Who We Are
We are external evaluators, data scientists, qualitative and quantitative researchers, social workers, management consultants, and early childhood education experts. But most importantly, we are your trusted partners in continuous quality improvement.
Acorn Evaluation, Inc., or “Acorn” as it is usually called, was founded in 2013. The name comes from the many acorns and oak trees surrounding the headquarters in Poway, California, a suburb of sunny San Diego. Acorn was started because early childhood education organizations were asking for help with using their existing data for program planning and to enhance the quality of their services in response to rapidly changing requirements.
Acorn primarily focuses on partnering directly with Early Head Start/Head Start (EHS/HS) grantees and EHS/HS state and regional membership associations. Acorn provides management consulting, data science services, and training and technical assistance to support our partners in continuous quality improvement, to share their success stories, and to retain/increase their funding. Acorn works seamlessly alongside each of our partners, providing support services within the context of each organization’s unique needs and interests.
Our team is made up of experienced professionals including external evaluators, data scientists, qualitative and quantitative researchers, social workers, management consultants, and early childhood education experts.
Helping Early Childhood Education programs use data for continuous quality improvement to increase the well-being of children and families.
Stuart Jones, M.A.
Partner, Chief Executive Officer
Stuart has spent over 20 years working as a professional evaluator and management consultant, primarily focusing on organizations that serve the early childhood community. In 2013 he formed Acorn Evaluation to further the goal of providing quality evaluation and consulting services to the Head Start/Early Head Start community.
Fun Fact: Saw a baseball game in every single major league stadium in the US in one trip (26 at the time).
Greg Dixon, Ph. D.
Partner, Chief Analytics Officer
With over 20 years in higher education, Dr. Greg brings his experience as an award-winning professor and applied social scientist to the Acorn team. Dr. Greg served as an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of West Georgia; Associate Director of Analytics Services at Murphy Center for Public Service; and a quantitative methods expert in the MPA and PhD Programs at Walden University. He now serves as lead professor for the Data Literacy Credential program at NHSA Academy.
Fun Fact: One school year he was the #12 highest rated professor in the United States by the site Ratemyprof.com, despite having his courses rated as “difficult.”
Stephanie A. Tesch, M.S.W.
With nearly a decade of Head Start program experience, including several senior leadership positions, Stephanie is a strong proponent of two-generation approaches to poverty and is a passionate supporter of Early Head Start/Head Start. Stephanie is also a faculty lecturer with California State University San Marcos' Master of Social Work program.
Fun Fact: Performed at an NFL half-time show.
Kristie Brownell, M.S.W.
Kristie has experience in program evaluation including planning and implementation, development of assessment tools, data collection and analysis, report writing and presenting report findings. With a focus on building internal evaluation capacity, she has helped staff become more comfortable with their data and to use their data in a meaningful way.
Fun Fact: Is a Certified Personal Trainer.
Jolene Torres, M.S.
Jolene has been engaged in working with low-income families for almost 20 years, including 14 years working for Head Start agencies in a variety of roles- direct service provider, trainer, coach, and content lead for Mental Health, Early Head Start, and Family and Community Engagement.
Fun Fact: Has lived on 4 different continents and speaks 3 languages.
Jasmin has prior experience in programming, web development, report building, data analysis, and data visualization. She is a perpetual learner and enjoys learning new programming languages and tools to hone her technical skills. She recently completed a Data Science and Visualization program through UCSD Extension and is currently working towards a post-baccalaureate degree in Computer Science from Oregon State University.
Fun Fact: Has built her own gaming PC.
Shannon Hyde, MFT
Project Coordinator, DCA Coordinator
Shannon has over a decade of experience working with children and families in non-profit organizations. She has served in the role of Mental Health Coordinator for a Head Start/ Early Head Start Program, where her experience includes facilitating trainings for a variety of audiences on topics related to supporting the needs of children exposed to trauma, addressing challenging behaviors in the classroom, and creating systems to support EHS/HS staff mental health and wellness.
Fun Fact: In the 6th grade Shannon got 2nd place in a district-wide free throw contest…with a full cast on her right leg.