The Rucks Group

Formed in 2008 by Dr. Lana Rucks, the firm has evolved to focus as essentially an applied social science research firm. We are an Ohio certified MBE/EDGE business located in The 130 Building in Dayton's Business District.

The Rucks Group is different from many other evaluation entities because we are able to marry together high levels of technical expertise with an accessible personable approach.

Because of our uniqueness, over the past ten plus years we have grown from working primarily within Dayton (Ohio) to touching projects through the east, mid-west, and southern quadrants of the US.

While we are a research and consulting firm that gathers, analyzes, and interprets data to enable our clients to measure the impact of their work, our mission is to maximize the return of resources invested in initiatives, and our vision is improved decision-making through data and thoughtful analysis.

Our Areas of Expertise

Here are a few examples of industries that we excel in. This is merely a small example of the variety of project types that we have worked on over the past several years.

  • Workforce Development

    Programs designed to transition displaced workers competitively back into the workforce.

  • Education & Learning

    Innovative K16 initiatives to increase students’ success in college and beyond.

  • Stem Fields

    Projects addressing the need to recruit students and workers into STEM and related fields.

  • Foundation Funding

    Meeting stakeholders evidence expectations of endeavors funded through foundations.

Client Success Studies


Evaluation planning for grant funding

eCivis is a comprehensive grants management provider of products and services. Through their grant management system they support grant seeking entities at all stages of the grant seeking and management phases. The Rucks Group has...READ MORE


Data collection to measure success

This teacher professional development project focused on having teachers develop inquiry based lesson plans for STEM related classes with an emphasis on current technology during a two week intensive workshop. An additional...READ MORE


Report writing

In 2009, Central State University was awarded a five-year grant from the National Institute of Health to significantly increase their research capacity through. Although they had worked with an internal evaluator...READ MORE


Evaluating programs for decision-making

EvaluATE is a national resource center dedicated to supporting and improving the evaluation practices of approximately 250 National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) projects across the country...READ MORE

Our work is guided by high ethical standards reflected in U.S. Health and Human Services, Federal Agency related guidelines & most importantly the guiding principles of the American Evaluation Association

Our Team

Lana J. Rucks, Ph.D. Principal Consultant

Lana Rucks, Ph.D., brings to her work more than two decades of professional history including over 15 years of research and evaluation experience. She has extensive professional and educational knowledge of designing and implementing research and program evaluation efforts. She has led dozens of evaluation initiatives funded by various federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Labor, National Institutes of Health, and National Science Foundation. Dr. Rucks has taught at Sinclair Community College, the University of Dayton, and Wright State University’s School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Rucks is a member of AEA and OPEG. She earned a doctorate and master’s degree in social psychology with a concentration in quantitative methods from The Ohio State University. She also earned a master’s degree in experimental psychology from the University of Dayton. At Ohio Wesleyan University she earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology with a concentration in chemistry.

Julia Siwierka, Ph.D. Director of Research and Evaluation Services

Dr. Siwierka joined The Rucks Group in 2018 and during her tenure has become a key member of The Rucks Group team. In her new role, she will focus on maximizing The Rucks Group’s processes for high standards to ensure consistency and excellence on the firm’s full portfolio of projects. Prior to her advancement, she served as a Research and Evaluation Associate with the firm. In this role she was involved in designing, facilitating, and analyzing data using mixed methods; creating evaluation plans; reporting findings and recommendations to clients; and engaging with clients as collaborators in evaluations. Dr. Siwierka has several years of experience in program evaluation and applied research methods within educational and youth organizations and community-based initiatives. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Theatre Arts at Dominican University and a master’s and doctorate degree in community psychology from Wichita State University.

Kathleen Lis Dean, Ph.D. Senior Research and Evaluation Associate

Kathleen Lis Dean, Ph.D., provides clients with insights from her extensive experience helping organizations connect strategy, evaluation, and learning for program improvement and impact. Prior to joining The Rucks Group, she spent 20 years in evaluation and strategic leadership roles at higher education, nonprofit, and philanthropic organizations. In these roles, she leveraged qualitative and quantitative data to support organizational effectiveness, outcomes assessment, accreditation, strategic planning, and continuous improvement. Dr. Dean utilizes a collaborative approach in her work. She also draws on her research about boundary-spanning teams, strategic thinking, and organizational learning to incorporate multiple perspectives and intentional practices to help clients achieve their goals. Dr. Dean earned a Ph.D. in higher education policy and leadership at the University of Maryland, and both a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in international relations at the University of Delaware.

Michael FitzGerald, Ph.D. Senior Research and Evaluation Associate

Michael FitzGerald, Ph.D., has extensive experience developing and applying quantitative and qualitative methods to assess and evaluate programs and initiatives. At The Rucks Group, Dr. FitzGerald is responsible for working on several of the firm’s large and complex evaluation initiatives that require innovative solutions and technical assistance to implement successfully. Prior to joining the firm, he spent 15 years at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center as a field service associate professor. He managed multiple concurrent evaluation projects for a range of purposes including individual performance evaluation, program evaluation, curriculum design, and organizational development. Dr. FitzGerald is a member of AEA and OPEG. Dr. FitzGerald completed his doctorate in social psychology at the University of Cincinnati and earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Miami University.

Alyssa McKinney-Hokky Research Associate

Alyssa McKinney-Hokky joined The Rucks Group in April 2021 with more than four years of experience in STEM fieldwork and more than three years of experience in informal STEM education. Prior to joining the firm, she worked within various nonprofit and government agencies to aid in grant-funded project execution, database management, and data analyses. At The Rucks Group, she utilizes her skills to provide direct support for evaluators through statistical analyses, database management, reporting, and focus group and interview transcription. Ms. McKinney-Hokky holds a bachelor’s degree in the biological sciences with a minor in psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University. She is currently pursuing a professional science master’s degree through the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

Alyce Hopes Outreach Coordinator

Alyce Hopes began with The Rucks Group as an intern in March 2020. Her success cultivating relationships with the research and evaluation community led to her current role as the firm’s Outreach Coordinator. In this capacity, Ms. Hopes supports The Rucks Group’s planning and implementation of strategic methods of engagement that benefits the community that the firm serves. Ms. Hopes earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Miami University; she is pursuing a master’s degree in market research from the University of Cincinnati.

Join Our Team!

Are you curious by nature? Are you passionate about data? Do you enjoy collaborating with a team and love to have fun while doing it? Then we are looking for you! We are currently accepting applications for Summer Research Assistant Interns and Summer Research Associate Fellows. While we do not currently have openings for full-time employment, you can review the roles that we typically employ below.

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