Winner, Award for Contribution to Evaluation in Canada, 2016

Citation (by Shelley Borys and François Dumaine)

Over the past 30 years, Andy has been actively involved in the field of program evaluation, both as a tireless advocate for the function of evaluation, and as a significant contributor to the advancement of evaluation theory and practice.

Through numerous publications, lectures and presentations, Andy has challenged evaluators in Canada and abroad to explore new approaches that could better accommodate the need for timely and relevant information on program results. His work on Rapid Impact Evaluation, the Scenario-Based Counterfactual, and Metric For Forecasting Impacts are some of the innovative approaches that Andy has been developing and promoting. Andy also stands as a predominant evaluator engaged in the fields of environment and sustainable development, through multiple assignments in Canada and abroad. He has championed evaluation strategies that place sustainability at the very heart of evaluation’s core mission and mandate.

For all of us among the evaluation community who have had the opportunity to meet and share thoughts on evaluation with Andy, we have always appreciated his free spirit and his genuine kindness, particularly as he wears his too familiar hat of the fearless devil’s advocate. Strong professional communities grow through individuals of Andy’s calibre and we wish to celebrate his contribution.

Acceptance Speech

I was very moved by being nominated for this award, even more moved to receive it.

Recognition is important to the individuals receiving them, and for CES as an organization, for the field in Canada and more broadly.

Recognition serves as a moral incentive – something that economists used to write about – non-material incentives to stimulate and encourage contributions, here to evaluation and to the landscapes we serve.

Being recognized is an enhancement of one’s status. Too often that is the main focus.

But if I read receipt of this award as being about me I would be missing the point totally. It is about us, about what we strive to contribute usefully to – to betterment.

With its awards CES is really saying “well done, now use this to do more”. An award is not the end of the story, it is provided to stimulate and enable recipients to do more and to do better.

With the award the recipient has more status and we should use that not for personal gain and embellishment – but to continue and escalate the contributions that are recognised by the award – of service and contribution to CES, to the field, to improving.

So in accepting this award, for which I am deeply appreciative, I commit to continuing to contribute, to help, to be accessible to our community and especially newer entrants (what I call youngsters though not necessarily young in years), to writing more and writing better, to building up my story depository to share more effectively.

Of course you might have had something else in mind. Perhaps it was “if we give Andy this award maybe then he will finally go away”.

Of that there is no chance! The need for evaluation has never been greater; the need for reframing and re-invigorating evaluation has never been greater.

One of the efforts I am going to turn to is promoting the concept of the working class intellectual in the context of evaluation. In the 19th and early 20th century working class intellectuals were critically important contributors to intellectual thought and social and political change. A bricklayer who thought about and wrote and spoke about economic theory, distribution of wealth and at a very very high intellectual level grounded in and drawing from their experiences in life and as a bricklayer.

The class analog in evaluation are practitioners. Evaluation theory and methods and guidance that draw only or primarily from sources that are not grounded in the working life of evaluation cannot sufficiently serve the needs of evaluation. CES and evaluation in Canada is largely practice based. We think about and write about an evaluation that is grounded in the doing and use of evaluation, in the messy world of practice. Grounded in the rich and fertile world of practice. We practitioners need to accept a responsibility to do more to shape thinking about evaluation, about the conduct of evaluation and about evaluation use and influence.

So I read this award as a call to action for me to use it to do more, to do it better to bring insights from practice to evaluation thinking and guidance.

Thank you very very much.