5 Questions with PAN’s Manager of Evaluation, Janice Duddy

Janice Duddy is the Manager of Evaluation with the Pacific AIDS Network – in partnership with the CIHR Centre for REACH in HIV/AIDS (REACH). Janice started working with PAN in August 2013 as the Grants and Partnership Coordinator with the CBR Program. Prior to working with PAN Janice worked with the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) as the Manager, of the PHSA’s HIV/AIDS Program and the Operations Manager of the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Hepatitis Program. She has a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University and has had a long-standing interest in evaluation, participatory community-based research, and has worked as a researcher in various capacities for/at: the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, at the Centre for Community and Child Health Research, at WISH Drop-in Society and at BCPWA (now PLBC).Janice Stonewall

We asked Janice 5 questions about her experiences and views on community-based HIV research. Janice is available to support community-based organizations with their participatory evaluation needs. If  you want to get in touch you can find her at: [email protected] or 604-558-2079.

1. What first piqued your interest in HIV research?
I think I have always been a curious sort. I loved doing Science Fair projects in elementary school and pulling out the old World Encyclopedia to answer questions (yes, this is how it was done before the internet). But I was also very moved by fairness, justice and helping others. In terms of HIV research – I had done a youth exchange in Tanzania in the late 1990s and while no one was speaking about HIV at that time in retrospect I realized that it did play a role in many people’s lives. This experience linked with all the social justice issues — for example those relating to equity, poverty, colonization and discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation — that are connected to HIV sparked a real interest in me personally which grew into a more academic undertaking when I started my Master’s degree.

2. What role do you think HIV/AIDS research plays in the “real world”?
I think that HIV/AIDS research, especially in BC, has been a very fertile ground for answering significant questions and for testing new research methods. I also really appreciate the link that has been made between HIV/AIDS and the social determinants of health and other social justice issues that directly impact people’s health and well-being. I feel that HIV/AIDS research in BC has really built strong relationships between academics, community-based organizations, people living with HIV/AIDS, and decisions-makers. This has allowed for the cultivation of new and innovative research questions and inquiries, which I think has been great for the sector.

I am also really excited about REACH’s focus on program science and participatory evaluation because I feel it is really moving the knowledge that we have gathered over the years into practice and action. It is also giving community-based organizations the tools to gather data relating to their programs to use it to more fully understand the impact their services are having in their people’s lives.

3. How is the community involved in your research?
My past work has not been primarily in the research arena but in a health authority in BC. In this arena, there has definitely been a movement towards community engagement in planning, implementing, and evaluating services. I think both the research and health sector could learn a lot from each other about how best to engage communities in their work.

In addition, as I move forward in supporting community-based organizations in evaluating their programs and services I am really excited to see how organizations are engaging with data to make programming decisions and to tell their story. Data — information or stories — are powerful tools and I think there are many creative and innovative ways to use them on a daily basis.

4. If you had unlimited funds, which areas of research would you invest in?
Being a process person I would invest in trying to figure out how to better translate research findings into practice. I am fascinated with looking at how to improve communication between researchers and decision-makers/funders. There is so much great research going on with amazing findings and I am always curious about what it would mean within the system to have all of these findings implemented. Which then feeds into my love of evaluation (I know I am a bit of a geek) – how do we measure the outcomes and impacts of these changes?

5. If you were able to choose, what is the natural talent you’d like to be gifted with and why?
A super palate – I am definitely a bit of a foodie. I love to cook, EAT, and have a bit of a cook book obsession. If you had one of those super palates you could make a living tasting ice cream, wine, heck even potato chips. Wouldn’t that be the life?