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Seeing the World as a Network – Jim Thomas

by on October 31, 2012

To start this weekly email series, I would like to share a few words about my family, work experience, and goals at MEASURE Evaluation.

I was raised in California, where I attended college and met my wife. We celebrated our 30th anniversary this year. We have two sons – both of them are in college now, both in North Carolina. My 91-year-old mother also moved from California to be near us in her old age.

I studied nutrition at the University of California, and then took a USAID-funded job as a nutritionist in a very remote part of the Congo, which was then called Zaire. During graduate work in epidemiology, I lived in Kenya for a year, conducting research on infant diarrhea. A few years later (1989), I joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina as a professor of social epidemiology. I joined MEASURE Evaluation in 2010.

As the new Director for MEASURE Evaluation, my chief goal is to see us finish Phase 3 well. I have inherited a well-functioning project: We have good systems in place and excellent staff. So, we have good prospects for a strong finish. My job will be to keep us strong and to let the world know what we have achieved. With a strong finish, we will be in good shape to put ourselves forward for any new opportunities that may present themselves.

Although trained as an epidemiologist, I have had a long-standing interest in leadership. I am delighted to have the privilege of leading MEASURE Evaluation and working with you.


  1. Sebentile Myeni permalink

    Congratulations to the new director, its good hear from you. This message made me feel like Im really part of the worldwide measure evaluation network. Im really looking forward to working with you and to make the difference especially in Swaziland, where Im based. If there are suggestions or recommendations on improving M&E please let me know.

  2. Jim Thomas permalink

    Thank you for your comment, Sebentile. It is good to hear from you. I, too, now feel better connected with our folks in Swaziland.

  3. Jim Thomas permalink

    I received this comment via email from Sampson Ezikeanyi in Nigeria:

    “Thank you Jim for your commitment to lead our project. For me, I have interest in Productive Business Dialogue that will shape the way we do business with the countries we work in. This wil entail sustaining our achievements and host country ownership through advocacy and evidence based decision making. Regards to your family.”

    Here is my response:

    Sampson, I Googled “productive business dialog” and found this:

    Is it what you are talking about? Can you say a bit more about the potential you see here (I am not questioning the potential. I just want to know more about what you are thinking)? Thanks.


    • Dr. Sampson Ezikeanyi permalink

      Thank Jim for this posting and request for clarrification.
      Before joining MEASURE Evaluation Project here in Nigeria, I was a senior staff in the HIV/AIDS Division of the Federal Ministry of Health Abuja where i learnt much about doing business with Government and that is what is informing my contribution to our project.
      Hence, what i mean by Productive business dialogue in this context in “Building Government Commitment” through effective dialogue. You will agree with me that government is the highest financier of any project but many contesting needs that should be prioritized. Hence, governemnt lacks enough evidence to commit certain resources even in the most burning population need e.g Healthcare.
      Like in Anambra state of Nigeria where i work for the project, there multiple USAID funded implementing partners projects in HIV and other health issues including the FHI/SIDHAS project, but the state is not commited to effectively coordinate their activities and duplication is the result. There is no palpable state leadership and coordination even though there is fairly good structures and systems.
      So, i am suggesting that we at MEASURE Evaluation especially at that top, will innovated result based strategy to building governemnt commitment (e.g Developing and support coordination framework) . “Government must be committed before Ownership”.Sampson.
      I think also that what donor agencies are doing is “Supporting the System” and NOT “Strengthening the System”. That is why it is not sustainable when such support is withdrawn.

      Lets keep talking and researching.

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