This first annual conference is a graduate student-led gathering intended to connect students with evaluation experts in the Denver Metro Area. We seek to build authentic relationships between current and future evaluation practitioners through a series of sessions fostering dialogue, networking, and mentoring.

Practitioners and students of evaluation will come together to engage in problem-solving discussion. The conference will provide a shared, safe space to examine challenges and lessons learned from past and ongoing evaluations. Presenters will share original work, gather feedback from a broad audience regarding evaluation practices, and consider how best to translate evaluation theory into everyday practice. Sessions will be structured around presentations, problem-solving roundtables, skill-building sessions, student research roundtables, and reflective panel discussions. We also hope to offer a ‘state of the workforce’ panel discussion regarding the status of evaluation in Colorado, anticipated evaluation workforce needs, and preparation of aspiring evaluators to meet those needs.

Evaluating Better Together joins a growing assembly of national graduate student-led evaluation conferences, including: the Edward F. Kelly Evaluation Conference (held in Canada and upstate New York from 1990-2014), the Emergent Voices in Evaluation Conference (held in Greensboro, North Carolina, from 2017-present), and the DC Consortium Student Conference on Evaluation and Policy (SCEP, held in the District of Columbia from 2017-present).

Organized by graduate students in the Research Methods and Statistics Program at the University of Denver (DU), Evaluating Better Together is sponsored by the Organization for Program Evaluation in Colorado (OPEC) and the Research, Evaluation, and Assessment Collaboratory Hub (REACH) within DU’s Morgridge College of Education.


Please see the right-hand menu for links to the Call for Proposals and other relevant resources. Proposals will be reviewed, and presenters will be notified in late August. Conference sessions will take place on Thursday, September 27 and Friday, September 28. Registration options will be available for both days or Friday-only.

Planning & Steering Committees

Planning Committee

The co-chairs of the planning committee are advanced doctoral students from the Research Methods & Statistics Department at the University of Denver:

  • Debbie Gowensmith: Debbie is a third-year doctoral student in Research Methods and Statistics at the University of Denver, with broad interest in the role research and evaluation can play in social equity movements. Debbie also is vice-president of Groundswell Services, Inc., providing evaluation and research consultation to nonprofit organizations. She specializes in culturally responsive, participatory evaluation methods as well as evaluation of collaborative networks. Prior to returning to academia, Debbie spent almost two decades working with multicultural community groups on three continents to pursue environmental, economic, and educational goals. Her experience includes six years directing an organization that empowered Hawaiian communities to reclaim stewardship of the places where they live, work, and play.
  • Jessica Morganfield: Jessica is a doctoral candidate in the Research Methods and Statistics program at the University of Denver.  She strives to utilize statistics in a real-world application, educate others about ethical research practices, create dynamic research designs, and provide innovative program evaluation. Yes, this means she enjoys collecting data, managing large datasets, manipulating Excel spreadsheets, and writing statistical analysis reports. She is able to put her skills into practice as the Data and Targeting Manager with the Colorado Civic Engagement Roundtable, a nonprofit where she works to build data capacity and knowledge in Colorado focused voter turnout and civic engagement arenas. Additionally, for the past 2 years she has worked on research and program development with TEDxMileHigh.  She uses her education and professional background to organize data, analyze trends, and evaluate impact of events based on social media, attendee feedback and NPS.  As a Colorado Native, Jessica believes combining her field of study and the diverse organizations in Colorado will instigate thought-provoking discussion and realistic actions.
  • Megan Kauffmann: Megan is a 3rd year doctoral student in the Research Methods and Statistics Program. Her academic focus is on evaluation and qualitative research. Megan is currently a Performance Analyst within the Colorado Department of Human Services, where she facilitates a continuous quality improvement process in partnership with the Office of Behavioral Health and CDHS executive leadership. Prior to working at CDHS, Megan held evaluation roles in human services projects at the Butler Institute for Families and the federal Department of Health and Human Services.



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