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Tim Aubry

Winner, Award for Contribution to Evaluation in Canada, 2013

Citation (by Mary Kay Lamarche)

Dr. Tim Aubry was nominated by the CES National Capital Chapter and I am very happy to be introducing him.

I first met Tim around 2003 when I started to organize the student case competition because Tim was a coach of a couple of teams in the competition that year, and in fact at the final round at the conference in Vancouver, one of the teams he coached was the winning team.

And then, when talking with Shelley Borys yesterday, she mentioned that beyond his support to students in evaluation as a coach for the case competition, he is an example of why it is important for the CES to support students. It turns out that in 1991, when the conference was also in Vancouver, Tim Aubry was the winner of the student essay competition - while a graduate student at the University of Manitoba.

On a more formal side, Tim has conducted a substantial number of evaluations and published several articles in the area of program evaluation. Over the past decade, he has become one of Canada's top experts in evaluation and homelessness issues, with a particular focus on mental health. And he has lent his practical expertise to many organizations dedicated to the homeless by playing active roles in community projects.

As I mentioned, Tim has coached several teams for the CES student case competition. He is also co-founder coordinator of the University of Ottawa Graduate Diploma in Program Evaluation.

Currently, Dr. Aubry is a Full Professor in the School of Psychology, Director and Senior Researcher at the Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services at the University of Ottawa and is holder of the Faculty of Social Sciences Research Chair in Community Mental Health and Homelessness.

Tim is also a member of the National Research Team and co-lead of the Moncton site in the multi-site mental health and homelessness demonstration project of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and Co-Principal Investigator of the Housing and Health in Transition Study.

As you can see, over the course of his career, Tim has collaborated on research projects with community organizations and government at all levels, contributing to the development of effective social programs and policies while also teaching graduate courses at the University of Ottawa in community psychology and evaluation. And has consistently supported the capacity building of future generations of evaluators through is ongoing support to the student case competition.

Without further do, I would like to congratulate Dr. Tim Aubry on receiving this award for his great contribution to evaluation in Canada.

Acceptance speech

Thank you for this very nice award. I must say I was surprised when I got the call from Larry Bremner last month informing me about it. I am honoured and humbled by it. I guess the award means that I am now officially an "old-timer".

It's actually 30 years ago this past winter that I took my first course in Program Evaluation while studying clinical psychology at the University of Manitoba. Now I know I am dating myself but this was well before Program Logic Models, Mixed Methods, and Utilization-Focused Evaluation had become common parlance among program evaluators. The textbook was the 2nd Edition of Rossi & Freeman which still sits on my bookshelf along several more recent editions of the book.

As a graduate student specializing in clinical and community psychology, it dawned on me after taking the course and completing my first evaluation that program evaluation had the potential to have a much greater impact as an intervention to transform lives particularly for marginalized populations than any clinical work that I would do.

I became a faculty member in the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa in 1992 and program evaluation methods have been central to the research that I have conducted in the areas of community mental health and homelessness. From this vantage point, I have witnessed a significant shift in the receptivity to program evaluation in the community.

In the 1980s and 1990s, as a researcher who conducted program evaluation you had to convince community agencies to collaborate with you on a project. Today, more community organizations than we can accommodate seek us out through our research centre, the Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services, to work with them on the evaluation of their programs. They are also invested in developing the internal capacity to conduct their own evaluations.

Other evidence of the growth and increasing importance of program evaluation more generally are the number of graduate students seeking training in the area. In the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa where I am housed, the courses in program evaluation went from having a handful of students in the early days of my career to being over-subscribed today. Because of the increasing demand for program evaluation training in the both the public sector and not-for-profit sector, a number of universities across the country including the U. of Ottawa have developed graduate diploma programs in program evaluation.

I also see other signs suggesting that the best days for program evaluation are just around the corner – most notably the ascendance of evidence-based interventions and programs in health and social services, the possibilities in applying computer-based technology to performance measurement efforts, and the increasing expectation for researchers to engage in knowledge mobilization communicating the implications of their work for program and policy development. Program evaluation methods and processes play a central role in all of these areas.

Let me finish by thanking Simon Roy from Goss Gilroy in Ottawa for nominating me. Simon has been an important contributor over the last number of years as a course instructor to the Diploma Program in PE at the University of Ottawa. I also want to thank Brad Cousins, my good colleague, research collaborator, and the resident guru in evaluation at the University of Ottawa, and Celine Pinsent, who also works at the University of Ottawa, for supporting my nomination for this award.

I also want to thank Bob Flynn, someone with whom I have had the pleasure of working closely on numerous program evaluation projects since the start of my academic career as well as the many students who have contributed to my research through theses, practicum and internship placements, and research assistantships. Finally, I want to thank the Canadian Evaluation Society for its support and many contributions to academics like myself. This has included providing a place to publish program evaluation work through the CJPE, facilitating training and employment opportunities for students through chapter events in Ottawa, the National Case Competition, and this conference, and lobbying to increase the visibility, credibility and utility of program evaluation research.

Now I guess with the receipt of this award, I now will have to become credentialed! Thank you again for this meaningful award.