EC3 2024: Who Is Involved

Team 1

Janelle Gowgiel | Atlanta, Georgia

Janelle Gowgiel is a Public Health Analyst II with PCI Government Services and works as a federal contractor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Injury Prevention's Evaluation Team. Janelle is passionate about evaluation capacity building and has co-taught workshops at both the American Evaluation Association Conference and the AEA Summer Institute. Janelle has a B.A. in Biology and a minor in Public Health from Williams College and an MPH in Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.

Francois-Daniel Portelance | Kingston, Ontario

François-Daniel is a first-year Ph.D student enrolled at the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University. His research interests span across multiple domains, including French as a Second Language, Evaluation, Community Engagement, and Knowledge Mobilization. He has assisted in various projects, including community-based and participatory evaluations, and the facilitation of an Evaluation Capacity Building course. As a novice evaluator, François-Daniel looks forward to collaborating with experts, colleagues, and community partners to further develop his evaluation practices and thinking.

Emilia Gonzalez | Quebec

As a researcher and facilitator, Emilia has been building bridges between research and the social sector for over ten years. She is interested in participatory evaluation processes that center the perspectives of young people from diverse backgrounds. Emilia is a PhD student in Social Policy at Toronto Metropolitan University and holds an MSc in Social and Cultural Psychiatry from McGill.

Lauren Jowell | Washington, D.C.

Lauren oversees a monitoring and evaluation team in the U.S. federal government, covering a diverse portfolio including program evaluations, performance management and strategic planning. Lauren holds a MA in International Law from Georgetown University, a Graduate Certificate in Program Evaluation from Michigan State University, and a BA in Political Science from Penn State Schreyer Honors College. Lauren loves OrangeTheory, swimming, camping, traveling, reading international spy thrillers, live storytelling and improv.

Elsie Mares | Montreal, Quebec

Elsie Mares, originally from California, United States worked in Washington, D.C. as a Policy and Programs Associate with Peace Direct prior to attending Max Bell. Elsie works across the US Advocacy Team and the International Programs Team to advance Peace Direct’s partner’s advocacy priorities, develop partnerships and program proposals with local peacebuilders, and support research and policymaking around the localization agenda. In Washington D.C, Elsie is affiliated with the Herbert Scoville Peace Fellowship, Foreign Policy for America’s NextGen Initative, Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security, and is an endorsed Progressive Talent Pipeline young professional. Elsie is thrilled to pursue her passion for addressing and preventing displacement through policy and programs work toward a world without violent conflict. She is currently pursuing an MPP at Max Bell and serves as the president of PPAGS. 


Melissa Tremblay

Melissa is a member of the EC3 planning committee and an Assistant Professor in the School and Clinical Child Psychology Program at the University of Alberta Faculty of Education. She is a Registered Psychologist and Métis scholar. Melissa has worked in the field of evaluation for over ten years, and maintains a private evaluation practice. Her research and clinical background is focused on children’s mental health and working with Indigenous children and families from a strength-based perspective. Her research interests are primarily focused on exploring the development, resilience, and mental health of Indigenous children, youth, and families, as well as the use of arts-based methods with diverse populations. Melissa’s research takes a relational, community-based participatory approach and has allowed her the privilege of working in partnership with Indigenous peoples, communities, schools, and agencies across the country.

Team 2:  

Rachel Scott | Mississippi

Rachel is a senior evaluation associate at the Center for Research Evaluation at the University of Mississippi. Her focus at CERE is working with education clients to help them determine if their work is having a positive impact. She received her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction - Educational Technology at the University of Florida (2020) and previously worked as a public-school educator in Arkansas.

Gurneet Bhela | Ontario

Gurneet is an Evaluation Specialist at Greo Evidence Insights, actively engaged in creating evaluation products and supporting knowledge mobilization within the public health sector. With prior roles as a Program Evaluation Officer at the Public Health Agency of Canada and a Program Analyst at Grand Challenges Canada, she brings a wealth of experience to the evaluation space. She holds a master’s degree in Health Evaluation from the University of Waterloo and is committed to leveraging evaluation as a tool for enhancing and optimizing public health initiatives.

Kira Chontow | New Jersey

I am a current PhD student in Family Science and Human Development at Montclair State University. Through my background in public health, social work, and community health education programming the need for evaluation is ever-present. I am excited to learn more about engaging practitioners in evaluation and how to get everyone excited about the possibilities of evaluation!

Mostafa Hanafy | Illinois

Mostafa Hanafy is a third year PhD researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, with extensive experience in international education and development. He has worked with leading organizations such as UNICEF and Save the Children, where he has played a key role in promoting educational reform, digital transformation, and equitable access to education. Mostafa is also actively involved in research and evaluation, contributing to the work of the University of Illinois' Evaluation Lab. His educational background includes two master's degrees in Global Studies in Education and Project Management.

Adrita Rahman | Montreal, Quebec

Adrita is an economist with a keen interest in public policy. She is particularly interested in health and social policies. Adrita is also interested in evaluation capacity building (ECB) and wants to learn more about what effective ECB practice looks like.


Michelle Searle

Michelle is a member of the EC3 planning committee and an Assistant Professor of Educational Evaluation at Queen’s University, she holds a PhD in curriculum with a focus on assessment and evaluation. She has received the Credentialed Evaluator (CE) designation from the Canadian Evaluation Society and is also a member of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT). Her research focuses on increasing the usefulness of program evaluation through collaborative evaluation approaches and innovative forms of knowledge generation/dissemination that enhance capacity within individuals and organizations. As a researcher and evaluator, she is guided by two decades of experiences as an educator in international and local contexts. Most recently, she developed and delivered courses educators at Western University and Queen’s University. She also has experience leading learning in Colombia, Spain, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, and Canada.

Team 3:

Bethina Loiseau | Ontario

I received my master's in public health from McMaster University and I am now working as a Senior Research and Evaluation officer at Prosper Canada. I am passionate about community health and evaluation, especially in relation to vulnerable populations both within and outside of Canada.

Elaine Les | New Jersey

Elaine Les is a PhD student at Montclair State University in the Department of Family Science and Human Development and doctoral research fellow at the Institute for Research on Youth Thriving and Evaluation (RYTE). Elaine earned her MS in Education from The Johns Hopkins University School of Education in 2022 and BS in Global Health from Georgetown University in 2020. Elaine's work in evaluation is grounded in relational systems evaluation, and she is particularly passionate about strengthening evaluation capacity within inclusive, youth-serving programs.

Erika Sturgis | Michigan

Erika is a project manager for EvaluATE at The Evaluation Center-Western Michigan University. Erika has a master's in social work from the University of Michigan, where she specialized in program evaluation and applied research. Erika enjoys continuously learning new things in the field of evaluation. She is looking forward to learning how to build capacity within organizations to support and sustain evaluation practices through this evaluation capacity case challenge. Outside of work, Erika enjoys spending time with her dog, Anbu, cooking, and exploring new places within the State of Michigan, especially if she gets to go camping.

Ihsan Thaheem | Ohio

I am a passionate advocate for an equitable education system for refugees and people of color. I am a doctoral candidate and a teaching associate at Ohio University in the Educational Leadership and Public Policy Affairs Interdisciplinary PhD Program. My research focuses on the policy process, organizational change, and educational leadership for equity and justice.


Isabelle Bourgeois

Isabelle is a member of the EC3 planning committee and an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa, where she received her Ph.D in measurement and evaluation. Her previous roles include an appointment as Associate Professor at the École nationale d’administration publique (ENAP) and more than ten years spent as an evaluation manager in the Canadian federal government. Her ongoing research work focuses on measuring and building organizational evaluation capacity (EC) in the public and community sectors as well as studying the use of evidence in educational decision-making. Her main contributions to scholarship in these fields include the development of an organizational framework of evaluation capacity as well as an online organizational EC assessment instrument. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the LaboEval, a laboratory engaged in the study of EC in community-based organizations. Isabelle was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation from 2017 to 2022. In 2017, she received the Karl-Boudreault Award for Leadership in Evaluation from the National Capital Chapter of the Canadian Evaluation Society and in 2021, she received the Parenteau Award for best French-language article in Canadian Public Administration.

Team 4:

Serena McDiarmid | Ontario

Serena is a dedicated researcher, educator, and leader with 8+ years of experience in academia and the education field. Serena brings to her team expertise in human behaviour, with years spent researching the experiences of children and youth in school and community contexts, and a passion for building capacity among her students and clients. Outside of work, Serena loves to travel and explore nature with her partner and two children.

Onyinyechukwu Onwuka du Bruyn | North Carolina

Onyinyechukwu Onwuka du Bruyn is a dedicated researcher currently in her final semester of her doctoral program in Educational Research Methods and Statistics with a focus in Program Evaluation at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Her research interests’ centers on employing culturally responsive approach to evaluation and utilizing the social justice lens in conducting evaluation in marginalized and under-represented communities, thereby increasing access and promoting the representation of historically marginalized and underrepresented groups particularly within the education and health sectors. She brings to her Evaluation Case Challenge team, a toolkit of skills—technical, interpersonal, collaborative and reflective practice, which she believes will not only complement the collective effort of her team but will enhance her team’s capacity to deliver insightful solutions to the case challenge.

Andrea Vernola | Kalamazoo, Michigan

Andrea Vernola is a dedicated librarian with 20 years of programming, leadership, and strategy experience in public libraries. Vernola is in her third year of the Interdisciplinary PhD in Evaluation program at Western Michigan University. Her learning focus is on evidence-based librarianship, program evaluation, and evaluation capacity building in public libraries. She holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Heather Gillich | Minneapolis, Minnesota

Heather is an evaluation professional using design thinking in creating community-sourced solutions to complex social problems. She is currently applying her skills as a Sr. Project Manager of Oversight and Evaluation for the City of Minneapolis, a PhD student in Evaluation Studies at the University of Minnesota, and in teaching undergraduate students in Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development. She holds a Master's in Public Policy from the University of Missouri and a Bachelor's in Psychology from Hood College.

Sta Kuzviwanza

Sta is a Zimbabwean-Canadian interested in the intersections of technology, economic development in Africa, media and public policy. She attended McGill University where she studied African Studies and Economics. After graduating, Sta interned at the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit where she focused on international policy and trade. Most recently, she worked in public policy development at Airbnb Canada.


Rebecca Gokiert

Rebecca is a member of the EC3 planning committee and is a Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. She is the Associate Director of the Community University Partnership of the Study of Children, Youth and Families (CUP), and Director of the Evaluation Capacity Network (ECN) an interdisciplinary network of academics, students, not for profit organizations, and funders across Canada focused on building evaluation capacity in the field of early childhood development. Rebecca mentors research staff and students in conducting community-based research and evaluation projects, community consultation, and disseminating knowledge about early childhood research and measurement. Rebecca's work is aimed at being responsive to the early childhood communities research and evaluation needs by providing access to educational opportunities and resources. She works in collaboration with early childhood stakeholders, immigrant, refugee and First Nation communities. Rebecca is also a Registered Psychologist within the Province of Alberta with a focus on school-based assessment and intervention. Rebecca's current teaching and research focuses on community engagement, participatory research, partnership development and sustainability and evaluation.


Leslie FierroLeslie Fierro

Leslie is the lead of the EC3 and the Sydney Duder Professor of Program Evaluation at McGill University’s Max Bell School of Public Policy. She holds a PhD in Evaluation and Applied Research Methods from Claremont Graduate University and a Master’s in Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Loma Linda University. Leslie has had a range of experiences both as an evaluation practitioner and scholar. She has worked in the public sector (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, International Development Research Centre), the private sector (Deloitte Consulting LLP), and academia (Claremont Graduate University, McGill University). She currently serves as the Co Editor-in-Chief of New Directions for Evaluation, the Associate Editor of English language articles for the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, and is a member of the American Evaluation Associations’ Evaluation Policy Task Force. Her research interests relate to creating robust ecosystems for effective evaluation within nations, building organizational evaluation capacity, and developing and implementing evaluation policies that promote high-quality, equitable evaluation practice.

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