Dec 2014 – Jan Fields
Jan grew up on the Navajo Nation. His mother served in the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and he spent his childhood surrounded by the many dogs and cats that roamed freely on the reservation (AKA the Rez). An open bedroom window, he said, was an invitation for the stray cats to join him at night in his bed! Given this atmosphere, it isn’t surprising that Jan wanted to be a veterinarian. His aunt, who had a small farm of creatures to care for, also fostered this plan.
But the older Jan opted for a different path. After serving 4 years in the United States Marine Corps, Jan headed for cloud-covered Michigan and became a clinical Respiratory Therapist. Beginning in 1988, while he was teaching at a local community college, he was assigned the internal evaluator role as part of the requirements for receiving Perkins grant money for vocational programs. Although the yearly evaluations focused narrowly on accountability, and his role was very “cookbook,” it enabled him to work with staff and students across all the college’s programs. “It was a nice job for a nosey person,” he says. The seed for his future profession was sown.
His career in higher education continued, and he earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership in 1996. His plan was to be a Dean, and evaluation was on his agenda. His connection to the Michigan Society for Respiratory Care served to push him further toward evaluation. He was asked to lead an initiative setting up licensure requirements for respiratory therapists in the state of Michigan. Jan noted that the evaluative work he did to develop a systematic and well-crafted approach to continuous professional development was his greatest success.
In 2010, after a 30 year career as a respiratory therapist teaching in the Michigan community college system, Jan retired – and began his total commitment to evaluation. He went back to Western Michigan University to get his doctorate in interdisciplinary evaluation. His dissertation focused on evaluating the implementation of the chronic care model. His advice to others is to be assertive with dissertation committees: “You are paying them. Don’t be bashful,” he said.
Jan joined CDC in October 2014, as an Evaluation Fellow with the National Asthma Program, where his array of expertise is being tapped. Among his many tasks is crafting the details of a performance measurement system for state asthma programs. He hopes to continue building his skills in measurement and eventually be an independent consultant. Jan sees the future of evaluation headed towards more evaluation capacity building. “It is important for anyone, in any walk of life,” he said “to use systematic inquiry.”
Like any true Renaissance man, Jan crosses many professional bounds. He is a licensed Massage Therapist; served on the faculty at Churo Secondary School in Kenya; has been a Deacon and Elder of his church, and is an ordained minister (contact him for his availability for your wedding)! And you can tell from his text (above), a career in writing may very well be in his future.
Link to this page: http://atl-eval.org/?p=911