inquiry, discovery, insight



Recent projects - Sando and Associates recently interviewed senior scientists at the headquarters of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  This was part of their Voices of the Fisheries project, supported by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Science and Technology.  We also worked on a customer experience journey mapping project for Frontier Communications, conducting in-depth interviews with small- and medium-sized business owners.


Monitoring and Evaluation contract - Sando and Associates was recently part of a winning proposal for a new five-year Technical Assistance contract with USAID's Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning, Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research.  The contract will cover performance and impact evaluations, monitoring and evaluation and policy implications for projects around the world.  As a subcontractor, Sando and Associates will provide research services, project design and report development.  The contract will run from 2015-2020.


Grant Writing project -  The Smithsonian Institution tapped Sando and Associates to help create a grant application to fund a conference on the subject of Native American youth and mental health issues.  The conference is scheduled for spring 2017.


Global Health project - The US Agency for International Develoopment recently announced that The Global Development Small Business Consortium (GDSBC) was one of several organizations winning a multi-year contract for TASC4 - Africa IDIQ.  Sando and Associates is a founding member of the GDSBC. For more information about the consortium and its members, see the website -


Award-winning project - The Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists awarded honorable mention in its 2013 biannual Praxis Award to a U.S. Census Bureau evaluation of the 2010 U. S. Census.  Ruth Sando was a contract ethnographer on this project (see the report and picture below). Laurie Schwede, Center for Survey Measurement (CMS)  headed the project team, in collaboration with Rodney Terry, also with CMS. The team was comprised of 12 Census Bureau Staff and 16 independent ethnographers.



Pictured from left, front row: Tammy Gaich (project intern), Ruth Sando, Laurel Schwede (CMS), Irv Vann (FLD), Denise Gordon (FLD), Ryan King (CMS)

Back row, from left: Julie Shaw (FLD), Rodney Terry (CMS), John Jones, (DSSD), Kopen Henderson (DMD), Frank Vitrano (Associate Director for the 2020  Census and evaluation project sponsor).


The project focused on differential undercounts of some minority populations across the US.  More than 600 interviews were carried out in 9 sites across the country, looking at possible coverage errors and later the observed households' data were valideated against the census records.  According to Frank Vitrano, Associate Director for Decenial Census, "These ethnographic studies are an excellent complement to the more nationally representative and quantifiable results that we obtained from the majority of 2010 Census evalutions, experiments and assessments.  The focused work of these ethnographers helped us learn things that we could never learn from our other methods during a census."


Ruth Sando delivered a paper and participating in a panel organized by the Census Bureau project managers, Laurie Schwede and Rodney Terry, at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Albuquerque in March 2014. The title of the presentation was "The Social Side of Surveys: How Respondents' Attitudes Affect The Interviewer, The Respondent and The Data."


Sando and Associates celebrated its 10th year in business!  2013 was a landmark for our company - a full 10 years since its inception.  Many thanks to all our clients and professional associates for making this happen.  We look forward to many more years serving the needs of future clients.


The Washington Statistical Society and the DC chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research held a summer conference July 30-31, 2013 at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C.  Ruth Sando delivered a poster presentation based on her work as a contract ethnographer for the US Census Bureau.

In November 2012, Ruth Sando attended the American Statistical Association's "International Conference on Methods for Surveying and Enumerating Hard-to-Reach Populations"  held in New Orleans, LA.  She presented "Exploring the Effects of Respondent Behavior on the Interview Process and Data Quality in a 2010 Census Case Study Evaluation."  This was based on research conducted for the US Census Bureau.

Ruth Sando spoke at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, in Seattle in March 2012.  She organized a roundtable to discuss building a professional career. Also participating in the roundtable were Dr. Lucy Laufe of Montgomery College and Dr. Karen Mudar of the National Park Service.

In February 2011, Sando and Associates received certification as a woman-owned business from WBENC (Women's Business Enterprise National Council). We have maintained our certification since then. The firm has also been certified as a small woman-owned business in the federal government's Central Contractor Registry for over seven years.


In 2011, Sando and Associates joined approximately 20 small businesses to form The Global Development Small Business Consortium.  The purpose of the consortium is to enable members to work jointly on large projects that need the variety of skills and expertise usually found in large firms.  The expanded capacity will allow us all to better serve our clients.  See a description of the consortium at

Ruth Sando served as president of the Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists during the 2010-2011 program year.  She continues to work with the organization as a member of the board. WAPA has been focused on the needs of anthropologists who work outside of academia for over 30 years through a combination of topical meetings, a job bank, networking opportunities and information sharing.  WAPA's website is

Sando and Associates was part of a winning proposal by Eastern Research Group of Lexington, Massachusetts for a five-year contract with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  The client is their Coastal Services Center.

Ruth Sando interviewed applied anthropologists about their training and careers for the American Anthropological Association.  The interviews are available as podcasts on the AAA website:

In 2008 Ruth Sando was a featured speaker at several national conferences. In March, she spoke at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, where she co-presented with Melinda Chow of radio station KUT, an NPR member station in Austin, Texas. Their presentation was entitled “Teamwork in Ethnographic Fieldwork.”  Click on the link to find a podcast of her talk. practitioners-rise-to-the-challenge-a-discussion-of-methods-in-business-ethnography




Ruth Sando's work for the U.S. Census Bureau has been published on the Bureau's website.  She was a one of a number of social scientists who evaluated a project that searched for evidence of undercounting or overcounting in the 2010 census.  The authors of the report, Laurie Schwede and Rodney Terry, both of the US Census Bureau, combined the findings from all the ethnographers and field sites across the country to discuss the types and sources of miscounts and coverage errors.  The evaluation of the Census Coverage Measurement Survey begins on page 81.  Here is the report in a PDF file:


The AARP sponsored a project in 2006 on retirement savings attitudes and behavior among lower income women.  Sando and Associates conducted focus groups in Houston and Baltimore and which revealed many of the women's challenges.  Read the report on AARP's website, or click here:  women_saving_2006

Research conducted by Sando and Associates was discussed by Jared Bernstein in his book, "All Together Now: Common Sense for a Fair Economy."  Our qualitative research preceded a large quantitative project on economic pressures faced by middle-class Americans.  The project was sponsored by The Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

A large and creative ethnography project was described in “Shedding a New Light On An Old Flame.” Published in Quirk’s Marketing Research Review, Vol. XIX (5) 30-35, May 2005. Co-authored with Donna Sweeney, Associate Research Manager, SC Johnson.