On Thursday, April 24, APPAM and Abt Associates is hosting a day-long Institutional Member Forum at the University Club in downtown Washington, DC. Social Experiments in Practice: The Why, When, Where, and How of Experimental Design and Analysis will explore how recent methodological advances can address real-world realities in the United States and abroad. “At a time when governments are looking for strategies to identify promising social programs for broad-scale rollout and seeking to invest dollars wisely, this forum will explore how experimental evaluations can provide program administrators and policymakers with reliable evidence on program effectiveness,” says Laura Peck, Principal Scientist in the Social and Economic Policy Division at Abt Associates.
“This forum is for anyone who wants to learn more about the frontier of experimental evaluation and how recent methodological advances are addressing real-world realities when it comes to evaluating social programs,” says Stephen Bell, a Senior Fellow and Vice President at Abt Associates.
Speaking at the afternoon session will be Larry Mead of New York University and Laura Peck and Stephen Bell from Abt Associates. The panel will be moderated by Naomi Goldstein from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Mead is Professor of Politics and Public Policy at New York University, where he teaches public policy and American government. He is also a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Wisconsin, and a visiting fellow at Princeton and at the Hoover Institution at Stanford.
Mead is an expert on the problems of poverty and welfare in the United States. Among academics, he was the principal exponent of work requirements in welfare, the approach that now dominates national policy. He has consulted with federal, state, and local governments in this country and with several countries abroad. He testifies regularly to Congress on poverty, welfare, and social policy, and he often comments on these subjects in the media. He recently served on a committee of the National Academy of Sciences to study high levels of incarceration in the United States.
Laura R. Peck, Ph.D., is a Principal Scientist at Abt Associates and has over 18 years of experience evaluating social welfare and employment policies and programs, both in research and academic settings. A policy analyst by training, Peck specializes in innovative ways to estimate program impacts in experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations, and she applies this to many social safety net programs. At Abt Associates, Peck is the PI, Co-PI and Director of Analysis for several major national evaluations for the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development.
Co-author of a public policy text-book, Peck is well-published (and cited) on program evaluation topics in respected journals such as Evaluation Review, the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, the Policy Studies Journal, and the Journal of Poverty. Peck was elected to APPAM's Policy Council (2012-2015 term) and recently completed her term as Associate Editor (2009-2013) for the American Journal of Evaluation.
Stephen Bell, Ph.D., an expert in random-assignment evaluation methods, first joined Abt Associates in 1983, then rejoined the company in 2005 as an Abt Fellow and a Principal Associate/Scientist in the Social and Economic Policy Division. From 1996 to 2005, he worked in The Urban Institute's Income and Benefits Policy Center.
Bell specializes in econometric impact evaluation of programs to assist disadvantaged workers and families. Among his projects has been the National Head Start Impact Study, a landmark evaluation of early childhood development assistance as an anti-poverty strategy, and on studies of employment strategies for people receiving disability benefits in the United States and in Britain. The Head Start research employs path-breaking impact analysis methodologies that he has developed, expanding on the basic experimental design in order to determine which program elements contribute most to impacts.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, Bell played a lead role in the National Job Training Partnership Act Study, the nation's seminal random assignment employment and training program evaluation. The results of this research helped reshape federal employment training policy and set a standard for rigorous evidence on program effectiveness in the federal government.
Naomi Goldstein is Director of the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). She is responsible for advising the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families on increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of ACF programs.
Prior to her appointment as Director of OPRE in November 2004, Ms. Goldstein served as Director of the Division of Child and Family Development in OPRE. Previously she directed the United States Postal Service Commission on A Safe and Secure Workplace, an independent commission that examined workplace violence affecting the Postal Service and the nation. She served as Project Manager for the Urban Institute’s Assessing the New Federalism project, and as Executive Officer in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at HHS. Earlier in her career, she served in the Massachusetts state government and developed infant mortality prevention programs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.