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Program Evaluation Division Staff Bios

John W. Turcotte, Director

John is a career legislative program evaluator who has now headed legislative program evaluation staffs in three states over a 40-year period. The Legislative Services Commission appointed John as the first Director of the Program Evaluation Division in June 2007 following his services as Project Manager of the NC General Assembly’s Government Performance Audit Committee in 2006. John was CEO of Turcotte Public Administration Consulting and Training, LLC (TPACT) from 2003–2007. TPACT provided training and consulting for audit and other knowledge-based staffs at all levels of government. From 1996–2003, John was Director of the Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA). From 1977–1995, John served as Director of Mississippi’s Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER). In Mississippi, Florida, and North Carolina, John and his staffs produced over 907 technical reports and program evaluations. He was the National Staff Chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures in 1994. John has also been an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Mississippi College and Millsaps College and an Instructor of American Government at Hinds Community College in Jackson, Mississippi. He began his career as a math and science teacher in Mississippi. He received a B.A. in Political Science with Highest Honors and a M.A. in Political Science and American Government from the University of Southern Mississippi. He completed additional study at Millsaps College, the Federal Executive Institute, Mississippi State Executive Development Institute, and the National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Staff Management Institute. In 1986, the Council of State Governments selected John as one of the first group of Henry Toll Fellows. Technical Specialties: Program Evaluation and Policy Analysis; Contracting and Procurement; Examination and Analysis: Public Budgeting and Finance. Policy Specialties: Measurement of Government and Non-Profit Performance Including Outputs, Outcomes, and Benchmarks: Personnel Training and Management Development; Public Administration and Government Operations: State.

Carol Shaw,  Principal Program Evaluator

Carol came to the Program Evaluation Division in August 2007 from the NC General Assembly's Fiscal Research Division, where she had worked for 24 years. In the Program Evaluation Division, she has led evaluations of the school calendar law, Medicaid eligibility determinations, Department of Insurance licensure, Douglas County (CO)'s approach to school choice, the organizational structure of Medicaid, management of state motor fleet, administration of county departments of social services, the budget and financial management of state government, and the alcohol beverage control system. In the Fiscal Research Division, she was a Principal Fiscal Analyst and Team Leader for the Health and Human Services Team, and she is an acknowledged expert on the NC Medicaid Program. Carol's policy and budgetary knowledge extends to many other departments of State government including Agriculture and Consumer Services, Commerce, Labor, Transportation, Employment Security Commission, Housing Finance Agency, Wildlife Resources Commission, State Ports Authority, and Environment and Natural Resources. With her extensive experience advising the legislature, Carol is practiced in conducting policy and program analyses. She holds a Masters of Regional Planning (1983) and B.A. in American Studies (1980), summa cum laude, both from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has served on the National Conference of State Legislatures Executive Committee.

Current Projects – Child Protection Screening, State Scholarships and Loans.

Kiernan McGorty, J.D., Ph.D., Principal Program Evaluator and General Counsel

Kiernan joined the Program Evaluation Division in November 2007. She currently leads the Division's new Measurability Assessment program and serves as General Counsel to the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee. She has led evaluations of the Board of Review, Retiree Health Benefit Fund, state-administered funds related to fire, rescue, and EMS departments, the Human Relations Commission and Civil Rights Division, DMV's oversight of license plate agencies, the state retirement system, the statewide high school graduation project requirement, and Medicaid's private duty nursing service. Prior to her work at PED, she was a Project Director at the NC Institute of Medicine, an independent, quasi-state agency that provides information on issues of relevance to the health of North Carolina's population. From 2004–2006, Kiernan was a law clerk with the Nebraska Health and Human Services System where she represented the department in administrative hearings. She received her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology (2007) and her J.D. (2006), with a concentration in healthcare law, from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She has published articles in legal, medical, and psychological journals. Kiernan graduated cum laude from Davidson College with a B.S. in psychology (2001).

Sean Hamel, Principal Program Evaluator

Sean joined the Program Evaluation Division in June of 2008. Since then, he has led evaluations of school funding dispute resolution, the allotment system for funding K-12 public education, the management of real property, the system for monitoring and preventing the abuse of prescribed controlled substances, management of the state motor fleet, the Indian Cultural Center, the Department of Transportation's Global TransPark Authority, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Underground Storage Tank Program. His previous research experience includes developing, refining, and testing the cost estimation relationships of government systems integration for the Department of Defense's Program Analysis and Evaluation Group. He served as a research affiliate for the Software Engineering Institute in support of the Dynamic Systems work group. He has worked as an instructor in two capacities: as adjunct faculty with the Center for Excellence in Public Leadership at George Washington University and as a teaching assistant of political science courses at North Carolina State University. Sean earned his Masters of Public Administration from North Carolina State University and has earned a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Tennessee.

Current Projects – State Ports Authority (Project Lead), Disaster Recovery Acts.

James D. Horne, Principal Program Evaluator

Jim joined the Program Evaluation Division in January 2012. He was the lead evaluator on projects examining the allocation of attorneys in state government, the state lottery, the North Carolina Railroad Company, and the State's child support program. Jim has 35 years of state and federal experience with performance audits. Previously, he worked at the Office of the State Auditor for 5 years and, prior to that, he worked at the Air Force Audit Agency for 30 years. Jim began his career as a marketing teacher in Greensboro. He continued teaching as an adjunct accounting instructor at Mount Olive College, Saint Leo College, and North Carolina Wesleyan College for 17 years while working for the Air Force. Jim received an AB in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a MS in Business Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Jim is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Government Financial Manager.

Current Projects – NC Innovations Waiver Services, Child Protection Screening.

Sara Nienow, Principal Program Evaluator

Sara joined the Program Evaluation Division in May 2013. She served as lead evaluator for projects addressing the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, school nurses, community college funding, the alcohol tax earmark, and the economic development tiers system. Prior to her work at PED, she was an economist with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Her work for DENR included the development of fiscal notes for rulemaking actions, program measurement, and budget formation. Prior to her work at DENR, Sara worked for six years as a policy analyst with the North Carolina Department of Commerce. In this position she evaluated tax incentive programs, analyzed the state's creative economy, and assessed the economic impact of the military and other industries. Sara received an M.S. in Agricultural and Applied Economics from Purdue University and has been designated a Certified Community Researcher (CCR) by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER).

Current Projects – Child Protection Screening (Project Lead).

Jeff Grimes, Principal Program Evaluator

Jeff joined the Program Evaluation Division in January of 2012. He has led evaluations of inpatient substance abuse treatment programs, state ownership of submerged land, and supplemental insurance benefits for state employees. In his professional career, he has served as a vice president at a community foundation, worked as a consultant to nonprofit and government organizations, and taught environmental science at a university in China. Jeff received a Master of Public Policy from Duke University and graduated cum laude from Allegheny College with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Political Science.

Current Projects – Disadvantaged Schools That Succeed (Project Lead).

Brent Lucas, Ph.D., Senior Program Evaluator

Brent joined the Program Evaluation Division in May 2013. Since joining PED, he has served as lead evaluator on projects evaluating inmate healthcare, spans of control and organizational layers in state government executive offices, the North Carolina Guaranteed Admissions Program, and overnight respite at adult day care facilities. Prior to joining PED, he was an instructor in political science at North Carolina State University, teaching courses in data analysis, public policy, public administration, and American government and politics. His prior work experience includes serving as a research assistant with the Fiscal Research Division of the North Carolina General Assembly and as a graduate assistant in Institutional Research at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Brent completed his Ph.D. in Public Administration at North Carolina State University in May 2014. Brent received an M.P.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a B.A. in Government, with a concentration in Public Administration and Policy, from Campbell University.

Current Projects – Disaster Recovery Acts (Project Lead), NC Innovations Waiver Services.

Josh Love, Publications Coordinator/Senior Program Evaluator

Josh joined the Program Evaluation Division in May 2013. Prior to joining PED, he worked for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission from 2006–2011. He also worked in the circulation department of the Athens Banner-Herald newspaper in Athens, GA from 2002–2006. For ten years he served in a variety of capacities as a freelance journalist for a number of publications, including The News and Observer, Pitchfork, Stylus Magazine, and The Village Voice. He earned an M.S. in information science from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013 and a B.A. in English from the same institution in 2002. While pursuing his master's degree, Josh served as a research assistant for the Environmental Protection Agency and also worked as a medical library intern for Rex Hospital in Raleigh.

Emily B. McCartha, Program Evaluator II

Emily joined the Program Evaluation Division in May 2016. She served as lead evaluator for the project examining Educator Preparation Programs. Prior to joining PED, she worked on a research team based out of North Carolina State University that evaluated state-level programs and conducted research on multi-level, intergovernmental interactions on Type I wildfire events. She also served as an instructor at North Carolina State University, teaching undergraduate courses in public policy and American government. She currently serves as an instructor for the online Master of Public Administration program at The University of North Carolina, teaching an evaluation and data analysis course. Prior to moving to North Carolina, Emily worked for an arts-education nonprofit organization in Austin, Texas. She received her Master of Public Affairs degree from the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin and also earned a B.A. in Urban Studies with a concentration in Government from UT-Austin. She is working to complete her PhD in Public Administration at NCSU by the fall of 2017.

Current Projects – NC Innovations Waiver Services (Project Lead), Disadvantaged Schools That Succeed.

Adora Thayer, Program Evaluator

Adora joined the Program Evaluation Division in May 2017. She served as lead evaluator for the project evaluating the State's erosion and stormwater control program. Prior to joining PED, she completed a local government management internship and earned eight years of work experience in bankruptcy law and the federal court system. She received an M.P.A. with a concentration in Public Policy from UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government, during which time she served as a research assistant focused on strategic human capital initiatives and professional leadership development. She also earned a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in History from the University of South Carolina-Aiken.

Current Projects – State Scholarships and Loans (Project Lead).

Joanne Brosh, Program Evaluator

Joanne joined the Program Evaluation Division in January 2018. Prior to joining PED, she was employed as a Research Associate with the North Carolina Partnership for Children, a Program Specialist in Evaluation at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture - USDA, and a Research Associate at Virginia Tech. In her previous positions, she supported the evaluations of various federal and state-level programs. She received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Social Psychology from the University of Nevada-Reno, and a B.S. in Psychology from Ursinus College.

Jacob Ford, Program Evaluator

Jacob joined the Program Evaluation Division in July 2018. Prior to joining PED, he worked as a statistician and research analyst with a team of education policy specialists in Washington, DC. His primary fields of work included education and labor policy, economic impact studies, and statistical modeling. He received an M.P.P. from Georgetown University, during his pursuit of which he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Georgetown Public Policy Review and served in the inaugural class of Baker Innovators. Additionally, he earned a B.S. in Mathematics from Allegheny College.

Current Projects – Disaster Recovery Acts, State Scholarships and Loans, State Ports Authority.

Sidney Thomas, J.D., M.P.A, Research Assistant

Sidney joined the Program Evaluation Division in October 2017. Prior to joining PED, she practiced as a volunteer district attorney in Orange County’s District Attorney’s Office and earned six years of legal experience in several offices handling criminal cases and estates and wills. She received her J.D. and M.P.A. from North Carolina Central. During that time, she served as research assistant for the Public Administration department's chair, focusing on program accreditation and improving the curriculum for dual-degree students. From 2015 to 2017 she served as a state Senate intern. Sidney also earned a B.A. in Political Science with minors in Criminal Justice and Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Current Projects – Child Protection Screening, State Ports Authority.

Doris Gilbert, Program Evaluation Technician and Administrative Assistant

Doris joined the Program Evaluation Division in June 2007. Prior to her work at PED, she was the Office Manager for the NC Progress Board for six years. Doris worked for state government starting in 1964, retiring in 1995. For 17 years, she worked for NC State University in various departments. Her work at NC Public Television in Development involved all aspects of fundraising where she was the Manager of the Development Fundraising Division. Doris returned to state government in 1983 with the Department of Administration, Secretary’s Office and later, in 1995, retired from the Office of the State Controller. Since her retirement, she has continued to work part-time.

Program Evaluation Division, North Carolina General Assembly
Legislative Office Building, Suite 100
300 North Salisbury Street , Raleigh, NC 27603-5925