Who is the Credentialed Evaluator (CE)?
Birgitta Larsson is the Principal of BIM Larsson and Associates in Edmonton, AB and has been consulting in the area of human services for 30 years. She specializes in program evaluation, community development, and capacity building.
Birgitta has an academic background in community development and health services focusing on community-based rehabilitation (M.Sc. 1983, University of Saskatchewan; BSPE/Kinesiology 1979, University of Saskatchewan, CACE, University of Alberta 2010). She is a Credentialed Evaluator (2012) and is a member of CES Alberta & Northwest Territories Chapter. She is the Past-Chair of the AB-NWT Chapter, an instructor of the CES Essential Skills Series, and a past Board member of the Canadian Evaluation Society Educational Fund (CESEF). Recently she assisted with the revision of the CES Credentialed Evaluator competencies and is currently a member of the Ethical Guidelines Working Group.
What was the initial situation?
Birgitta’s interest in program evaluation began during her graduate program where she became passionate about the use of systematic, theory driven evaluation to assess program outcomes and through this process understand the value and worth for the people involved. She initially worked for the provincial government but left to focus on full-time evaluation and eventually to start her own company. Currently she collaborates with a group of other independent evaluators to complete a variety of human service projects.
Why did the CE want the credential?
At the beginning of her career, Birgitta worked closely with credentialed health service providers. She realized the importance of having clearly articulated core competencies and understanding their meaning in day-to-day activities. As her evaluation practice and experience grew, she saw the benefits evaluators would have of defining and agreeing on core competencies. When CES first offered the Professional Designation Program (PDP) to members, Birgitta obtained her Credentialed Evaluator designation.
What was/is the relationship of the credential to the CE’s work?
Birgitta works almost exclusively in program evaluation. One of the key benefits of applying and obtaining her CE was that it required her to reflect on her knowledge, strengths, and weaknesses in a meaningful and intentional way. She believes that the competencies are the tool that evaluators should re-visit on a regular basis. A CE should ask, “how am I living up to these competencies?”
Birgitta sees more and more provincial and municipal Requests for Proposals (RFPs) whereby the supplier asks for at least the lead evaluator to have a CE designation.
Birgitta does not remember the initial PDP application as being an onerous process. She did ask a fellow CE some questions, but she did not require a mentoring relationship. She had to prioritize her time to ensure she carefully captured evidence of her competence; she feels the competencies are in-depth and address the complexities that are found in program evaluation. She felt the theoretical and technical knowledge, skills, and experience, were quite straight forward. However, the domains that assess the evaluator’s ability to maneuver in specific context and build trusting relationships required more in-depth assessment and genuine reflection.
The maintenance program has been particularly useful in assisting her with the analysis of her strengths and weaknesses. This analysis guides her professional development. She attends evaluation conferences (CES, American Evaluation Association [AEA], European Evaluation Society [EES]) and provincial chapter events. She also accesses on-line professional development opportunities. Birgitta and three of her colleagues have created a learning circle. They meet at least four times a year with one individual recommending the topic and readings and also leads the discussion. This has been most successful.
Birgitta feels the hours required to maintain the credential are very reasonable and are comparable to other professions.
Birgitta was recommended as being a CES success story. She is an experienced, credentialed evaluator who works mainly in the areas of process and outcome evaluation. She is particularly concerned about “how evaluations impact people.” She is intrigued with principle-focused evaluation.
Birgitta focuses not only on the domains and competencies of program evaluation but how they link together. She talks about the “art and science” of evaluation. The “art” of evaluation ties into values and ethics.
Birgitta says "I keep coming back to ethics. We as evaluators work with people and their data all of the time. We need to protect all of it - protect the individual, their information and their integrity".