Wednesday, December 1, 2021
As we approach the end of another year, my reflections of 2021 are not quite what I envisioned this time last year. We were excited about the promise of the vaccine totally eradicating the COVID-19 virus and looked forward to life returning to the “normal” that we once knew. Yet, here we are a year later, still struggling with some of the challenges of the pandemic and learning to adapt to a “new way of being.”
The American Evaluation Association has been fortunate to be able to successfully navigate most of the pandemic-related challenges, but not without sacrifice and careful, strategic planning. Our most recent annual conference Eval21 Reimagined was successful in terms of participation levels and feedback via the satisfaction survey. With 1,900 participants, we built on last year’s virtual conference and incorporated components to enhance the virtual experience. This included an extended day of programming for Topical Interest Group (TIG) specific workshops, coverage of more diverse topics, American Sign Language (ASL) accommodations for the plenaries, networking coffee chats and game night entertainment. We also strived to be most inclusive by offering registration scholarships to members (professionals, students and international). As we turn toward 2022, we approach it with a renewed focus on creating improved opportunities for member engagement.
Preparing for the coming year through a strategic lens requires us to be mindful of navigating unchartered issues related to the pandemic and its effects on the business side of the association industry. Production costs for most products and services have increased, especially for conferences. Meanwhile, revenue for AEA continues to decrease, specifically for membership renewals and sponsorship sales. We are exploring new avenues to generate revenue, but we have had to look inward at our current pricing models and do cost-benefit analyses to ensure that our fees cover the production costs of services and events. In some areas, they do not, and we will be addressing those deficits in the coming year.
During the Fiscal Affairs Town Hall meeting in October, we announced a slight increase to all fees (membership dues, conference registration and education) beginning in February 2022. We also launched an annual fundraising campaign to provide an opportunity for members and constituents to contribute to the funding of programs and areas of greatest need. A formal notice regarding fee increases will be shared shortly, but rest assured that we have considered the effects of the pandemic on our members and remain committed to keeping the increases nominal.
I look forward to leading AEA’s evolution, along with our Board of Directors. The year 2022 will be a time for more engagement, opportunities and development, and thank you for choosing to be a member of AEA.
To celebrate 35 years as an association, AEA is highlighting members that have made an impact within the association and industry. Take a look at some of the recent spotlights you may have missed:
AEA is excited to celebrate our 35th year as an association in 2021! Since our inception in 1986, we have strived to advance evaluation as a profession and provide a space for community amongst a diverse group of evaluators. AEA is standing tall after 35 years, even amid the second year of a global pandemic; we think that is worth commemorating.
We want you to join in the celebration! Send us a few sentences on what AEA means to you or your team by tagging us at @aeaweb on Twitter and Facebook, or on LinkedIn, or email email@example.com. Take pictures using the AEA Zoom backgrounds (Option 1, Option 2, and Option 3) during committee, TIG, or your own team meetings and send them to us for a chance to be featured in an upcoming AEA Newsletter!
We look forward to seeing you celebrate our anniversary.
Years in the Evaluation Field: 3+
Joined AEA: 2019
Why do you belong to AEA?
I belong to AEA because it is important to connect with the people who are thinking and shaking the field to the top of its game. AEA is a way to connect with bigger and more challenging ideas that make it harder to become siloed in your own practice, as well as forget about how your little piece is connected to the greater work, especially now that is increasingly about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
Why do you choose to work in the field of evaluation?
As a social worker, I've always been "in the field." Social work is all about entering an environment or community and taking the time to ask questions about what works and what could be working better. Accepting the designated role of evaluator felt natural and spending time with my new colleagues at home, and AEA has made it clear how much social work has to offer the field of evaluation.
What's the most memorable or meaningful evaluation that you have been a part of?
As part of my dissertation, I worked with a group of urban students in grades 5-8 to evaluate graffiti in their neighborhood. We started with the local assumption that all graffiti is vandalism; we ended up with a mixed methods report that combined data with visualizations to explain graffiti (in that neighborhood) as minimally vandalism and more frequently as an art form, as a political message or as a personal message. These students invited the local block club to meet with them in the school where they presented their findings and shared some food. The evaluation process allowed those students to value and apply their grade-level expertise to a community problem and present a new perspective to the elders of that community.
What advice would you give to those new to the field?
Guard your calendar! Make a commitment to time that is just for professional development and honor that commitment (easier said than done, but when it's on the calendar, it's harder to avoid the commitment). Also, learn how to say no in your work environment. You can say it respectfully, and you need to be able to say it. You can't be all things to all projects. Also, learn how to say yes! Take on projects that you know nothing about but have the right skills for. Be bold!
Anything additional you would like to share with the AEA community?
Connecting with AEA made one very important connection possible. Years ago, my dissertation referenced a researcher who developed a Sense of Community Index and a body of work that was very important to my research. I learned later that he and I had held the same executive director job in a community center in Buffalo and had gone on to become a leader in evaluation. We connected on Facebook, but at AEA 2019, I was able to meet face-to-face with David Chavis (Community Science) as a colleague. That is the ultimate magic of AEA for me.
We were pleased with the opportunities to speak with you during our Annual Conference this month!
About 125 people attended the AEA Business meeting that took place prior to the Annual Conference where we reported on our progress in financial planning and management, the impact of COVID and our response, as well as progress in key working groups and task forces. We went into breakout groups for deeper discussions on (1) diversity, equity and inclusion look like for AEA, (2) the AEA Competencies and how members are using them, (3) exploring ways to bring more resources into the association, and (4) how to increase member engagement. We are grateful to receive useful feedback from members on what they consider to be a healthy AEA, and ideas on how to continue to strengthen our Association.
In addition, for the first time, Board members hosted three coffee-break sessions, along with staff and volunteer leaders. Coffee breaks were attended by 50-130 participants, and they were on the following topics:
Getting Involved with AEA, hosted by Anne Vo and Leslie Goodyear, Nominations and Elections Co-Chairs; as well as Karen Jackson-AEA Board Member. Hosts and participants shared their pathways to get involved with AEA, while Zachary Grays covered how to volunteer with AEA. The discussion was rich benefitting both from current and past volunteers who shared their experiences.
First-Time Attendee Coffee Chat: Getting to know the AEA Virtual Experience hosted by Libby Smith, Board Member; and Elizabeth Grim-AEA365, AEA365 Blog Volunteer Curator. Hosts welcomed new participants, learned about what attracted new members to the AEA, and answered questions for first-time attendees about how to make their conference experience a success.
Trends in Evaluation & AEA, hosted by Tessie Catsambas and Tom Kelly-AEA Board Members. Hosts and participants discussed key trends in evaluation that the Board is watching in the government (federal and state), philanthropy, private sector, and international organizations. Our discussion was far-reaching, and we appreciated getting to know more about the issues and opportunities members see in their own evaluation work.
Thank you to all of our members who participated in these discussions, and for all your questions and suggestions for how we can continue to make the AEA our professional home, a place where we can have useful discussions about evaluation, network and advance our careers, and work with others to keep building this important professional field of evaluation.
Past President and Board Secretary
The 2021 AEA Board of Directors ballot is NOW OPEN! As an owner of AEA through your membership, we encourage you to exercise your benefit to elect the leaders whom you feel will best represent you. You will be voting for the following board positions: one (1) President-elect and three (3) Members-at-Large. Here are a few things to note when you go to cast your ballot.
Please take a moment to carefully consider each candidate as thoughtful selection of the leadership ensures the vitality and longevity of the association. The ballot includes extensive personal statements developed by each nominee to help you make informed selections.
The ballot will be available today and will close December 8, 2021 at 11:59 PM ET.
Thank you all for joining us virtually during Eval21: Reimagined! I had many take aways from our event, but a cleat theme that emerged is the importance of TIG membership here at AEA.
Someone said it best during one of our coffee chat reflection sessions: “TIGs are how you find your people at AEA. It’s how you make this 5500+ member organization a professional home. And there is something for everyone in the family!”
So….what is a Topical Interest Group (TIG) and why should you join one today? The AEA Topical Interest Groups are the heart and soul of AEA. Each TIG is defined around a special topic or interest and creates a forum whereby the knowledge, experience, and skills of each member can become a resource that the entire community can leverage. Joining a TIG is an exclusive benefit to AEA membership and is your ticket to a community of experts who share similar backgrounds and work settings.
AEA members may now join as many TIGs as they wish (previously capped at five per member). Although there is no longer a limit of how many TIGs you may join, we recommend you limit your membership to five in order to maintain appropriate involvement. Joining a TIG is easy and can be managed here. Simply log in and join the TIGs that best suit your interests.
TIG members will receive updates from their TIG via email directly from the community discussion forums. To manage your email preferences and frequency login here, navigate to your profile (top right corner of the screen), and manage your community notifications under ‘My Account’.
Not sure if a particular TIG is the right fit for you? While selecting from 60 TIGs sounds like a lot, there are a few great ways to get your feet wet before hitting the join button.
Through our TIGs you have access to a network of professionals for collaboration on ideas and practices and a well of invaluable knowledge on topic areas that may be of interest to you. Your participation is based on your availability, and there is no specific obligation associated with your TIG membership. Some TIGs are very active, with vibrant online discussion lists, resource websites, and special networking events, while others tend to focus their efforts around the AEA annual conference. Being active in a TIG allows you to increase your depth of knowledge in a specific area as well as pursue volunteer leadership opportunities.
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our colleague, George Julnes, last week on November 24 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
George was the current Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Evaluation, and he was a member of AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force and several working groups. George was also a past AEA Board Member, and a former chair of the Quantitative Methods TIG for many years. His experiences helped him in teaching students the technical, political, and strategic skills involved in using evaluation to improve societies and the lives of those of us living in them.
George believed that evaluation was a meaningful way to contribute to improving the lives of people by supporting efforts to improve public programs and policies. He contributed as an evaluator and/or evaluation consultant for many government agencies, including the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, U.S. Dept. of Education, U.S. Social Security Administration, and the National Science Foundation.
George earned a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Hawaii, because he realized that he wanted to know more about how to “make the world a better place.” He returned to school to earn MBA and MPP (public policy) degrees at the University of Michigan. These postdoctoral studies exposed him to the field of evaluation and the American Evaluation Association, which, in turn, led to many years of teaching public administration and psychology. George received AEA’s Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award in 2015 in recognition of the role he played as a pragmatic theorist, with a focus on theory to ensure evaluation is in service of the public interest.
The American Evaluation Association will celebrate George’s contributions to the evaluation community in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Evaluation, and we are working with his family to establish a scholarship in his name. Details on how to donate to the scholarship are forthcoming.
Please see the obituary as shared by George’s family here.
This week, we recognized Giving Tuesday, global generosity movement unleashing the power of radical generosity. As an AEA member, we ask that you join this movement and make a gift to support AEA as we evolve and prepare for the future. Every gift we receive, regardless of the amount, plays a critical role in assisting programs that are vital to the culture and mission of AEA.
Your donation can go towards:
Make a donation today.
Thank you for participating in Eval21 Reimagined. The event was a great success and we hope you enjoyed learning alongside your peers and connecting with evaluation professionals from across the globe.
All attendees have access to session recordings through January 31, 2022. Take time during the holiday season to watch sessions you might have missed or relive some of your favorite moments.
Did you miss Eval21 Reimagined? You can still register to access all session recordings. Visit the conference website to register and learn more about the event,
EvalTalk has returned! We invite all AEA members to subscribe to the online, members-only discussion forum.
EvalTalk offers a space for connection, idea-sharing, and discussion on the AEA website. To join the community, log into your AEA account and visit this page. We look forward to new discussions with our community, to be moderated by Dr. Vidhya Shanker. Register now for EvalTalk.
As an AEA member, you have access to a library of online learning opportunities through the Digital Knowledge Hub. The Digital Knowledge Hub features free Coffee Break sessions from the past few years and discounted access to in-depth eStudy presentation, Eval21 workshops, and Introduction to Evaluation 101 online course.
Most Recent Digital Hub Offerings:
Learn more about other AEA member benefits.
In need of a new podcast series to listen to during your workday, commute, or just for fun during your free time? The AJE podcast series dives deeper into selected articles published in American Journal of Evaluation (AJE). Each episode will include an interview with the author to uncover insights form each article.
Start listening now!
AEA members can receive a 20% discount off of select Oxford University Press social work and research method titles when they order through the website www.oup.com/academic using the discount code AEA20.
Guilford Press is happy to offer AEA members a 30% discount off the list price of all Guilford titles—plus free shipping (U.S. & Canada) to enhance their work, teaching, training, and research. To see new and recent books, visit your special page at: www.guilford.com/aea. Receive the 30% discount and free shipping by using the promotional code: AFAEA.
AEA members can receive a 20% discount off Routledge products by ordering through the website using the discount code AEA20. Of particular interest to AEA members may be the books in the Comparative Policy Evaluation series (Ray C. Rist, Ed.), most recent title: Changing Bureaucracies: Adapting to Uncertainty, and How Evaluation Can Help – Burt Perrin and Tony Tyrrell Eds.).
The Digital Knowledge Hub is an online platform featuring professional development opportunities for evaluators, by evaluators. There is still time to register for Eval21 workshops! Explore the remaining sessions below. Spots are limited, so register now for one of the following spots:
Eval 21 Workshop: Design and Conduct Sound Evaluations Using the CIPP Evaluation Model
Eval 21 Workshop: Supporting Emerging Evaluators: Building Capacity for Evaluation Dissertations, Theses, and Culminating Projects
Looking for a crash course in evaluation? Purchase the Introduction to Eval 101 on-demand course!
Created with the assistance of Tom Chapel, Chief Evaluation Officer for the CDC, Eval 101 provides an overview of the evaluation framework. This hands-on, self-paced eLearning course uses case studies and simulations to teach the step-by-step framework for program evaluation. The tools and insights learned from Eval 101 will empower you to use evaluative thinking effectively and make an immediate and practical impact on your evaluation practice.
What's new this month in the AEA Online Career Center? The following positions have been added recently:
AEA would like to welcome those who have recently joined the association. Click here to view a list of AEA's newest members.