Our Multi-Disciplinary Core Staff


Principal: Amy Powers, M.S.
Amy is a natural at the art and science of finding and nurturing the seeds of order in apparent chaos. Beneficiaries of this skill include an ever-expanding vegetable garden in the foothills of Vermont's Green Mountains, her three dirt- and bug-loving young boys, and many evaluation clients who now have a clearer sense of their organizational priorities and a higher capacity for conducting their own evaluations.

After earning her M.S. in Environmental Studies from Antioch University, Amy found the magic beans that grew into PEER Associates while directing program evaluation initiatives at Shelburne Farms, a Vermont-based environmental education and agricultural organization. Prior to that, she conducted research under an Environmental Protection Agency fellowship and spent over a decade developing and implementing environmental and place-based education programs for students and education professionals in Maine, Colorado, and Vermont, with brief stints in Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Liberia. Her PEER work has ranged from fueling collaborative partnerships, to advising and equipping organizations in internal evaluation techniques, to supporting PEER’s administrative and financial functions.

Amy's mindful approach to observing both external and internal realms and making sense of complexity makes her a source of useful insight for her family, PEER colleagues, and clients.



Principal: Michael Duffin, Ph.D.  

Michael commutes to work daily by ascending 25 feet up into the branches of a sturdy oak. His office, a self-made treehouse conspicuously free of right angles, is rooted in the Monadnock region of southwestern New Hampshire. This wind-buffeted perch provides a natural spot to gain perspective and inspire fresh thinking about client mission and program goals.

Michael has more than 20 years of experience as an evaluator, educator, and administrator of environmental education programs. At PEER, his work has included national research projects for the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service, evaluation of several National Science Foundation-funded projects, and a variety of evaluation and consulting projects for schools and organizations in New England, the mid-Atlantic, and around the country.

Prior to co-founding PEER Associates in 2003, Michael specialized in program evaluation and environmental sustainability at Antioch University, where he earned a Ph.D. in Leadership and Organizational Change. Immediately before starting PEER, he held the position of project director of the Program Evaluation Team in the Craiglow Center for Applied Research and Policy of Antioch New England Institute. 

Whether designing a streamlined survey, a reader-friendly report, or an aerial abode, Michael is driven by the quest for clarity amid real options, with curiosity, action, and a tape measure as his constant companions. 


Senior Associate & Finance Director: Andrew Powers, B.S.

Not everyone is an enthusiastic problem-solver, but everyone needs one. Andrew has been attracted to complex problems since he joined the Peace Corps post-college to build drinking-water systems in rural Ecuador. Then it was building boardwalks and hand-carved signs at a Colorado nature center, restoring 100-year-old Vermont duple
xes, and finally remodeling a patchwork geodesic dome perched on a Green Mountain hillside where he has finally settled down.
As one of PEER’s founding owner/partners, Andrew is almost ready to admit that he has settled on a career as well. He is currently immersed in working on evaluation projects large and small around Vermont and northern New England, collaborating with clients to help them figure out how their programs work and why. His areas of recent focus have included Farm-to-School, collaborative evaluation, Collective Impact, and exploring how to most effectively share real-time data with clients through the tubes of the interwebs. Andrew also has primary responsibility for administering PEER’s financial functions.

It turns out, Andrew is discovering, that habits of mind useful in figuring things out in the physical world come in handy when crafting highly targeted, multi-year evaluation plans.



Senior Associate: Joy Kubarek, Ph.D.


Joy has been working in the environmental and science education fields in both formal and informal settings since 2003. She has conducted scientific field research and guided others in their own authentic scientific explorations, including coaching educators in formal and informal science in their pedagogy and assessment. She holds a B.S. in Biology form the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, and an M.Ed. with a focus on environmental education from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Joy's eagerness for new challenges brought her to the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago where she earned a Ph.D. in Science Education. She established an evaluation division focused on learning and empowerment evaluation for the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL before becoming Shedd's Vice President of Learning.


She is an active member of the Association for Zoos and Aquariums, including serving as a member of the Research and Technology Committee, advisor to the Conservation Education Committee, and advisor to the Zoo and Aquarium Focused Interest Group of the Visitor Studies Association. Joy was the Science Learning in Informal Contexts strand coordinator for the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, and a member of the Informal Science Education committee for the National Science Teachers Association. She has presented on the topics of informal science education, teacher professional development, and evaluation capacity building at national and international conferences. Mixing her love of travel with her passion for evaluation is just like Joy!


Research Associate: Qing Ren, M.S.

Qing started her career in environmental education in 2008. She helps practitioners use data to understand the effectiveness of their programs and develop communication materials through interpretive writing and graphic design. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin and works with environmental and conservation projects in cross-cultural settings in both the U.S. and China.


She holds a B.A. in animation art from China Communication University and a M.S. in environmental interpretation and education from SUNY - College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Qing is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Natural Resources at the University of Vermont.



Consulting
 Associate: Rachel Becker-Klein, Ph.D.





Don’t be surprised when working with Rachel if she keeps drawing your attention to the importance
of context and the
relationships between individuals and the communities in which they are embedde
d. Her
curiosity about the world around her drew her to formal training at NYU in development
al and community psychology. There s
he discovered the world of program evaluation, where her focus on systems thinking and empowerment have found a comfortable home.

Rachel has been working at PEER Associates since 2005. Prior, she taught Human Development as well as Research and Evaluation as adjunct faculty at Antioch University New England. Currently, she teaches both Community Psychology and Qualitative Research at Union Institute and University. At PEER, Rachel has been involved in evaluation and research projects related to place-based and STEM education, citizen science, conflict resolution, and gender equality. She has focused on creating embedded and authentic assessment tools and toolkits that organizations can use to build their internal evaluation capacity and become learning organizations.

Rachel moved south several years back and now staffs PEER’s “metro desk” from her Delaware-based home office where she juggles not only numerous projects, clients, consulting associates, and family meals, but the context and relationships of each.











"We are feeling very positive and energized about this project and your involvement in it."

-- Kathleen Stowell, Director
Lake Sunapee Protective Association, NH







































"This was challenging to make sense of and you were brilliant at it! I always had a feeling that there were connections happening."

-- Erica Curry,
Education and Community Outreach Coordinator,
Shelburne Farms




 

Consulting Associates

PEER project teams regularly include contracted professionals with expertise in evaluation, research, educational program design, organizational development, and communications, whose specific background brings additional value to the client. The people listed below are all current or recent PEER consultants.

 



   Al Barstow, Ph.D.,
   University of Pennsylvania
   


   Tom Marcinkowski, Ph.D.,
   Florida Institute of Technology
 


   
   Esther Cowles, M.A.,
   Fernwood Consulting  
   


   Ali Michael, Ph.D.,
   University of Pennsylvania
 
 



   Terri Fox, Ph.D.,
   Rutgers University
   

   Michael Murphy, Ed.D.,
   Mass General Hospital/
   Harvard Medical School
 



   Johnny Fraser, Ph.D.,
   NewKnowledge.org
   


   Eve Pranis, M.Ed.,
   Education Innovations
 



   Chris Hardee, M.S.T.,
   CH Communications
   

   Uma Ramiah, M.A.,
   Freelance journalist/
   Media Consultant
 



   Eric Mankowski, Ph.D.,
   Portland State University
   


   David Sobel, M.Ed.,
   Antioch University New England
 

   
   
   Dave Chase, M.Ed.
   DRC Consulting
    

.....................................................
   


   Julia Washburn, M.S.,
   Trillium Resources Group

..................................................

Additionally, Doctoral and Master's level students from Antioch University New England’s programs in Education, Environmental Studies, and Clinical Psychology occasionally support aspects of PEER's evaluation work as part of their advanced studies. These Graduate Research Assistants are supervised by Senior Associate, George Tremblay or Principal, Michael Duffin.






"[PEER] has completed
an awesome body of work from which we can learn
a great deal."

-- Ed Diden,
Cannon County Schools, Woodbury, TN
Member, Foxfire National Board of Directors