Milligan founds program evaluation company to improve social programs

Kerry Milligan, MSSW ‘83
Co-Founder and President, LeCroy & Milligan Associates

Kerry Milligan began her career as a social worker in counseling settings, and transitioned into working as a prevention educator to address problems before they became crises. But she began to wonder whether the efforts she was engaged in were making a difference. This led Milligan to get involved in program evaluation. In 1991, she and her husband, Craig LeCroy, formed LeCroy & Milligan Associates, a small, private business in Tucson, Arizona. As president, Milligan leads the company’s focus on providing practical information and analysis that can help social programs improve and remain accountable. In 2016, Milligan was recognized as an "Outstanding Entrepreneur" by Inside Tucson Business with a Women of Influence award, following a 2015 "Best Place to Work" award for LeCroy & Milligan Associates from the Tucson Metro Chamber.


Social work focuses on the whole system, the whole context, and that perspective is vital for working with organizations to improve their practice.

What originally inspired you to become a social worker?

I wanted to be a social worker from the time I was 10 years old. I was very inspired by my parents’ discussion groups in our home on Sunday nights with other adults who were exploring Unitarian Universalism. Their discussions in the mid-late 60’s were all around social justice issues. I was inspired to create change by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement. I also remember wanting to go work in Appalachia with poor families when I heard about all the poverty there. Then, at Colorado State University, where I got my BSW in the late 70’s, I found a resonance with the idea that in order to create change for individuals we need to work with the whole system.


How would you briefly describe the services that your agency provides?

Our goal is to provide effective evaluation services that enable stakeholders and clients to document outcomes, provide accountability, and engage in continuous improvement efforts. We do research, evaluation, program planning, and training for state, federal and local agencies and non-profits. We collect and analyze qualitative and quantitative data, such as interviews, focus groups and surveys, in order to provide these organizations useful information to improve their services. Much of our work is with human services, education, and health service organizations. We have clients that receive federal grants and need to evaluate their outcomes. We also receive research grants to assess the outcomes of new or innovative social programs. As a good example, we have had a long-term engagement with the local United Way.  A number of years ago, United Way contracted with us to evaluate several of their grantee programs providing early childhood support services.  This work has grown over the years to assisting them and a large county-wide coalition of organizations to conduct strategic planning, program development and coalition evaluation to assess the impact of their collective work on improving early childhood health and education outcomes.


How has your School of Social Work education prepared you for both your past jobs and your current job?

I have always said that a social work education has been perfect preparation for my current job. Social work focuses on the whole system, the whole context, and that perspective is vital for working with organizations to improve their practice. When we are looking at why a particular program or treatment approach makes a difference, we need to look at all aspects of the system and environment. Much of my job entails facilitating groups—whether it is my staff group, a government funder, a program staff, an advisory group, or a focus group of young people—so social work group skills are used daily. Also, having worked directly in the field as a social worker gives me practical and real knowledge of how program staff might react to evaluation requirements and gives me context to interpret evaluation findings.


Last edited by karnaky on Friday, May 20, 2016 | Printer Friendly Version