Apter & O'Conner

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Apter & O'Connor

Apter & O’Connor’s mission is to offer a unique combination of professional expertise and real world experience . . . to assist policy makers and practitioners improve and measure the effectiveness of their programs and strategies.

We are accountable to you. So, who are “we”? Veterans of both research and the real world.

Apter & O’Connor combines professional expertise and practical experience to help policy makers and practitioners improve and measure the effectiveness of their programs and strategies.

Apter & O’Connor was founded in 2003 by Dianne Apter and Cynthia O’Connor. We have 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 government contracts and related initiatives.

Dianne and Cynthia each have over 20 years’ experience in evaluation, program management, and continuous quality improvement. Along with our Associates, we have extensive experience and skill in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. We offer expertise in survey design and administration, needs assessments, statistical data analysis with large population sets, interviews and focus groups, as well as strategic planning, grant writing, and training and technical assistance for effective program design and self-assessment.


Our Team

Cynthia O'Connor (MPA)

Over 25 years of experience in public administration and human service programming...

Apter & O'Connor

Cynthia O'Connor (MPA)

has more than 25 years of experience in public administration and human service programming. She has vast knowledge about program development, management, and evaluation; public budgeting; regulatory compliance; legislative relations; and personnel issues. She has worked with schools, community agencies, and governmental entities to develop successful service delivery systems. Cynthia’s experience portfolio includes stints as a team leader at Syracuse University for Even Start family literacy evaluations, public health administrator with the Onondaga Health Department, and director of Special Children Services Bureau for Onondaga County, New York.

She is knowledgeable and experienced in both qualitative and quantitative evaluation methods as well as organizational dynamics. Cynthia is known for her natural leadership abilities, analytical skills, and willingness to listen first and talk later. Cynthia received her Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University and a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and is a graduate of Leadership Greater Syracuse.


Dianne Apter (MA)

has worked as a program evaluator for human service and educational agencies for more than 30 years...

Apter & O'Connor

Dianne Apter (MA)

Co-founder of A&O, is a recognized program evaluator for human service and educational entities and has more than 30 years of experience. Dianne spent the early years of her career as a certified elementary school teacher and worked within public school classrooms in Maryland and New York. She then directed the NY State Education Department’s Central New York Early Childhood Direction Center at the School of Education at Syracuse University. Dianne was a principal at A&O for twelve years and continues to serve the firm with consultation and strategic advising.


Donald Cibula (PhD)

has over twenty years experience in research design, investigation and statistical analysis...

Apter & O'Connor

Donald Cibula (PhD)

has over twenty-five years of experience in research design, investigation and statistical analysis. As an associate with Apter & O'Connor, Don has worked on all of our projects as the quantitative data statistician. He has produced documents in written and presentational formats that are easily understood and useful to our clients. He is currently on the faculty of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Previously Don was the Director of Surveillance and Statistics for the Onondaga County Health Department (OCHD) for fourteen years. Don 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 bio-statistical functions in support of public health surveillance, epidemiological research, program evaluation and quality improvement projects. He has co-authored 18 peer-reviewed publications and has given presentations at a variety of professional conferences.


Nancy Smith (MA)

has extensive experience in health policy reform and health systems design across government...

Apter & O'Connor

Nancy Smith (MA)

brings significant grant writing expertise and the management skills required to meet the goals of our clients. She has extensive experience in health policy reform and health systems design across government, nonprofit and academic sectors. Most recently, Nancy served as founding executive director of the Health Advancement Collaborative of Central New York (HAC-CNY) and continues to serve as consultant to the organization.

She was also the deputy director of the Institute on Aging at the University of Pennsylvania where she raised $27 million in grants and contracts, directed $17 million in grant-giving programs, and implemented a system-wide geriatric clinical service group across five hospitals.


Stephanie Burt Pelcher (M.S., C.A.S.)

was an educator in the Syracuse (NY) City School District for 33 years.

Apter & O'Connor

Stephanie Burt Pelcher (M.S., C.A.S.)

was an educator in the Syracuse (NY) City School District for 33 years.  Her positions included general education teacher, Instructional Specialist, Staff Development Facilitator and most recently Syracuse Teacher Center Director. Stephanie also led the statewide network of 128 NY State Teacher Centers while serving as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee. As a long standing member of the district’s Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) Committee she co-facilitated the development of the 2012 teacher evaluation rubric along with being one of the original founders of the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) Program in Syracuse where she served as Panel Member for 10 years. In addition, she was the coordinator, program developer and trainer with the School-Based Intervention Team (S-BIT) project for the past 20 years along with facilitating the Response to Intervention (RtI) framework for the district.

Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Gettysburg College, Masters of Science in Education focusing on Curriculum Development from SUNY Oswego and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership from Syracuse University. She is certified as an Agency Trainer for Cognitive CoachingSM along with being an RtI consultant for school districts within New York State and around the nation.


Vicki B. Quigley (J.D.)

has over 30 years experience in managing not-for-profit organizations including strategic...

Apter & O'Connor

Vicki B. Quigley (J.D.)

has over 30 years 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.


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Paul Kocak

Resident wordsmith Paul Kocak brings the benefits of 30+ years in communications and marketing.

Apter & O'Connor

Paul Kocak

Resident wordsmith Paul Kocak brings the benefits of 30+ years in communications and marketing. A specialist in clear messages for complicated subjects, Paul provides quality assurance and technical consistency in our documents. He earned a B.A. in English from Le Moyne College. He has published articles on technical communication in national and peer-reviewed publications. Paul began his career as a high-school English teacher and has enjoyed stints as a newspaper copy editor, a textbook editor, and a communications consultant to global businesses.


Marvin Blachman (PhD)

has nearly 20 years experience in higher education, as a faculty member and as an administrator...

Apter & O'Connor

Marvin Blachman (PhD)

has nearly 20 years experience in higher education, as a faculty member and as an administrator. His teaching and research background is in statistics, economics, mathematics, business, and marketing, with particular interests in econometric analysis. He is currently the Associate Vice President for Liberal Arts at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, NY. Marvin has a Ph.D. in Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, where he also earned an MBA and a Master’s of Science in Economics. He is a 2012 graduate of the SUNY Leadership Institute.

Before coming to Jefferson, Marvin was on the faculty at Broome Community College in Binghamton, NY. In addition to teaching, he chaired the Strategic Planning Committee and chaired the college-wide assembly overseeing assessment and campus climate issues. In his current role, Marvin supervises program and course assessment for student learning outcomes, manages grant proposals and evaluations, and supports the college’s strategic planning initiatives. Recently, he chaired a two year, campus-wide self-study process to guide recommendations for improvements through innovations and efficiencies.


Sara Wall Bollinger

Sara Wall Bollinger

Sara provides a tailored approach to organizational capacity building, business development, leadership...

Sara Wall Bollinger - Apter O'Connor

Sara Wall Bollinger (BA, AA)

provides a tailored approach to organizational capacity building, business development and leadership coaching. She has worked with a varirety of clients including not-for-profit agencies, local government, educational institutions and healthcare providers.

Sara was a pioneer in the development of 'consumer-directed' services for people in need of long term personal assistance due to chronic health conditions or disabilities. She was Executive Director for Health Planning at HeatheConnections, which supports regional population health improvement. Prior to that, Sara served as Executive Director of Enable, now known as AccessCNY, an agency that provides services for children and adults with physical, developmental or health related disabilities in Central New York.

She is also active with several entities as a volunteer board member. She has experience with in many service areas including health, aging, mental health, disability, early childhood education, family planning, veterans, refugees and social services.

A life-long learner, Sara is a Health Leadership Fellow with the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York and a graduate of Leadership Greater Syracuse. She earned a Master’s degree in Education from Colgate University after graduating from Alfred University (BA) and Cazenovia College (AA).


Ann Sutherland (MS)

has worked for more than 20 years as an evaluator and as a program manager in the non-profit, education ...

Apter & O'Connor

Ann Sutherland (MS)

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.