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Chair


Alumni Spotlight: Erin Mehalic BurrEvaluation, Statistics & Measurement

Erin earned a PhD in educational psychology and research with a concentration in evaluation and assessment (now known as the Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement program) in 2009. She is originally from Surry, VA and currently lives in Knoxville, TN. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Senior Evaluator & Section Manager of Assessment & Evaluation (A&E)
Scientific Assessment & Workforce Development (SAWD)
Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU)
Oak Ridge, TN

I manage the SAWD A&E team at ORAU. My team evaluates STEM education and workforce development programs for the US Department of Energy, other US government agencies, and ORAU that target K-12 students and teachers; university students and faculty; and PhD-level researchers. Our focus has been on evaluating federally funded programs at national laboratories and universities.

Awards and Accomplishments Earned as a Student
  • Lots of travel grants to attend professional conferences to give presentations. (2004-2009)
Accomplishments since Graduating

My greatest accomplishment was the opportunity to develop my own evaluation team, the Assessment and Evaluation group at ORAU. I started at ORAU in 2009 as a postdoctoral fellow in evaluation, and was hired as a full-time employee in 2011. Since then, I have grown our STEM Workforce Development (WD) evaluation portfolio to include a diverse set of approximately 30 evaluation projects. Projects in our portfolio include annual evaluations of STEM WD programs and program portfolios at national laboratories and other federal agencies, longitudinal evaluations of portfolios of STEM WD programs for national laboratories and federal agencies, external evaluations of NSF and NIH grants awarded to Principal Investigators at universities, evaluations of processes for federal agencies, and evaluations of support services at national laboratories. Now, I manage a team of 5 full-time employees that I absolutely love. I am likely to hire a few more people in the near future as business continues to grow.

Other highlighted accomplishments include:

  • One project that I am particularly proud of is the evaluation I designed and implemented for the portfolio of STEM workforce development programs at the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. This evaluation was selected as an exemplary evaluation by the STEM Education & Training Evaluation Topical Interest Group of the American Evaluation Association. Later, I have became the Chair of that Topical Interest Group and have had the opportunity to take a greater leadership role in STEM workforce development evaluation outside of ORAU.
  • This past year, in the 70th anniversary edition of the ORAU annual report, I was recognized as a thought leader in our organization.
Personal Interests

Spending time with family, going on vacations to the beach, and relaxing on my screened-in porch.

Causes I support:

  • Protecting the environment, nature conservation, and protecting wildlife – I grew up next to a state park.
  • Mental health – I have personal experience struggling with mental health and have worked hard to be successful despite my challenges. I strive to impress upon others that mental health is not something to be ashamed of or for others to judge. We need to support people with mental health challenges, because with the right support systems, they can do amazing things.
  • People with disabilities – my daughter has a rare chromosome disorder that has presented her with many challenges, yet she is the happiest little girl despite it all. She inspires me. Before I had kids and my hobbies didn’t pose a safety risk to them, I enjoyed wood carving and making jewelry.
What was a memorable experience during your time here?

I had never attended a university with a football team before – UT is quite the place to land for a first-time university football experience. Sooo much fun!

What would you tell an incoming/current student in the program/department?

Make sure you develop strong project management skills along with evaluation skills. The larger, more complex a program is, the more relevant they are to your success. Project management is very important for many evaluation positions. Even if someone else is serving in the project manager role on an evaluation you are conducting, understanding all that project management involves will make you a better team member.

Did you end up where you thought you would?

No – I thought I would have to go to Washington DC, but I got a great job doing what I love in Oak Ridge, TN.


“I see the fields of evaluation, statistics, and measurement being more important than ever and anticipate that there will continue to be plenty of job opportunities for our graduates as a result.”


“It is extremely humbling to be Chair. Blount County is well known for its level of community/citizen engagement and its capacity for collaboration and cooperation. There is so much talent and so much heart in our community. United Way of Blount County is just one example of a community organization that thrives thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who give their talents and treasure in service to others.”

As Chair, what are you looking forward to this year?

Our board recently committed to two primary agenda items for 2017: (1) our continuing support behind another successful annual campaign and (2) the implementation of a pilot initiative (CLS Club) designed to increase the engagement of young professionals who work in Blount County with United Way of Blount County. The former objective takes care of today while the latter objective supports our future.

What makes the United Way of Blount County special?

That’s easy to answer – it’s the organization mission and all of the people involved!

United Way of Blount County advances the common good by supporting programs that help kids succeed, strengthen and support families, promote self-sufficiency, improve people’s health, and protect community well-being. We strongly believe that we can accomplish more than any single group can on its own. Our mantra is LIVE UNITED!

Last year, 256 organizations and 6,183 donors contributed $2,041,000. These campaign dollars are allocated to over 40 community based programs sponsored by 28 nonprofit, partner agencies.

And then there are all the people involved in one role or another. It starts with our extraordinary staff under the leadership of Jennifer Wackerhagen. We have wonderful board and committee members who are dedicated to excellence in governance, ethics, diversity, financial accountability, and transparency. From 2012-17, United Way of Blount County has received the highest 4-star rating for exceptional transparency and accountability from Charity Navigator.

Our partner agencies are equally dedicated to the quality of specific programs and services in support of their clients’ needs. They, too, are made up of very talented and committed people.

And the list can go on . . .

How did you become involved with the organization?

I worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for 30 years. As a quasi-federal agency, TVA participated in the annual Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) which is similar to United Way. The TVA workforce was very engaged in this annual CFC campaign. As a senior manager, I felt it important to model support for the CFC so I was always personally involved.

Once I retired from TVA, it was a natural fit for me to become more involved in United Way of Blount County where I live. I made my interest known and started participating on allocation panels and the Community Impact Committee. Within a couple of years, I was invited to join the Board of Directors.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville sponsors an annual Community Chest campaign (yet another version of a United Way). I encourage faculty and staff to be engaged in this campaign and/or in their local United Way campaigns.


As the 2017 Chair, Hammon gave the closing remarks at the United Way of Blount County Annual Meeting on Friday, January 20. During this speech, she spoke of their initiative – the CLS Club.

The purpose of the CLS Club is to develop young professionals through engagement with United Way of Blount County and by connecting, leading, and serving in our community. We are using an employer-based club model. Arconic, Denso, and Clayton have committed to establishing clubs in their organizations during this pilot year.

Identified club members will participate in monthly lunch meetings throughout 2017. During these gatherings, we will orient them to United Way’s mission, partnerships, and processes for raising funds, allocating resources, and serving our community. To bring an experiential feature to their learning, each club is being allocated $5,000. They will go through their own mini process of vetting grants, allocating money, and monitoring outcomes. They will be encouraged to engage in our annual campaign in some manner of their choosing. Ultimately, we hope some of the club members will exercise more formal leadership in United Way of Blount County by participating on allocation panels, serving on committees, or joining our board.

Educational Psychology & Counseling Department
College of Education, Health & Human Sciences

535 Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996-3452
Phone: 865-974-8145 Fax: 865-974-0135