Hanh Cao Yu

In Funded Scholars
Hanh Cao Yu
Hanh Cao Yu

Hanh Cao



Vice President and Senior Social Scientist 
Social Policy Research Associates

Professional Bio

Hanh Cao Yu (Ph.D., Education, Administration and Policy Analysis, Stanford University; B.S. business administration, finance and economics, University of Southern California) has almost 20 years of experience in conducting qualitative and quantitative research, and has led multi-level and large-scale evaluations in the areas of youth development, school reform and multicultural education. She has a wealth of experience assessing the program performance of private, public sector and community-based programs and possesses a high level of expertise in culturally responsive evaluation of diverse immigrant and minority populations in multicultural settings. She has led more than 25 projects including: the evaluation of Ford Foundation”s Youth Leadership Development Initiative; The Carnegie Corporation and Spencer Foundation sponsored project entitled, From Tolerance to Understand; A Study of Intergroup Relations Among High School Students; the evaluation of the Women”s Funding Network”s Dismantling Poverty Initiative; The California Endowment”s Diversity Audit; and the Kellogg Foundation”s Capitalizing on Diversity Cross-Cutting Theme. Dr. Yu is the author of numerous publications including: Adolescent Worlds: Negotiating Family, Peer, and School Worlds and a contributing author to theHandbook of Leadership Development Evaluation.

Project Description

This project employs an ethnographic design to conduct a Leadership Dialogue Circle and in-depth case studies of the nine San Francisco Bay Area Community Health Leaders. The goal is to examine, compare, and contrast the influential forces and defining events that shaped CHLs” leadership pathways. The evaluation framework incorporates the concepts of “critical leadership pathways.” Key analytical elements include (1) historical, social, and political context, (2) cultural and family history, (3) barriers, (4) defining moments and events, (5) relationship/network/skill building, (6) mentors and collaborators, (7) learnings and breakthroughs, and (8) leadership processes and outcomes from the CHL award. The evaluation”s main objective is to examine and analyze CHLs” pathways to leadership, the similarities and differences in their experiences and issues they address. This evaluation also investigates challenges to effective and sustained leadership on SF Bay Area health and community issues.

Based on a literature review of leadership development evaluations, this evaluation employs a Critical Leadership Pathways Model that guides the design, data collection and analysis. The logic model has two components. The first component lays out elements of CHLs” critical leadership pathways, and the second identifies leaders” relationships to context, leadership processes, and outcomes.

Key methods for this qualitative evaluation include a document review, critical leadership pathway mapping, a Leadership Dialogue Circle with the CHLs, biographical interviews with the CHLs, and mentor/collaborator interviews. Data accuracy, reliability and validity is achieved through fidelity to the logic model in developing and implementing the data collection tools. Usage of multiple data sources will help triangulate and reconcile any contradictions in the data.

The CHL Program Evaluation products and deliverables include (1) a white paper to inform the Building Human Capital Portfolio and philanthropic, scholar, and practitioner audiences, (2) a final report with in-depth CHL case studies, and (3) a video biographical documentary of SF leaders.

My New Connections Experience

This award provides both an exciting opportunity to further my scholarship and experience in studying leadership development among community health leaders. In addition, the New Connections Program provides a platform for and professional development and networking with other scholars and professionals of color that will undoubtedly last a life time.

Research Interests

My research interests include effective philanthropy, place-based initiatives, policy advocacy, systems change, community health, organizational effectiveness, adolescent development, civic competence, school reform, multicultural education, diversity and organizational change. My methodological expertise includes qualitative and quantitative analysis, case study analysis, ethnographic data collection and survey design.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Mid-Career Consultant
  • Award Year: 2009
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Human Capital
  • Project Name: Evaluating and Connecting Powerful Pathways of Diverse SF Bay Area Community Health Leaders.

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