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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 42-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 894 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.

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.

Larry L. Yates, Principal Program Evaluator

Larry joined the Program Evaluation Division in March 2008. He is the lead for the Division's North Carolina Accountability Report initiative, and he led an evaluation of the state’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Larry has over 35 years of experience in progressive leadership positions with the United States Air Force and commercial entities. As a private consultant, he provided guidance and evaluation of process re-engineering, outsourcing strategies, compliance with international quality programs and standards, and government contract management to government and commercial organizations. He is an ISO 9001-2000 Quality Management System Lead Assessor and was Calibration Accreditation Manager for ACLASS Accreditation Services. Larry was the Senior Technical Advisor for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the implementation of the USAID Metrology Accreditation Standardization-Quality (MAS-Q) initiative in Uzbekistan. He also evaluated quality initiatives in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Larry is a retired Colonel with the US Air Force where he held multiple commands and was chief logistician for advanced concept programs. He received a M.S. in Human Resources Management from Golden State University and a B.S. in Aerospace from the University of Tulsa.

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

Kiernan joined the Program Evaluation Division in November 2007. Since then, 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).

Current Projects – Measurability Assessment (Project Lead).

Chuck Hefren, Principal Program Evaluator

Chuck joined the Program Evaluation Division in May 2013. Since joining PED, he has been the lead evaluator on examinations of the Medicaid Program Integrity Section, contracted services, DPI operations, and occupational licensing agencies. Prior to joining PED, Chuck had already spent over 15 years conducting program evaluations and performance audits of state programs. Previously, Chuck served as a Performance Audit Supervisor with the North Carolina Office of the State Auditor. Chuck also worked as the Internal Audit Director of the Florida Department of Financial Services and as the Internal Audit Administrator with the Florida Department of Revenue. In addition, Chuck worked with the Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) for eight years. Chuck also spent five years conducting compliance audits of lending institutions participating in the Federal Student Loan Program. Prior to his auditing work, Chuck served as the Weapons Officer on a U.S. naval combatant and as a defense systems acquisition consultant for foreign governments. Chuck received his M.B.A. from Case Western Reserve University and his B.S. from the United States Naval Academy.

Current Projects – Review of DOT's Ferry Division (Project Lead).

Sean Hamel, Principal Program Evaluator

Sean joined the Program Evaluation Division in June of 2008. Since then, he has led evaluations of 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 – Education Funding Dispute Resolution (Project Lead).

James D. Horne, Principal Program Evaluator

Jim joined the Program Evaluation Division in January 2012. He was the lead evaluator on the North Carolina Railroad Company project as well as the evaluation of North Carolina'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 – State Lottery (Project Lead), Professional Educator Licensure Process.

Sara Nienow, Senior Program Evaluator

Sara joined the Program Evaluation Division in May 2013. She served as lead evaluator for the community college funding, alcohol tax earmark, and economic development tiers system projects. 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 – School Nurses (Project Lead), Management of Inmate Health Care.

Brent Lucas, Ph.D., Program Evaluator II

Brent joined the Program Evaluation Division in May 2013. He served as lead evaluator on projects evaluating spans of control and organizational layers in state government executive offices 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 – Management of Inmate Health Care (Project Lead), Education Funding Dispute Resolution.

Josh Love, Publications Coordinator/Program Evaluator II

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

Emily joined the Program Evaluation Division in May 2016. 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 – Professional Educator Licensure Process (Project Lead), State Lottery, School Nurses.

Pat Madej, Program Evaluator

Pat joined the Program Evaluation Division in May 2016. Prior to joining PED, he completed graduate internships with the Town of Cary’s Public Works Department and the Town of Chapel Hill’s Town Manager’s Office. During this period he also worked as a Research Assistant at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government, co-presenting on evaluations of local government initiatives at regional and national public administration conferences. Before moving to North Carolina, he worked for two years as Binghamton University’s AmeriCorps Youth Engagement Coordinator and spent much of his time assisting at a local TV news affiliate. Pat received an M.P.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government and a B.A. in English from Binghamton University.

Current Projects – Review of DOT's Ferry Division.

Justin Davis, Program Evaluator

Justin joined the Program Evaluation Division in May 2017. Prior to joining PED, he worked for the North Carolina Department of Justice’s Medicaid Investigations Division as an analyst from 2015 to 2017. From 2005 to 2015, he worked with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Governor’s Crime Commission, where he served in various roles. For eight of his years with the Commission, he served as a research associate analyzing criminal justice policies and evaluating Commission-funded law enforcement, courts, corrections, victims’ services, and juvenile justice programs. Justin received a B.S. in Criminology from North Carolina State University and is expected to complete his M.P.A. at North Carolina State University in December 2017.

Current Projects – Professional Educator Licensure Process.

Adora Thayer, Program Evaluator

Adora joined the Program Evaluation Division in May 2017. 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 – Management of Inmate Health Care

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.

Janice Hillanbrand, UNC School of Government Intern

Janice joined the Program Evaluation Division for an internship in May 2016. Her work experience includes other internships prior to her stint with PED, including one with the Town of Lillington’s Managers Office. Currently, Janice is pursuing her M.P.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government. She previously earned a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in Public Administration from Campbell University as well as an A.A. from Davidson County Community College.

Program Evaluation Division, North Carolina General Assembly
Legislative Office Building, Suite 100
300 North Salisbury Street , Raleigh, NC 27603-5925
919-301-1404