AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship

The AEA Minority Serving Institution initiative brings a cohort of faculty from MSIs together throughout the 2019-2020 academic year and into the 2020 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 2019-2020 MSI Cohort!

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Sharla Berry, California Lutheran University

Dr. Sharla Berry is an Assistant Professor at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. She received her PhD from the University of Southern California in Urban Education Policy. Her research explores teaching and learning with technology in K-20 environments. In her research in secondary education, she explores how students of color use technology to research and prepare for college. This work includes an exploration of students’ use of the Internet, mobile devices, and social media apps for post-secondary advancement. She is also the author of “Degree for Free: How to Save Time and Money on Your College Education”. This culturally-relevant text explores how underrepresented youth can navigate the higher education system. Her research in post-secondary education explores how students and faculty teach and learn with technology, specifically in online programs. Her research on this area has been published in several journals, including Online Learning, International Review of Open and Distributed Learning, and New Directions for Student Services. She is interested in evaluating institutional capacity to support online learning initiatives. 

Candace Carter, Mississippi Valley State University

Candace N. Carter is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, MS. She is also an adjunct instructor in the Adult Studies program at Belhaven University. She obtained her PhD in Social Work, Master of Public Health (MPH) with a concentration in Behavior Health Promotion and Education, and Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from Jackson State University. Candace has a combined six years of services in higher education as an adjunct, an instructor and currently as an assistant professor. She teaches primarily in the graduate social work program and is responsible for teaching Research Methods and Needs Assessment and Program Evaluation. Candace is also a member of the department’s evaluation committee and is responsible for analyzing field practicum evaluations and the department’s annual conference evaluations. 

Candace’s research is focused on teenage pregnancy, specifically, parental perception about sexual health predicting teenage pregnancy. Her other research interests include: child welfare, maternal incarceration, mental health, diversity, and public health. 

Tao Gong, University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Dr. Tao Gong is currently working as Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences Organizational Leadership program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Dr. Gong has been teaching a variety of research methodology classes at both undergraduate and graduate levels, including the evaluation of organizational policy and employee performance. Dr. Gong obtained his Ph. D. in economics from Middle Tennessee State University in 2005 with a great research interest in evaluating the effectiveness of youth educational programs and policies, such as school-to-work program, in improving youth’s job skills for the world of work. Dr. Gong’s research interest is broad covering human resources economics and management, educational program assessment and policy evaluation, and organizational leadership. He published numerous articles in these fields at peer reviewed journals. Dr. Gong has been serving as Principal Investigator, Co-Investigator or Consultant on numerous research and teaching grants including funding from the NSF, USDA\NIFA, and NOAA. 

Lorraine Graves, North Carolina Central University 

Lorraine Graves is an Assistant Professor at North Carolina Central University in Department of Social Work. She earned her PhD in Human Services with a concentration in Clinical Social Work from Walden University, Master in Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in Clinical Social Work from Boston College and a BA in Human Development from Boston College. She has 11 years of experience in academia and teaches primarily research and evaluation courses for undergraduate and graduate students in social work department. She also serves on her department's evaluation committee and provides evaluation support to community base organizations.

She has over 15 years of experience working as a clinical social worker in various community based settings. Her research and clinical interests centers on reducing mental health disparities faced by African Americans by leveraging the church and community based organizations to improve mental health access, utilization and outcomes. She currently serves as principal investigator of the Train, Respond, and Connect Early (TRACE) project, a grant funded project through Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This project provides mental health training to Boys and Girls staff and volunteers in North Carolina.

Omari Jackson, Morgan State University

Omari Jackson is Assistant Professor of Urban Educational Leadership in the School of Education and Urban Studies at Morgan State University. He also served as a faculty member in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Morgan. Additionally, he has served on the faculty at Colby-Sawyer College, Concordia University-Ann Arbor, and as adjunct at numerous colleges and universities in the Detroit metropolitan area.

He was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and is a product of the Detroit Public School system. Detroit, popularly known as “The Motor City,” was an economic powerhouse because of the automotive industry. Accordingly, many blacks were considered middle class due to their employment in the automotive industry. Omari’s father was a middle class blue collar automotive employee. As an undergraduate sociology student at The University of Michigan, he recognized he had reasonable financial privilege, but lacked many of the "middle class" social and cultural experiences of his collegiate peers whose parents attended college. As a sociology graduate student at Wayne State University, he began pondering the social forces that led him to attend college, yet many of his peers whose parents were similarly employed in the automotive industry did not attend college. Through his personal reflection, he came up with an answer: the emphasis his parents placed on college and his attendance at a magnet school that provided social and cultural capitals. Many of his peers lacked such. Though this was his personal answer, he had to find generalizable, statistically significant results.  This led to his interests in middle class blacks and urban education.

In addition to research interests, Omari has a wealth of experience working with minorities in higher education, in terms of recruitment, retention, and post-secondary success.  Furthermore, he gives talks on educational motivation, success, and persistence.  Recently he was selected to participate in a faculty leadership program in public policy at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.  This opportunity enabled him to delve more deeply into educational policy, in hopes of creating pre-college programs oriented toward middle class blacks.  With recent acceptance into the AEA MSI program, he hopes to gain a strong understanding of evaluation to create pre-college programs that can be evaluated in valid, yet culturally responsive, fashions. Too often such programs are evaluated based on factors that may not always represent the strides made.