Wanda Casillas is an associate research professor with Claremont Graduate University in the Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences (DBOS). She is also the director of the MS in Evaluation & Applied Research online degree program and teaches courses on topics relating to culturally responsive evaluation, systems thinking, and quantitative methods in evaluation and applied research.
As an evaluator, Casillas uses an evaluation approach through a systems-based culturally responsive evaluation (SysCRE) framework that centers culture and context in all aspects of an evaluation ecocycle. Casillas employs SysCRE in service of an equitable and socially just society by conducting large scale health, education, and social sector evaluation projects that focus on disrupting existing inequitable social structures.
Additionally, Casillas is interested in how systems thinking in evaluation and applied research furthers our capacity to engage with and address complex research and evaluation problems. She advocates for a paradigm shift in traditional Western-based social science research methods. This is a shift away from reductionist formulations of causal relationships, and toward formulations that embrace complexity and principles of emergence.
Among her professional experiences, Casillas led a multi-state outcome evaluation of the National Science Foundation-funded Alliance for Graduate Education and the professoriate initiative. She also designed and implemented evaluations of several 4H programs for the State of New York. Additionally, she has worked on organizational evaluation, assessment, and quality improvement projects for large-scale national hospital systems. Most recently, Casillas worked in the philanthropic sector providing evaluation and strategic planning support to national foundations in the implementation of equity-focused initiatives.
Casillas is an emerging thought leader in the evaluation field and regularly teaches SysCRE workshops. She served as a member of the board for the American Evaluation Association, co-chaired the 2021 AEA Conference, and is a guest editor for the New Directions in Evaluation volume on Latino/a/x issues in evaluation. She received her PhD in human development from Cornell University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Michigan prior to working as an evaluation consultant for over 15 years.
Casillas, W. D., & Trochim, W. M. (2015). A systems approach to culturally responsive evaluation practice. Continuing the journey to reposition culture and cultural context in evaluation theory and practice, 29-48.
Gómez, R. L., Ali, A., & Casillas, W. (2014). Mentorship and the professional development of culturally responsive evaluators in the American Evaluation Association’s Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) program. In P. M. Collins & R. Hopson (Eds.), Building a new generation of culturally responsive evaluators through AEA’s Graduate Education Diversity Internship program. New Directions for Evaluation, 143, 49–66.
Casillas, W. D., Hopson, R. K., & Gomez, R. Making culturally responsive decisions in evaluation practice. In Christie, C.A. & Vo, A.T. (Eds.) Issues in Evaluation Use and Decision Making in Society. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Culturally Responsive Evaluation
Systems Thinking in Evaluation and Applied Research
Directed Research: Evaluation & Applied Research Methods and Positive Developmental Psychology