzer, M.A.
Liz Sweitzer is an Evaluation Specialist with The Evaluation Center. Her work focuses primarily on improving and supporting efforts in community engagement, equity, education, cross-cultural evaluation, and qualitative methods. She has experience conducting ethnographic research, working with vulnerable populations, and adapting research and evaluation to be culturally appropriate and salient. Liz has worked in or collaborated with partners in the Middle East, North Africa, Western Asia, and the U.S.
Liz holds a Master of Arts in Medical Anthropology from the University of Colorado Denver and a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Asheville North Carolina. Her previous research includes cultural impacts on biomedical acceptability, impacts of racial and geopolitical anxieties on performance mediums, and decision-making practices and governing structures within intentional communities. Her graduate work included program evaluation, data analysis for the American Pediatric Association, volunteering for the Harm Reduction Action Center of Denver, and serving as a Resource Specialist for United Way.
In her free time, Liz loves traveling, performance art, board games, and her parrot Dali.
Haley Sammen, M.A.
Haley worked with The Evaluation Center as a graduate assistant during her master’s degree and found evaluation to be a perfect fit for her love of using both small details and big picture thinking to ask strategic questions about education and community engagement. She is excited to be back at The Evaluation Center as an Evaluation Specialist. Currently she is working on a variety of projects assisting with data collection, analysis, visualization, and reporting.
Prior to working with The Evaluation Center, Haley had 10 years of experience working in and studying models of community engagement and education. She earned her B.A. from Evergreen State College and her M.A. from the University of Colorado – Denver. Her graduate research was on education theory and the social determinants of education. She enjoys using evaluation to connect social theory with on the ground work.
Outside of work Haley spends time with her husband and two children on their urban farm in NW Denver, as well as exploring Colorado, and visiting her hometown in the Pacific Northwest.
Evaluation Data Manager
Allyssa is an Evaluation Data Manager at The Evaluation Center. She has years of experience providing administrative support, coordinating evaluation activities, and fulfilling reporting requirements. Currently, Allyssa oversees data collection, data entry, and reporting for the State Opioid Response (SOR) project. This includes oversight and coordinating of data collection contractors, collaborating with state partners, and training on reporting requirements. Previously at TEC, Allyssa supported evaluation projects across TEC and led internal administrative operations.
Prior to joining The Evaluation Center, Allyssa worked as a youth specialist at Community Reach Center, a local mental health center. In this position, she worked directly with school-aged youth facilitating substance use prevention education classes and collecting youth data through surveys and focus groups. She brings this passion for behavioral health to her work at The Evaluation Center.
Allyssa holds a B.A. in Sociology from Regis University. A Denver native, she loves to be outdoors and explore beautiful Colorado. In her free time, Allyssa enjoys spending time with family, friends, and running with her dog, Nuke.
Graduate Student Assistant
Emily is a graduate assistant with the Evaluation Center. She assists with data collection, analysis, and management on several projects.
Emily is currently a graduate student in the Master of Medical Anthropology program at CU Denver and the Latino Public health certificate at the Anschutz Medical Campus. Her focus is on social determinants of health, specifically how immigration status, SES, ethnicity, and culture impact an individual’s health and well-being. After graduating, Emily intends to find a career path that works towards reducing health disparities among Latino populations and other marginalized communities. Prior to starting her Master’s program, Emily worked as an Operation Supervisor at a Plasma donation center and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs with a B.S. in Human Biology. After completing her undergraduate degree, Emily spent over a year in Ecuador volunteering in an indigenous community where she had previously spent a semester studying during her undergraduate degree. This experience ignited a passion for Emily to learn, understand, and one day help prevent health inequities. She also met the man who would become her husband while in Ecuador.
During her free time, Emily enjoys relaxing with her husband, dog, and cat. She also likes traveling, hiking, backpacking, and floating down beautiful mountain rivers in Colorado.