Bill Leon, Ph.D., President
Bill has 40 years of experience as a researcher and evaluation consultant. He is founder and president of Geo Education & Research. With three degrees in geography and 35 years of experience as a community developer, he has worked on numerous educational, environmental, social, and economic studies with community, government, foundation, Tribal, and nonprofit clients. He has managed projects involving evaluation research, social science research, community building, and citizen participation in numerous fields including results-based management, education planning and management, educational reform efforts, environmental management, environmental advocacy, natural hazard mitigation, community design, economic development, planning, social services, and social research.
Bill has conducted evaluations, trainings and coaching for the United Nations,The International Criminal Court, Wilburforce Foundation, the Brainerd Foundation, Washington’s Department of Health and Office of Crime Victims Advocacy, Communities in Schools in Alaska, Tacoma Housing Authority, Pierce County Alliance, Shorecrest High School and numerous non-profit organizations engaged in a variety of community education and social change arenas (e.g., the Pacific Science Center, New York Hall of Science, Seattle Public Library, Sno-Isle Libraries, a nationwide consortium of zoos and aquariums, Treehouse (a non-profit serving youth in foster care), National Safe Place (bringing services to runaway and homeless youth) and Southwest Youth and Family Services).
Bill’s background in environmental and geographic research and in community development practice allows him to see and explore the contexts in which clients work. He helps them see the relationships of factors that influence their theory of change, their activities, and their results. With these insights, Bill effectively coaches clients in the development of appropriate data collection tools and the interpretation of their data. Using this approach, he helped six providers of youth and family services evaluate and strengthen their programs to reduce youth violence and provide intervention services to prevent youth from entering the criminal justice system. Some tools developed for this project of Reinvesting in Youth are available here.
Whether training UN employees or coaching environmental activists, Bill finds ways for program managers and staff to clearly identify and measure their success. On a different kind of assignment, Bill conducted an external evaluation of the Wilburforce Foundation’s Yellowstone to Yukon Program that links scientists and advocacy-focused nonprofits in efforts to better understand and integrate the science and politics of habitat preservation. The work involved surveys and interviews from multiple perspectives and succeeded in identifying ways that anticipated changes and benefits could be recognized and improved.
Bill has research, evaluation, and educational experience in international development. He has trained Russian NGO staff on the development of outcome maps to better plan their work for reducing child abandonment across Russia and serving youth in orphanages. He conducted the first evaluation of the Outreach Unit of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and co-developed a web-based evaluation system that allows for the easier collection, analysis, and use of data on victims and communities with which the ICC works. He conducted research among professional staff, managers, and representatives of member states on results-based budgeting and management at the United Nations and then managed a conference in Geneva for UN affiliates to identify best practices. He has also worked as an evaluation and educational consultant with the community of Auroville in India. In 2000, he started a program that, for 12 years, took University of Washington students to study and learn through service in this unique universal township of 2,700 people from 53 countries.
Bill is an experienced trainer, and he has coached many organizations in the development of research and action plans that have enhanced their functions and productivity in ways that also have supported the development of evaluation expertise in staff, clients, and partners of those organizations. He is also an active member of local, national, and international organizations that encourage appropriate environmental and human development.
From 1984 to 1999, Bill worked on over 300 projects with non-profits, government agencies, schools and neighborhoods throughout Colorado as the Director of the Center for Community Development & Design at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He was honored with many national, state, and local awards for his service and research programs. He also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Geography & Environmental Studies, Public Administration, and Ethnic Minority Studies.
In his teaching career, Bill has developed innovative courses for undergraduates and graduate students that merge readings and discussions about environmental philosophy, sustainable development, environmental issues in developing countries, natural hazard mitigation, human geography, planning, community development, and research and citizen involvement methods with applied research, community involvement, program evaluation, and service. He is committed to a teaching and training style that gets students engaged in learning by involving them in real-world applications of their developing knowledge and skills. He often involves practicing professionals in his classes and community-based research so students can see and participate in real change efforts as they learn. Most recently, he taught the foundation course and mentored post-graduate students in the University of Washington’s Evaluation Certificate Program.
Bill has been an innovator in helping K-12 schools and universities implement environment-focused service learning projects (including course and curriculum design, spring break and fall orientation projects, and a charter school called GLOBE (Global and Local Objectives for Better Education) that he helped initiate and manage as Board President. In the Puget Sound Region, he served on the Advisory Council for the Homewaters Project (an environmental education nonprofit), and he volunteers with the Stream Keepers Alliance of Lake Forest Park. He also develops educational adventures to many countries, including India (where he works with many organizations engaged in environmental, educational, and development projects).
Bill brings his teaching style, his experience in environmental studies, community development, and evaluation, and his commitment to community engagement into his work with schools, universities, and evaluation clients by developing hands-on training and coaching activities that empower clients to learn and implement effective evaluations that improve their programs and illustrate their success to themselves, their partners, and their funders. Many different types of organizations have benefited from his work and his evaluations by organizations and by students are consistently high.