Dr. Christopher Spera, an experienced senior executive and applied social science researcher, policy analyst, and program evaluator, is currently the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a $1B federal agency with a multimillion dollar research, policy analysis, and program evaluation portfolio.
Dr. Spera develops and oversees the agency’s diverse research and evaluation portfolio. CNCS invests in community programs and projects that achieve outcomes in healthy futures, education, disaster services, economic opportunity, environmental stewardship, and veterans and military families. As part of his work, Dr. Spera regularly interfaces with non-profit organizations on evaluations, such as City Year, Teach for America, Minnesota Reading Corps, and Health Corps. In his senior executive-level position as the Director of Research and Evaluation for CNCS, Dr. Spera develops and oversees the agency’s diverse research and evaluation portfolio. He manages a staff of 10-12 researchers with advanced degrees, represents the agency to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the President’s Domestic Policy Council (DPC), and interfaces with research community. He is currently overseeing 15+ studies, including randomized controlled trials (RCTs), quasi-experimental studies, the development of agency performance measures, longitudinal studies, etc. Currently, he is heavily involved with leading groundbreaking studies and evaluations of CNCS’ major programs, including AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). He is also involved in conducting an annual survey to measure civic engagement through a supplement to the current population survey (CPS) administered by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dr. Spera leads a CNCS research agenda rooted in a “research-to-practice model” whereby research results are used to inform program and policy decisions, thereby infusing best practices into everyday program operations.
For the last 13 years prior to joining the leadership team at CNCS, Dr. Spera was a Vice President at ICF International, with responsibilities of managing a research group with over 30 full-time staff members and over $15M in annual research funding. Dr. Spera and the staff members he oversees have worked in a range of areas (e.g., health, education, veterans/military families, juvenile justice, substance abuse, and labor). He has been invited to speak on his research by organizations such as the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the Census Bureau, and the RAND Corporation. In 2010, he was given an award by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) for his work in evaluating an underage drinking prevention program called EUDL. Dr. Spera has a strong background in research design, including experimental, quasi-experimental, longitudinal, and cross-sectional design. He has superior skills in program evaluation, including both process and outcome oriented evaluations, and in both univariate and multivariate statistics. Dr. Spera has 20+ peer-reviewed publications and technical published reports, and holds his Ph.D. in Human Development and Educational Psychology from the University of Maryland.