Youth Voice in Action: Tips, Strategies, and Advice from Youth Evaluators

Youth Engagement Community of Practice Webinar

In Collaboration with the American Evaluation Association Youth-Focused Evaluation Topical Interest Group 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (ET)


The American Evaluation Association Youth-Focused Evaluation Topical Interest Group and the YouthPower Learning Youth Engagement Community of Practice hosted on Wednesday, September 13th a live webinar showcasing youth voices on the topic of evaluation.
Young evaluators and their adult allies discussed the importance of engaging youth in participatory evaluation activities, such as questionnaire development, data collection, and analysis.
The panel of presenters shared insights about the positive contributions that youth voices make to research and evaluation activities, and what the youth themselves learn as a result of participating. They also shared tips and strategies for including young people in research and evaluation activities.

Please download the slides of the webinar here

See the list of speakers and bios below.

This webinar shared information regarding the following key findings, lessons learned, and recommendations:

1.   How youth voices make a difference in research and evaluation
2.   What youth learn as a result of participating in research and evaluation
3.   Youth recommended tips and strategies for including them in research and evaluation activities


Christy Olenik, YouthPower Youth Engagement Community of Practice Co-Champion

Christy OlenikIn her 25-year career, Christy has designed, implemented, and evaluated holistic youth programs for multiple donors, local governments, and private foundations in the US and internationally. As Vice President, Technical Services, she is responsible for technical leadership, service delivery, business development, and strategy around positive youth development programming. Christy also serves as Making Cents’ Project Director for the USAID-funded YouthPower: Evidence and Evaluation IDIQ. She is passionate about providing opportunities for youth success and for building the capacity of the systems around them.

Katie Richards-Schuster, American Evaluation Association Youth-Focused Evaluation Topical Interest Group

Katie Richards-SchusterKatie Richards-Schuster's research focuses on understanding the strategies and approaches for engaging young people in communities, the contexts and environments that facilitate youth engagement across settings, and the impact of youth participation in creating community change. She is a leading scholar in using participatory research and evaluation approaches with young people and communities. Her current projects involve a metropolitan youth-led assessment of social justice, a study of strategies for youth participation in educational justice, an assessment of critical youth media as a tool for social work and an exploratory study on the development of youth advisory committees in a variety of institutional and governmental settings. Katie is the Co-Champion of the American Evaluation Association Youth-Focused Topical Interest Group.

Jessica Hackbarth and Annie Smith, McCreary Centre Society, Vancouver, Canada

Jessie HackbarthJessica Hackbarth was hired by McCreary in 2016 to work alongside five other youth, as part of the Youth Research Academy (cohort 1),  in and from government care. Jessica came into the program with no experience in research; over the past year, she and her cohort were trained in research methods and public presentations. After the Youth Research Academy for her cohort ended in March 2017, she was hired on as a summer student to work with TRRUST Collective Impact and as a youth mentor for the current Youth Research Academy.                


Annie SmithAnnie Smith is the Executive Director of the McCreary Centre Society, a non-profit organization committed to improving the health of British Columbian youth through community-based research, education, and youth participation projects. Annie began her career as a psychiatric nurse in England before moving on to work with youth in conflict with the law and youth experiencing homelessness. Annie holds a Master’s degree from Harvard and is currently completing a PhD in health and well-being at Sheffield Hallam University.

Leili Lyman and Brian Villa, RYSE Youth Center, Richmond, California

Leili Lyman was raised in Richmond, CA and graduated from De Anza High School in 2016. She is currently a first year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, studying psychology. At De Anza, she participated in a Public Health Solutions internship program. It was through this program that led Leili to intern at the RYSE Center.  At RYSE, she co-conducted a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) project that looked at the mental health and coping strategies of young people of color in Richmond. After collecting and analyzing the data, Leili and a co-intern implemented a peer-led/peer-facilitated "Chat Lounge" in response to young people identifying talking to adults to be potentially more harmful than talking to their peers. Chat Lounge was one of the highest and most regularly attended programs at RYSE that season. With peripheral support from staff, the interns held discussions around institutional, interpersonal, and internalized violence and shared ways to cope/heal from trauma.

Brian Villa is currently the Community Health Program Manager at the RYSE Youth Center. His work includes coordinating RYSE's health and wellness programs including healthy sexuality, lgbtq groups, and sexual health education. Brian has also supported various radical inquiry work including RYSE's Listening Campaign: an inquiry of the experiences of trauma, violence, coping, and healing for young people of color in Richmond. He has assisted youth in multiple Youth Participatory Action Research projects, and is now co-leading RYSE's Listening to Heal Campaign; a platform for policy and systems change to create and sustain healthy school climates. Brian also studied American Studies, Education, and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Sergio Bustamante, International Republican Institute, Guatemala Program Officer for Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning at IRI´s Northern Triangle Field Office

Sergio Bustamante works on the democracy and governance portfolio very closely with local governments, academia, political parties and civil society organizations. Scholar and Mentor of the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Office (OMEL) at IRI, which seeks to reinforce and update M&E tools, capacities and methodologies abroad.