Evaluation Team

Cari Patterson, Director of Research and Evaluation

Cari helps us reflect on our work and think about what we are learning, so we can intentionally adapt our approach and offer our best to communities. Her educational background is in community psychology, which focuses on working with communities for social change. Her passion for community development began with her love of community and her deep respect for the journeys communities share in their efforts to make their worlds healthy and strong. The heart of her formal training began in Nova Scotia, and has continued through a few decades of community development work in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta, and Nova Scotia.

Cari has a strong respect for the diverse perspectives people bring to the table, and an ability to validate and work with differing interests and needs. Cari is a Credentialed Evaluator with the Canadian Evaluation Society, and former Secretary General of the International Association for Community Development. In 2015 she was awarded Acadia University Department of Community Development’s inaugural Community Leadership Award.

Elaine Rivers

Elaine was born and raised in Nova Scotia.  After graduating from St. FX, she studied and worked in many places across Canada and the US.  She completed graduate studies in Communications Research (Boston) and Public Administration (Victoria, BC).  She worked in the private sector in New York and Montreal, and in the public sector in Ottawa, Vancouver (federal) and Victoria (provincial). 

For many years Elaine worked as an independent consultant providing evaluation services to government departments and community-based organizations across BC.  In this role she designed and implemented evaluations for a wide range of social programs, with a particular interest in those focusing on families, children and women, health issues, immigration and settlement, and employment training.

Elaine joined our team in 2018.  Her role enables her to draw on her previous evaluation experience, and grow her developmental evaluation skills.  She has strong observation skills, and an innate sense of curiosity about how people interact to bring about meaningful change. 

When Elaine returned to Nova Scotia in 2008, she settled in the Valley.  In addition to working with Turning the Tide, she attempts to grow veggies and herd two very furry cats.

Eric Leviten-Reid

Eric Leviten-Reid is a Facilitator of Community Engagement and Collaboration for New Dawn Enterprises, and our Research & Evaluation Lead for Northside Rising. He has worked as a community development researcher and practitioner for 30 years with a particular focus on collaborative approaches to complex issues. Born and raised in Cape Breton, Eric has worked both in local communities and elsewhere in Canada. Prior to coming home, he served as Learning and Evaluation Coordinator for Vibrant Communities, a national initiative exploring community-based strategies for poverty reduction. In addition to his work for New Dawn, Eric is Board Chair at Community CARES Youth Outreach. Eric lives in Sydney with his wife, two children and two cats!

Karen Pyra

Karen has been working in the health sector locally, provincially, nationally and  internationally for over 30 years in the fields of program and policy development, strategic planning, leadership and team development and evaluation. Most recently, she was the Director, Primary Health Care for the Nova Scotia Health Authority working with a team of 150 primary care providers to increase access to collaborative care in the northern zone of the province. Before that she was the Director, Policy and Communications with Doctors Nova Scotia. She has her own consulting company that she has been working in either full or part-time for 19 years, where most of her work involves evaluation, strategic planning and team development. Her evaluation experience ranges from small evaluations with a single non-profit agency to very large international multi-organization evaluations, and she is experienced in evaluation framework design, data collection and qualitative and quantitative data analysis. She is a credentialed evaluator and passionate about making evaluation meaningful for both those engaged in the process and those using the results. Karen joins the Inspiring Communities Evaluation Team one day a week supporting a number of projects and initiatives.

She lives in Shubenacadie East with her husband Jim and two greyhounds. When Karen is not at work she is often in the stable, riding her Andalusian stallion Kalimo or teaching riding lessons to students. Karen enjoys participating in a wide range of activities, and has been known to sing a tune, dance a tango, sew a dress, or volunteer to support a few causes she’s passionate about. Mostly, She is known for her love of laughter. 

Matthew Cooper

Matthew has had a passion for equality, equity and social justice from an early age and is proud to contribute to the Inspiring Communities team as an Evaluator. With a bachelor degree in English and History and a masters degree in Public History Matthew spent most of his working life teaching away from home. More recently Matthew finished an MBA in Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship from Memorial University of Newfoundland, which included an internship with Choices For Youth where he contributed to a report on how Covid-19 is and will affect youth of Newfoundland and Labrador. His current passion is poverty reduction. Matthew volunteers with local groups including the St. John’s Tool Library board of directors as vice-chair, the Beard and Moustache Club as a Merby and volunteer, and as a member of the NewfoundLUG.

Matthew is working from NFLD and providing evaluation support for a youth employment project with Choices for Youth.

Miranda Cobb

Miranda supports evaluation and learning for Inspiring Communities as a whole, WeavEast and Between the Bridges. She works closely with the teams to create a culture of reflection and adaptation through developmental evaluation and process facilitation. Miranda brings curiosity and a sense of exploration to her goal of amplifying innovation in complex systems change work. She has 15 years of experience in research, evaluation and community development including a Master’s in Political Economy and a Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation and Systems Thinking. After journeying to many parts of the world, Miranda feels most at home here in Nova Scotia and is dedicated to collective efforts that help it shine even brighter!

Sharon Alexander

Sharon has just returned home to Halifax after spending over a decade in Toronto and is looking forward to seeing what this next chapter has in store! She began her career in Toronto, first as a high school science teacher, then as a researcher in the education and health care sectors, working for a policy research centre at the University of Toronto, for several provincial program evaluations and as a researcher for an educational publisher. Thrilled to find out that those arduously-honed teaching skills are highly valuable when it comes to facilitating focus groups and presenting to varied audiences, she realized that a career in policy and program research and evaluation is one she could get behind and is pleased to be on that path!

Sharon is grateful for the opportunity to lead the evaluation of the Nova Scotia Poverty Reduction Blueprint and looks forward to learning from her inspiring colleagues, partners and research participants.