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About Us

We've walked in your shoes. We're driven by data.

Apter & O’Connor combines decades of management-level, practical experience in the non-profit sector -- with deep knowledge of research and data-driven decision making -- to evaluate and empower mission-driven organizations, collaboratives, and governmental entities of all kinds and sizes.

Founded in 2003 -- and today led by Cynthia O’Connor -- we've built a solid reputation for delivering evaluation and planning solutions for diverse clients, clearly articulating findings and offering practical recommendations. As a certified Women Owned Business Enterprise, we partner with like-minded professionals on a wide range of engagements all designed to improve accountability and expand impact. And we have extensive experience and skill in both qualitative and quantitative research methods, with a demonstrable track record in:

  • survey design and administration
  • interviews and focus groups
  • comprehensive needs assessments
  • statistical data analysis based on large data sets
  • strategic planning and group facilitation
  • funds sourcing and program design
  • Theory of Change and Logic Model development
  • professional and leadership development

We welcome the opportunity to speak with you or your team, commencing with a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. Our firm will also entertain participation in your request for proposal process. And, of course, references and case histories are available upon request.

Our Team

Cynthia O'Connor

Cynthia O'Connor

Founder & Principal
Cynthia O'Connor (MPA) leads the team at A&O and offers over thirty years of experience in public administration and human service programming to clients across the country. In the past three decades policy makers and practitioners have significantly improved and accurately measured the effectiveness of their organizations as a direct result of her professional expertise. These enterprises are both numerous and diverse. They range from school districts, universities, government entities, community coalitions and foundations to nonprofits of all sizes. Cynthia has the skills and commitment necessary to expand the capacity of organizations and strengthen community-wide initiatives. With her guidance they have successfully developed essential service delivery systems to achieve their intended outcomes.

Prior to the founding of A&O in 2003, Cynthia  was a team leader at Syracuse University for family literacy program evaluations, served as the Public Health Administrator with the Onondaga County Health Department in Syracuse, NY and served as the Director of Special Children Services in Syracuse. She has a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. In addition, Cynthia is a graduate of Leadership Greater Syracuse and a Master Lifecycle Consultant with Nonprofit Lifecyle Institute founded by Susan Kenny Stevens Ph.D.  Her evaluation work at Syracuse University and currently with A&O encompasses designing and implementing multi-site, mixed methods evaluations as well as developing and using measurement tools that are relevant to sites diverse in both need and demographics. She is a sought-after leader and innovative facilitator for organizational planning and capacity building. With each engagement, Cynthia has promoted accountability and worked tirelessly to create an organizational culture supportive of data-driven decision making.  Time after time Cynthia has accomplished the most critical goal, to inspire leaders to embrace change with confidence.

Donald Cibula

Donald Cibula

Senior Associate, Research & Evaluation
Donald Cibula (PhD) has over thirty years of experience in research design, investigation and statistical analysis. Don is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, SUNY Upstate Medical University and an Adjunct Professor, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He is responsible for instruction in Biostatistics and allied subjects in the Upstate Public Health Program. Prior to joining the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Don served as Director of Surveillance and Statistics for the Onondaga County Health Department, where he gained nearly 20 years experience in applied statistical analysis of a wide variety of public health issues. He pioneered the use of Geographic Information System technology and the mapping of measures in their social contexts for community needs assessments. During his tenure at OCHD he was responsible for overseeing all statistical functions in support of public health surveillance, epidemiological research, program evaluation and quality improvement projects. He has co-authored dozens of peer-reviewed publications, continues to teach graduate level courses in quantitative analysis and is a regular presenter at a variety of professional conferences. As an associate with Apter & O'Connor, Don oversees research and evaluation design and supports each engagement with his expertise in quantitative data analysis.

Darlene García Torres

Darlene García Torres

Associate, Research & Evaluation
Darlene García Torres is a quantitative and qualitative researcher currently completing her dissertation as a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Leadership and Policy at the University at Buffalo. Her research sub-field is sociology of education. Her past research work has focused on the entire education pipeline from pre-school to graduate education and has been published in peer-reviewed academic journals, including Journal of Educational Administration, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. She also serves as a peer reviewer for Educational Administration Quarterly, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Educational Studies. Darlene has taught graduate-level research courses to teachers at Boston University and SUNY Buffalo State in addition to her past experience teaching at the K-12 level.

Tracy Herman

Tracy Herman

Associate, Evaluation, Project Management & Business Development
Tracy Herman (MA) has been conducting program evaluations and needs assessments nationwide since 2000. She has led over fifty project evaluations for educators, foundations, and non-profit organizations. A&O clients benefit from Tracy’s strong customer service, organizational skills, attention to detail, and vast analytical experience. She is skilled in developing and implementing data collection tools; analyzing qualitative and quantitative data; and preparing reports for multiple audiences.Tracy’s work has contributed to the success of numerous clients across a wide range of fields, including support for students with disabilities, teacher preparation and professional development, STEM education, instructional technology, college preparation, after-school programming for high-risk youth, workforce development, early childhood literacy, mental health, homelessness, philanthropy, and public broadcasting services. Tracy has a Master's degree in Health Psychology from Northern Arizona University.

Paul Muench

Paul Muench

Associate, Capacity Building & Leadership Development
Paul Muench (MS, CAS) is a National Board-Certified and award-winning history teacher with over thirty years of experience as an educator and varsity high school football coach. His dynamic and engaging style has drawn the attention of leaders in government and business over the past decades. Since 2007 Paul has been an integral piece of Raymour and Flanigan’s Leadership Development Institute as both designer and presenter. He is a highly sought after and frequent speaker on motivational and team building initiatives. He has received rave reviews from numerous businesses, state-wide organizations and nonprofit groups for his insight, humor and inspiration. In 2019, Paul was engaged by Daneli Partners to assist in the development of their leadership education division. A shining illustration of his ability to combine knowledge and inspiration to obtain success was proven in his sectional football championships with the smallest school in the large school division. Paul has B.S in Secondary Education: Social Studies (SUNY Oswego), M.S. in Reading Education (SUNY Oswego), and CAS in Educational Leadership (LeMoyne College).

Henry Park

Henry Park

Associate, Research & Evaluation
Henry Park (PhD) is a skilled researcher and evaluator, serving as an Evaluation Specialist at Columbia University Medical Center. His expertise includes database management and advanced statistical analysis with numerous programs such as SPSS, SAS, and more. Henry constructs and manages databases, following best practice standards in data science. Henry has led quantitative components in both multi-million dollar federally funded projects as well as large-scale projects for various granting organizations. His extraordinary ability to communicate complex statistical findings in simple and clear terms is a gift few possess. Henry holds a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Lauren Polvere

Lauren Polvere

Consultant, Research & Evaluation
Lauren Polvere (PhD) is the Founder and Principal of Policy Strategy Consultants, LLC, a research, evaluation, and consulting firm. Lauren is a Developmental Psychologist, evaluator, and policy researcher with more than a decade of experience leading research studies and evaluations, with a special focus on housing, behavioral health, and early childhood. Prior to founding Policy Strategy Consultants, Lauren was a research scientist at McGill University and the University at Albany.

Stephanie Burt Pelcher

Stephanie Burt Pelcher

Associate, Capacity Building & Leadership Development, Certified Cognitive Coaching SM Trainer 

Stephanie Burt Pelcher (MS) is an invaluable asset for the team at Apter & O’Connor, with thirty-three years of experience in urban education at one of the Big 5 New York State districts (Syracuse or SCSD).  Stephanie delivers both foundational and advanced level training and guidance to school districts, educational organizations and nonprofits of all sizes. She skillfully enables clients to build, support and enhance capacities for effective communication and leadership. Stephanie has found success at every level of the educational strata.  She has been an educator and district-wide leader, classroom teacher, instructional specialist and staff development facilitator.  She led the statewide network of 128 NY State Teacher Centers as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee in her capacity as Director of the Syracuse Teacher Center.  Throughout her tenure with SCSD she has also served as coordinator, developer, and trainer with the School-Based Intervention Team (S-BIT) project and facilitator for the Response to Intervention (RtI) framework.  Stephanie has been frequently called on to share her vast expertise with districts across NY State and around the nation, receiving high praise and rave reviews wherever she presents.

Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Gettysburg College, Master of Science in Education focusing on Curriculum Development from SUNY Oswego and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership from Syracuse University. 

Ann Sutherland

Ann Sutherland

Senior Associate, Research & Evaluation
Ann Sutherland (MES) has worked for more than 20 years as an evaluator and as a program manager in the non-profit, education and government sectors. She has a strong background in social research and is a skilled facilitator and trainer experienced in working in diverse settings. Ann has worked with local community organizations and Syracuse University to facilitate strategic planning processes, develop new programs, secure funding, build accountability systems, and collaboratively assess and improve performance. Ann also provides evaluation services for international development organizations. This work has included meta-evaluations and organizational reviews for United Nations agencies, evaluation quality assessments, training in results-based management and evaluation, the development of monitoring and evaluation systems, and evaluations of sustainable agriculture, enterprise development, peace-building, and gender-focused programs. Ann has a Master of Environmental Studies from York University and a Certificate of Advanced Studies from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Vicki B. Quigley

Vicki B. Quigley

Senior Associate, Capacity Building & Strategic Planning
Vicki Quigley (J.D.) has over 30 years of experience in managing not-for-profit organizations including strategic planning, capital, and operating fund development, and navigating the legal issues of NFP management. Vicki began her career in museum management and served on funding panels for the federal Institute for Museum and Library Services and the New York State Council for the Arts. Vicki taught for many years as an adjunct professor in Syracuse University’s Master of Arts program in Museum Studies, and in the College of Law teaching Legal Research and Writing. For five years she was the Dean of the Business Division of SUNY Jefferson Community College in Watertown, New York where she initiated new degree programs in Sports Management, and Winery Management and Marketing. Vicki has a J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law and specializes in issues of intellectual property and charitable corporations. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts.

Dianne Apter

Dianne Apter

Founder & Advisor
Dianne Apter (MA) has decades of experience in program development, implementation, community planning, management, evaluation and policy formation. In addition to lecturing at the university level, Dianne has presented her work at national, state, and local conferences and prestigious academic publications.   She has a diverse and comprehensive background having spent her early years as a certified teacher in public school systems before being appointed as a Research Project Director at Syracuse University's School of Education. Dianne directed both the Central New York Early Childhood Direction Center and the New York State Health Department’s Regional Planning Grant for Early Intervention Services. She also led evaluation projects for several school districts and non-profit agencies throughout New York. In 2003 she co-founded Apter & O’Connor with Cynthia O’Connor. Dianne retired from A & O in 2015 but remains as an active consultant and trusted advisor to the firm.