AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship

The AEA Minority Serving Institution initiative brings a cohort of faculty from MSIs together throughout the 2022-2023 academic year and into the 2023 summer to participate in webinars, the AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Workshop Series, and the AEA annual conference. The overall purpose of the initiative is to increase the participation of evaluators and academics from underrepresented groups in the profession of evaluation and in the American Evaluation Association. The MSI Faculty Initiative identifies this group of potential and practicing evaluators by drawing from faculty at MSIs. The program focuses on:

  • Broadening their understanding of evaluation as a profession; and
  • Strengthening their knowledge of evaluation theory and methods through workshops, webinars, mentoring and experiential projects.

Meet the 2021-2022 MSI Cohort!



Dorothy P. Brandon, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University

Dorothy P. Brandon, Extension Specialist at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, received her Ph.D. and MS degrees from The Ohio State University in Family and Consumer Sciences Education and her BS degree from Norfolk State University in Family and Consumer Sciences Education. She has experience teaching at the secondary (middle & high school) and postsecondary levels. She also has international teaching experience at all levels. She has taught in Botswana, Africa, and Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Brandon currently provides leadership to all Family and Finance Urban Regional Extension Agents (UREA) in Alabama. For approximately seven years, she worked with limited-resource older adults in teaching them how to use the computer and Internet. Most recently, with county UREAs, she designed and delivered a program to teach older adults how to use Zoom to prevent isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the support of a Children, Youth, and Families at Risk grant (NIFA), she works very closely with limited resource parents in teaching them various reading strategies to use in helping their children. Brandon also works with older adults in assisting them to age more successfully. She has used these programs to train hundreds of youths and adults in skills needed to improve their quality of life. She partners with various community stakeholders, university colleagues, and Extension colleagues from Auburn University (1862 LGU) and Tuskegee University (1890 LGU) to develop and deliver relevant, culturally sensitive, interdisciplinary programs.


Leandro EchtTallahassee Community College (TCC)

Leandro Echt is a professor, a researcher, and an evaluator with more than thirteen years of experience in the international development field, working with a variety of organizations. He was born in Argentina, where he lived for almost his entire life, until moving to Tallahassee, Florida, United States, in 2016. His graduate and post graduate formal education relevant to this fellowship program include a B.A. in Political Science, a Professorship degree in Political Science, an M.A. in Development Management and Policy (Georgetown University), a Diploma in Policy Evaluation (University of San Martín, Argentina), and a Specialization in Public Policies and Gender Justice (Latin American Council of Social Sciences).

After having taught at the University of Buenos Aires, one of the most prestigious universities in Latin America, Leandro now teaches National Government and Comparative Politics at the Tallahassee Community College (TCC), one of the 10 finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The TCC embraces diversity in its student body, workforce, curriculum, and community, being a space where individuals from different backgrounds can interact and not only learn from the faculty and the College’s activities, but also from each other.

His research and evaluation work in the international development field is also vast. He performs mainly in the evidence informed policy making field, which altogether aims at supporting stakeholders in the policy community inform decisions with the best available knowledge to address the most pressing challenges in their contexts. The evaluation of development initiatives nationally and internationally is a prominent area in the evidence informed policy making field, and one that has been receiving increasing attention in the past decades. Yet, challenges and huge gaps persists between existing capacities in developed and developing countries.

He has extensive experience in supporting international organizations, think tanks, networks, civil society, and governments in their efforts to evaluate their programmes, both from an accountability and a learning perspective. He has been the Coordinator of the Monitoring, Evaluation and Influence of Center for the Implementation of Public Policies promoting Equity and Growth, the most prominent think tank in his home country, where he was exposed to the challenges that developing countries’ governments face when trying to generate relevant information to inform decision making as well as institutionalize monitoring and evaluation practices and culture. He has also designed and taught a variety of training and courses in the evidence informed policy making field, especially about monitoring, evaluation and learning and on conducting policy relevant (applied) research, to a variety of stakeholders across the world. He has also supported organizations worldwide (from government agencies in Ghana, Pakistan and Uganda, to national think tanks in Latin America, and international organizations such as UNICEF) to set up and improve systems and process to improve the generation of evidence for decision making, being the organizational monitoring, evaluation and learning systems an important focus of his work.

Leandro has evaluated several multi-year and multi-country development programmes, supported by a variety of organizations. Most recently, he performed as Senior Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Officer for Rutgers International, an international center of expertise on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights based in the Netherlands. Moreover, he is a founding member of the EvaluAR Network, which gathers practitioners, academics, and policy makers interested in contributing to the institutionalization of an evaluation culture in Argentina. He also has vast experience in supporting researchers, evaluators and organizations in influencing decision making with the evidence they produce.


Negin Fouladi University of Maryland School of Public Health 

Negin Fouladi received her PhD in Health Policy and MPH in Health Services Organizations from the University of Texas School of Public Health and MS in Biological Sciences from the University of Houston- Clear Lake. 

Dr. Fouladi is Associate Clinical Professor and director of online programs (MPH-Practice and Policy, MHA, Certificate-Principles of Public health) in the Department of Health Policy and Management (HPM) at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on health systems, public health research methods, healthcare strategic planning & marketing, health policy, and global health and health policy. Dr. Fouladi also serves as academic and career development advisor and mentors scholarly and practice-based activities of online HPM students.

Dr. Fouladi has expertise in Translational Science focused on T3/T4 translation to practice and policy and has conducted US and International research assessing the performance and quality of systems through multiple initiatives. As an evaluator of the US Clinical Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program and Houston Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS), she has worked with national and regional evaluator groups to identify, develop, pilot and implement national core Common Metrics to assess quality and performance of the CTSA and impact of research on population health.

Dr. Fouladi’s individual research focuses on comparative health systems, evidence-informed decision-making, and knowledge translation and exchange (KTE). Her recent work includes development of an international virtual Health Research & Exchange collaboration platform (HREx) for the global Universitas21 network in response to persistent inequalities in research and practice highlighted by the pandemic and weaknesses of health systems around the world to improve population health. HREx emphasizes diversity, inclusivity and culturally sensitive mentorship and professional development of doctoral students and early career researchers in health services, policy, and management and was launched in June 2021 as part of the 'U21Community Learning Network' for UMD and other member institutions.


Dorothy M. Kirkman, University of Houston at Clear Lake, College of Business

Upon graduating from North Carolina State with a B.S. in Accounting Dr. Kirkman spent four years as an accountant for a Fortune 500 company. This experience laid the groundwork for her career at Carnegie Mellon University where she received an MBA, in Finance and Strategy, from the Tepper School of Business. After graduation, Dr. Kirkman embarked upon a career in Management Consulting for five years. She left consulting and returned to academia to pursue her PhD in and in 2008, Dr. Kirkman received her doctorate from Rutgers University. Her dissertation focused on technology management and innovation.

Over the past 13 years, Dr. Kirkman has been employed at the University of Houston at Clear Lake (UHCL), where she is currently an Associate Professor. She served as the Chair of the MBA Committee from 2015 – 2017. In 2017, Dr. Kirkman served on the Texas Coordinating Board, Field of Study, Business and Management Advisory Committee; Committee for Business Core Courses. During the same year, she was selected by the Leadership Houston Development Program, to become a member of its Class XXXVI cohort. In 2018, Dr. Kirkman was selected to become a Texas Administrative Leaders Academy Fellow. She consulted for UTMB – Translational Science Program where she taught technology/science management and leadership courses to translational scientists.

Over the course of her academic career, Dr. Kirkman’s writing and research has focused on technology and innovation and nonprofit organizations. The trajectory of her writing and research explores how innovative science-based companies, such as biotechnology firms, create partnerships to acquire the resources they need to survive. The other focus of her research is the similarity between nonprofit organizations and technology firms in that they are dependent on their resources for survival.

Dr. Kirkman’s interest in nonprofit organizations began during her doctoral studies, when she served as an Interim Director of a faith-based nonprofit. She enjoyed working for and supporting an organization that made a significant impact in the community. Dr. Kirkman’s goal is to move forward into the nonprofit arena, in both her research and professional activities. She is pursuing a Certificate in nonprofit management from Texas A&M.

Dr. Kirkman's intends to become proficient in evaluating logic models by developing a toolkit of evaluation knowledge and capabilities. Her goal is to use her knowledge and her toolkits to aid nonprofit organizations actualize their missions to benefit the public


Rick Sperling, St. Mary’s University

Rick Sperling’s formal academic training includes a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan (UM), an MC in counselor education from Arizona State University (ASU), and a PhD in educational psychology from the University of Texas at Austin (UT).

The path he took to evaluation is a bit circuitous starting with his introduction to service-learning at UM. He was intrigued by the emphasis they placed on social justice and community work. At ASU, he found employment in the campus service-learning office. His responsibilities included curating a course pack of multicultural readings for undergraduate students and coding their journals to determine whether they had achieved course objectives with respect to adopting a less victim-blaming perspective on social stratification. It was during this time that he began to realize that the system ASU had put in place to scaffold students toward a more socially responsible way of seeing the world was having the opposite effect.

He entered UT with the goal of earning a degree in human growth and development. However, the faculty encouraged him to pursue quantitative methods instead. Rick elected to complete the coursework for both areas while also adding courses in program evaluation and a portfolio specialization in Mexican American Studies.

In 2010, St. Mary’s University posted an ad for an associate professor who specialized in quantitative methods and Rick was fortunate enough to be hired for that job. Over the past 11 years, he has found that program evaluation lies at the intersection of quantitative methods, Mexican American Studies, and community engagement. Admittedly, he still imagines himself to be squarely within Chicano Studies, but has come to terms with the fact that relatively few students appreciate Chicano Studies as a pathway into graduate school and the job market.