Past Projects


University of Kentucky, College of Medicine 1972-1974

Professor Mertens has dedicated her entire career to address issues of human rights and social justice with a goal of social transformation. This focus first emerged at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine when she advocated for medical educators to expand admission criteria to include skills in human relations and to enroll future medical doctors that were not primarily white males.


Appalachian Regional Commission at the University of Kentucky 1975-1979

Conduct evaluations in the Appalachian region, including 13 states that run along the Appalachain mountain chain from New York to Alabama. Programs were based on needs assessments and were designed to provide opportunities for professional development for people who lived in high poverty rural areas.


Ohio State University, National Center for Research in Vocational Education 1979-1983

She conducted policy research for the US Congress and published articles on the effects of vocational education, disaggregated by gender to reveal gender bias; the effects of vocational education needs in rural areas; and the relationship between vocational education and high school dropout with a focus on the need for federal policy changes needed to address these issues.


Gallaudet University, Washington DC 1983-2014

Not satisfied with conducting research “on” a marginalized population, she wanted the opportunity to work “with” members of marginalized populations to conduct research and evaluation that would address their experiences of discrimination and oppression as a step towards creating social transformation. In 1983, she moved to Gallaudet University, the only university in the world serving deaf and hard of hearing students. While she anticipated learning sign language and about deaf culture, but she had not realized how much she would learn about conducting research with marginalized communities by moving to Gallaudet. This experience catalyzed her formulation of the transformative paradigm.


American Evaluation Association: President, Board Member, and Member of International Working Group: 1997-present

1997-2002: Served as President of the American Evaluation Association and Board Member from 1997-2002, during which she provided leadership for the Diversity Initiative that resulted in the establishment of the Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI, ) training program for minorities in evaluation as well as the International Initiative that lead to the establishment of the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (  Served as AEA’s first representative on the IOCE Board.She first used the term "transformative" in her role as president of the American Evaluation Association when she chose the annual conference theme as: Transforming Society through Evaluation. Astonishingly, the evolution of that concept through on-going testing with diverse populations has resulted in the increased capacity of persons from 77 different countries to conduct research and evaluation that addresses social justice. The AEA and the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE) provided funds to support Dr. Mertens’ conduct of professional development in Kazakhstan and Chile.


African Network of Gender and Development Evaluators 2003

I was invited to conducted a regional training workshop on gender and human rights for the African Evaluation Association that supported the establishment of the Africa Network of Gender and Development Evaluators (AGDEN, ). The workshop was organised by UNIFEM/AfrEA and was titled Regional Training Workshop on Monitoring and Evaluation in Africa: Gender, Human Rights and Participatory Approaches, Johannesburg, South Africa in November 17-21, 2003. The Vision of AGDEN is accountability, social justice and equity in African development. The Mission of AGDEN is to foster (project, programmed and policy) accountability, facilitate just and equitable development in Africa through entrenching the values of effective gender and rights based participatory monitoring and evaluation.


World Bank 2013-2014

A most inspiring project that connected evaluation, research, and policy was conducted in conjunction with the World Bank Resilience Education Initiative in Nepal, India, Afghanistan, Syria, and Bhutan. Over a period of two years she worked with researchers from these countries to design and implement studies focused on creating transformative change for marginalized populations. For example, in India, they worked with the LGBTQ community to increase their safety in higher education institutions, an issue that rose in prominence after the Indian parliament upheld being “homosexual” as illegal. In Afghanistan, the focus was on changing policies that would support women in higher education, including issues of safety and inclusion. The Nepal team worked to address policies and practices related to internally displaced people who were living in squatter camps in Kathmandu. The Syrian research team worked on changing educational policies in Lebanon so that refugee children from Syria could continue their education in Lebanon. Each team established a Local Advisory Committee that was reflective of policy makers, service providers, and community members. This unique approach to international development represented an integration of resilience theory with transformative mixed methods approaches.


Journal of Mixed Methods Research and the Mixed Methods International Research Association

2009-2014: Served as editor for the Journal of Mixed Methods Research ( ), impact factor 1.927, ranked 8 of 93 Social Sciences Interdisciplinary; Served on committee to found the Mixed Methods Research International Research Association, an interdisciplinary organization ( ).