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 and continuous quality improvement to increase the well-being of children and families.
Stuart Jones, M.A.
Stuart has spent over 15 years working as a professional evaluator, 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 ECE community.
Fun Fact: Saw a baseball game in every single major league stadium in the US in one trip (26 at the time).
Stephanie A. Tesch, M.S.W.
With nearly a decade of Head Start program experience, including senior leadership positions with a large grantee, Stephanie is a strong proponent of two-generation approaches to poverty and is a passionate supporter of EHS/HS. 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.
Greg Dixon, Ph. D.
Partner, Director of Research and Analytics
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.
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.”
Kristie Pogue. 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.
Sean-Kelly Palicki. M.S.
Director of Product Development
Sean's areas of expertise include data visualization and communication. He has worked extensively with Head Start and ECE programs to transform data from crazy mess to practical insight. He is currently completing a MS in Big Data Analytics from the Birmingham City University School of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment in England.
Fun Fact: Has rock climbed throughout the U.S. and parts of Europe.
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.