Tuesday, December 19, 2023
Embracing a Year of Renewed Connection: A Focus on Member Engagement
As we stand at the threshold of a new year, it is with great excitement and anticipation that I reach out to each of you, the heartbeat of our thriving association. The past year has been transformative, challenging us to adapt, innovate, and evolve. As we reflect on the journey behind us, we recognize the power of our collective spirit and shared commitment to AEA’s mission.
In the spirit of growth and progress, I am thrilled to share our renewed focus on member engagement—a cornerstone of our association's success. Our members are the driving force behind the vibrant community we have built, and as we look ahead to 2024, we are committed to enhancing your experience, ensuring that each member feels valued, connected, and inspired.
Here are some exciting initiatives we have planned to foster a deeper sense of engagement:
This upcoming year is an open canvas, and together, we will paint a picture of connection, collaboration, and shared success. Your engagement is the catalyst for our association's continued growth and impact.
Thank you for being an integral part of AEA! Here's to a year filled with meaningful connections, shared accomplishments, and a stronger, more engaged community.
Wishing you a joyous holiday season and a prosperous New Year!
Face of AEA: John Baek
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Education
Degrees: BS, MEd, PhD
Years in the Evaluation Field: 12
Joined AEA: 2011
Why do you belong to AEA? Why I belong to AEA has changed over the years. When I first joined, there was so much I didn’t know about evaluation. My training was in education research, and I only had one evaluation course. Learning the craft of internal evaluation is not something taught in schools. AEA’s probably one of the only places to learn from others as a professional. And then I found it a place to devote some of my energy to helping support and build communities of evaluators. It doesn’t happen magically; it requires a lot of effort by a lot of volunteers. I find the more I invest in our AEA community, the more I get out of it personally and professionally.
Why do you choose to work in the field of evaluation? I’ve worked in a lot of jobs and left a lot of fields. Evaluation turned out to be the right fit for me. It’s about helping people with their programs and their data but also being a thinking partner. It’s supporting people in their improvement journey. I like the more practical application of research, but also being on the programmatic side of things. The value of our work comes not in publications or precision of valid methods, but in the impact of our work in society and the people we serve.
What's the most memorable or meaningful evaluation that you have been a part of? The most memorable was when I visited a partner organization of ours. I sat with the Director of Education in a room for 12 hours straight trying to deeply understand their program portfolio and their organizational mission. By the end we had a theory of change and how evaluation activities aligned with it. We ran it by the founder of the organization and found that those two didn’t agree on a fundamental assumption of the kind of impact they were set up to accomplish. It was a real aha moment for them. That realization seemed to help galvanize the core beliefs. And to this day I still see that theory of change in their annual reports and marketing materials.
What advice would you give to those new to the field? Learn your craft, there is a lot to learn about this field. Every day is an opportunity to read something, watch a video, or talk to someone. There is always a new idea or new tool to try. Lock in your learning by spending time on reflection. It’s too easy to move on to the next task, adjust your workflow to spend time reviewing what worked and what didn’t.
Anything additional you would like to share with the AEA community? Check out your local evaluation affiliate. Especially those who work remotely or independently, it's a great way to access the community of evaluators around you. For those looking for professional growth and leadership learning opportunities, affiliates are always looking for volunteers. You get to learn skills outside of your evaluation practice like volunteer management, event planning, professional learning, financial management, technology management.
By: Katie O’Toole, Consultant for Evaluation Policy Task Force
In the final months of 2023, the federal government has taken various steps to integrate data and evidence, including evaluation, into management and program functions.
This month, the American Evaluation Association signed onto a consortium letter in support of enabling robust use of data and evidence, including evaluation, in federal grants. The letter is in response to proposed revisions to sections of the Guidance for Grants and Agreements, which provides guidance for grant management and implementation to all federal agencies, from the White House Office of Management and Budget. The revisions include important clarifications related to costs for data and evaluation as well as increased focus on importance of data and evaluation in program development and implementation. AEA’s signature and collaboration on the letter places emphasis on the use of evaluation to improve federal grants as part of a broader statement to bolster the use of data and evidence across the federal grantmaking ecosystem.
Also in December, AEA participated in the request for public feedback on the development of a coordinated federal strategy to identify and address gaps in science, data, and research related to environmental justice issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. AEA’s response elevates evaluation, stakeholder engagement, and cultural competence to ensure they are fundamental components to an appropriate research process related to advancing environmental justice across the United States. To support these points, the letter references a previous public statement from AEA on including Indigenous Knowledge as data and evidence to inform decision making as well as AEA's Evaluation Roadmap for a More Effective Government, Statement on Cultural Competence, and Evaluator Competencies.
Additionally, of note, in November, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management published a new competencies model for evaluation in the federal government, taking steps toward fulfilling a requirement of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act).
The past year has been full of activities related to data and evidence-building in the federal government. Certain topics were highlighted for AEA members, including the evaluation priorities included in the President’s Budget Request in the spring and the call for evaluation for evidence-building in the Administration’s priorities for research and development in FY 2025. AEA also weighed in on various federal actions, including the revision of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Program Evaluation Framework – a wide-reaching, crucial tool that informs evaluation efforts across policy areas – and the development of research priorities for the new Technology, Innovations, and Partnerships Directorate at the National Science Foundation. The EPTF welcomed four new members, and had the opportunity to connect with AEA members and provide a more in-depth update on our activities at the AEA Conference in the fall.
Looking to the new year, there will be continued opportunities for the American Evaluation Association to build upon this momentum to ensure evaluation is an integral function of the federal government. The EPTF looks forward to what 2024 will bring!
Graduate Education Diversity Internship Program
Applications for the 2024-2025 GEDI program will open in January 2024. The GEDI program provides paid internship and training opportunities during the academic year. Have questions about being a GEDI intern or host site? Join GEDI Program Leadership as they discuss the GEDI program experience and answer your questions. This is an excellent opportunity to get an inside perspective on what it is like to be a scholar/host site and the expectations. Learn more on the GEDI webpage.
Prospective Scholar Webinar
January 17, 2024 | 1:00 PM ET
Prospective Host Site Webinar
February 7, 2024 | 1:00 PM ET
Minority Serving Institute Program
Interested in the Minority Serving Institute Program? AEA will be accepting applications for the 2024-2025 academic year. Applications will be open January – March 2024. The 2024-2025 MSI cohort will participate in webinars, orientation, and Evaluation 2024. Learn more on the MSI webpage.
AEA hosted the first annual virtual U.S. Student Case Competition this past summer. A total of 16 teams—74 total graduate students supported by 28 coaches—competed by developing an evaluation proposal for the Indiana Humanities’ case on the Advancing Racial Equity Collection Development (ARECD) program. Our winning team went on to come in 3rd place at the World Evaluation Case Competition.
Thank you to all who joined us in Indianapolis for Evaluation 2023! It’s time to relive the conference, or see what you missed, with free access to the following Plenary session recordings:
You can continue learning in-depth from Dr. Randal Pinkett with his recent book, Data-Driven DEI: The Tools and Metrics You Need to Measure, Analyze, and Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This book closely ties with the messages he shared at the AEA conference. Order the book here.
American Journal of Evaluation
Congratulations to Dr. Rodney Hopson and Dr. Laura Peck, who have been appointed as the new co-editors of the American Evaluation Journal. In addition, the AJE has a robust editorial team to support the production of each issue.
Citizens and Evaluation: A Review of Evaluation Models (Open Access)
Digital Evaluation Stories: A Case Study of Implementation for Monitoring and Evaluation in an Australian Community Not-for-Profit
Research on Evaluation Influence in India: Theorizing Beyond Process and Results to Design
New Directions for Evaluation
Congratulations to Dr. Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead and Dr. Sarah Mason, who have been appointed as the new Co-Editors in Chief of our publication, New Directions for Evaluation.
NDE Releases Issue on Evaluation and Artificial Intelligence
Explore the promise and potential pitfalls of embedding artificial intelligence into evaluation practice in the most recent issue of New Directions for Evaluation, Evaluation and Artificial Intelligence! In this issue, authors explore how evaluators might practice in an AI-enabled world.
Articles examine where artificial intelligence came from, potential implications for the evaluation workforce, criteria for evaluating the use of AI in evaluation, and offer practical examples of AI being used in evaluation practice. Articles also explore how questions of ethics and equity underpin the use of AI in evaluation.
All AEA members have access to NDE issues! Access full text NDE articles here using your AEA password.
Share your accomplishments with AEA! We are excited to introduce the AEA Publishing Corner, which will spotlight work published by our members. If you have a recent publication or professional accomplishment you would like to share, please submit it here.
Congratulations to Gail Vallance Barrington and Beverly Triana-Tremain who recently published Evaluation Time A Practical Guide for Evaluation. This book is published by SAGE Publications.
Congratulations to AEA member Asha Balakrishnan, who was appointed to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Committee on Sustainability. Asha is the Assistant Director at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, one of the three federally funded research and development centers operated by the Institute of Defense Analyses (IDA). Learn more.
AEA Focus Group eLearning Course
Course Facilitator: Rhonda Williams, PhD
Have you ever been tasked with obtaining feedback from a group of stakeholders? Do you have an interest in improving your strategies for focus groups? Have you thought about improving the coordination and planning for others to share their thoughts?
Purchase the Focus Group eLearning Course to:
Introduction to Evaluation 101
Introduction to Evaluation 101 is designed to teach you fundamental evaluation skills, allowing you to maximize the use of your evaluation and drive it home for the end user.
Purchase the Introduction to Evaluation 101 eLearning Course to:
AEA members receive discounts from certain publishers. Use the special codes below during your next purchase:
What's new this month in the AEA Online Career Center? The following positions have been added recently:
What's new this month in the AEA Online Career Center? The following positions have been added recently:
Explore the Online Career Center
AEA would like to recognize and thank some of its most longstanding members. Click here to view individuals who are celebrating 5+, 10+, 20+, and 30+ years with the association this month!
AEA would like to welcome those who have recently joined the association. Click here to view a list of AEA's newest members.
AEA is a professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of evaluation in all its forms.
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