CAPD History

The Center for Assessment and Policy Development (CAPD) was established in 1988 as a non-profit organization by Wendy Wolf, Bernard McMullan and Sally Leiderman. Sally Leiderman and Sam Stephens are the current senior leaders.

The organization was founded to improve outcomes for children, families and neighborhoods by helping to build the capacity of institutions, systems, communities, intermediary organizations and foundations that do the day to day work on their behalf. For more than 25 years, we have partnered with these groups to assess the progress, quality and effectiveness of their work; to plan, design and implement system, community change and related initiatives; and to create websites, ‘think pieces’ and other resources to share lessons and tools based on our experience and expertise.

CAPD’s original focus was on work that improves children, adolescent and family health, well-being and school success. With national and regional foundations, we helped to craft and implement major children’s initiatives at the national, state and local levels. We also evaluated a number of family support, school-readiness and school reform initiatives. Over time, our work expanded to include design, planning and/or evaluation support to myriad comprehensive community building, leadership, anti-racism and campus/community partnership initiatives. We also continue to design, implement and/or evaluate efforts aimed at improving child and adolescent health, well-being and school success.

The groups with which we work and our colleagues in the field have been generous in allowing us to learn a great deal about the trade-offs, tensions and challenges of our collective work. They have also provided opportunities for us to expand our thinking and skills around, for example, the use of theory of change evaluations; ways to engage various constituencies in difficult system and community change efforts; and story-telling as a valuable method for data collection and for making meaning of information and other traditional and non-traditional approaches to our work. In large part because of this breadth of experience, CAPD staff is regularly asked to advise foundations, governments, provider organizations and community groups on best practices in evaluation, implementation of major change efforts (planning, collaboration, governance, leadership development) and use of data to guide decision-making.

In addition, many of our partners have helped us understand the role that white privilege and racism play in the outcomes experienced by children and families of color, particularly in the communities, reservations and neighborhoods that are often the places where we work. In the past ten years, we have put more and more focus on doing our work through a lens that acknowledges and seeks explicitly to reduce the effects of white privilege and racism. Most recently, CAPD has contributed some resources to help others who are also working in this way, including Evaluation Tools for Racial Equity and Flipping the Script – White Privilege and Community Building, both with MP Associates, Inc.