At its May 4 meeting, the CES Board of Directors has confirmed Dr. Harry Cummings as 2016-2018 CES President. Welcome, Harry! All CES members look forward to seeing you in action!
A long time member of the CES and advocate of evaluation, Harry offers the following in summarizing his candidacy: "I am prepared to lead and serve the organization. I will carefully steward the organization to sustain its successes and simultaneously take advantage of opportunities for the promotion of evaluation in diverse settings in Canada. I believe my academic roots, my private sector experience and my university role as a researcher and educator emphasizing evaluation will serve CES well."
Harry Cummings, Presentation Letter
It would be an honour to serve CES as president. I believe that my qualifications, work experience and commitment to the profession make me a strong candidate. The management of CES activities is an important role for the President. Working in partnership with the Board and Executive Director, I would endeavour to ensure that the organization continues to run smoothly.
First, I would like to present what I see as the five priorities for CES.
Future Priorities for CES
- I would build on what has been accomplished. I firmly believe in learning from the past and building for the future. I would see myself as an ambassador for the profession; to Government, NGOs, related associations and other professional organizations. We have a strong role to play with governments and NGOs and I would continue to promote that. Our Chapters are well placed across the country to carry out this mandate. As President of Canada’s national evaluation organization, I would promote the value in evaluation and the role CES can play via its national presence. This means adding to and diversifying the membership.
- The CE program has my absolute support. The CE designation has attracted attention internationally and many other evaluation organizations would like to learn from us. The recent evaluation provides an evidence base from which to learn.
- I believe that we should continue to strengthen our command of the methods evaluators use. This includes both qualitative and quantitative methods as well as the evaluation designs that guide us in our choice of methods. Where possible, I would like to see our national conferences have stronger methods sessions to support evaluators in their work and build their professional capacities. This would include methods for participatory evaluation and promoting culturally appropriate designs.
- I have extensive experience in International Development. I would like to invite our International NGOs and other organizations to join CES and participate in events. Our recent Montreal conference was an example of how exciting this can be. CES has been very active, in fact an international leader, with a representation on IOCE Executive and on the Management Team of EvalPartners. I would be well placed to support our continued leadership in this area.
- The joint American/Canadian Evaluation Conferences were of great benefit in the past. They have been dropped for a variety of reasons but I would like to see them reinstated.
Philosophy of Evaluation
Before outlining my qualifications for CES President, let me speak briefly to my philosophy of evaluation. I see evaluation as the careful and systematic assembly of evidence regarding a program, its implementation and results achieved. Evaluation is designed to improve programmes and related endeavours and to gather evidence of outcomes achieved. I often speak of evaluation as applied research. This requires a command of research design as well as a variety of quantitative and qualitative data collection tools and analytical methods. Results can only be achieved by monitoring progress and assessing outcomes, either intended or unintended. Program evaluation is a test of program logic or theory of change. The hypothesis is that the programme activities, in their theoretical context, will produce the desired outcomes. We monitor and evaluate the programme and then make appropriate adjustments to achieve the optimum results. Much of our work is in the form of recommendations to others; therefore, we need to be more “developmental” in our evaluations, bringing lessons from the evaluations to funders and program managers.
My PHD in Geography has served as a strong background for my planning and evaluation work. In its social science base, it allowed me to develop leadership skills that have transferred into the rest of my career.
During my professional years in Ottawa, I became certified as bilingual. I have continued to use French in the ensuing years while working in Quebec, as well as in my work in several French speaking African countries.
I am a Registered Professional Planner. I am in the process of applying for my Credentialed Evaluator designation.
Leadership and Work Experience
I have taken on leadership roles from early in my life. I have served as scout leader, president of a synagogue, Board member in the Guelph International Resources Centre, President of Canadian Association for Studies in International Development, Director of the Sulawesi Regional Development Project, and Board member for CES Ontario.
I currently manage Harry Cummings and Associates with 4 full time employees, working on planning and evaluation activities around the world. This involves soliciting business, directing 20-25 assignments per year, keeping them on time and on budget, managing personnel, and assuring that all payments and reports are on time and accurate.
I was Graduate Coordinator for the Masters in Rural Planning and Development (University of Guelph) for 12 years. This involved student recruitment, managing student admissions, running committee meetings and keeping the program on track.
While my role at the University of Guelph provides me with an excellent opportunity to work with a group of young people with a passion for evaluation, I am resigning this position in 2016.This will allow my full attention to be devoted to CES.
At one time in my career I worked for the Federal Government in Ottawa and Edmonton. This combination of my private sector and public sector experience, and my academic links, help to connect me with the profession. The management experience is an asset I can bring to bear on CES.
Evaluation Organizations in Canada and Abroad
I have been active in CES circles for many years. I have attended most CES national Conferences in the past 20 years where I have been honoured to present papers as well as run workshops. I served on the Board of the Ontario chapter of CES for 6 years as Membership Chair, Professional Development Coordinator, and Treasurer. I received the Canadian Evaluation Society Award for Contribution to Evaluation in Canada in 2000. I have been a regular presenter in CES workshops on Essential Skills and Program Logic. I am the lead author in the redesign of the CES course on Program Logic. I recently presented a CES webinar on Cross Cultural and International Evaluation. I have served on the Scientific Review Panel for papers for the St. John’s conference.
I have been a strong supporter of the CES Student Case Competition. I have had teams in the competition for many years (3 teams in 2016). My teams have won the competition 3 times.
I have been active in the European Evaluation Society over the last 6 years having presented papers and conducted workshops in Prague, Helsinki and most recently in Dublin.
I am prepared to lead and serve the organization. I will carefully steward the organization to sustain its successes and simultaneously take advantage of opportunities for the promotion of evaluation in diverse settings in Canada. I believe my academic roots, my private sector experience and my university role as a researcher and educator emphasizing evaluation will serve CES well.