AEA Newsletter: April 2017

Message from the Executive Director

Spring is Here—Summer Institute, PD Opportunities and New Opportunities

By Denise Roosendaal

Denise_Roosendaal_111811_144.jpgSpring usually brings change—the blooms, the pollen, the itch to get outside. The change for AEA this spring is a new location for the Summer Institute. While the previous location was cost effective, it no longer met the needs of a growing attendee base—in 2016 that number grew to 584! Therefore, we have selected a new location and designed a new look/theme for this year. The Summer Institute for 2017 will be held at Omni Hotel at the CNN Center in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. This new location offers plenty of room for more attendees and additional offerings.

Two new additions to the content include:

  • A Pre-Conference offering by The Evaluators' Institute on the topic of Culture and Evaluation. This course will provide participants with the opportunity to learn and apply a step-by-step approach to conduct culturally responsive evaluations. It will use theory-driven evaluation as a framework, because it ensures that evaluation is integrated into the design of programs. The workshop will be led by Leona Ba.
  • A new workshop on the topic of Social Impact Measurement and Evaluation, led by Veronica Olazabal and Karim Harji, the chair and co-chair of the new Topical Institute Group, on the topic of Social Impact Measurement.

Other topics include data visualization, low-cost tech tools for evaluation, communities of practice, training evaluation framework, process maps, logic models and so much more. To learn more about other workshops being offered, visit the website:

There are also many new professional development e-studies this spring that you’ll want to check out, including:

We are also introducing a new format called Lunch Break. These one-hour sessions are just the right size (in between the 20-minute coffee break format and the more intensive three-hour e-studies) for topics that need a deeper dive but can be presented in a shorter timeframe. The premiere Lunch Break, June 15 and 22, will be on the topic of Getting Published led by AJE and NDE Editors. More information to come soon.

Sometimes change is bittersweet. Gail McCauley, AEA’s Operations Manager, will retire this month and head into new opportunities of her own. She has been with AEA for approximately three years. We appreciate her dedication, professionalism, and diligence on AEA programs and projects. She will be missed by the team and members alike.

Another change is an addition to the team—Milos Popovic. He joins the membership and operations team as an Associate.  He attended Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service with a major in international politics. He has led his own non-profit to benefit autistic children in his hometown in Serbia and is quite excited to be joining the AEA team.



African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) Conference, Kampala, Uganda

From Donna Podems

In March, the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) held its 8th conference in Kampala, Uganda. The 687 delegates in attendance represented more than 70 countries, with the United States having the third largest attendance after Uganda and Kenya. The conference offered delegates 60 workshops and 19 session strands. Forty-two donors, including AEA, supported the event.

In particular, AEA, in partnership with the South African M&E Association (SAMEA), organized and sponsored the strand on Professionalizing Evaluation. A prominent point of discussion throughout the meeting concerned the challenges faced by voluntary organizations for the professionalization of evaluation to address and support the Sustainable Development Goals. Multiple sessions in the Professionalizing Evaluation strand focused on ongoing efforts around the world to support professionalization in evaluation.

Jim Rugh, Donna Podems, Robin Miller, Kathy Newcomer

AEA President Kathy Newcomer, Cindy Clapp-Wincek, AEA representative to IOCE and EvalPartners, and former AEA board members, Robin Lin Miller and Donna Podems, attended the conference through AEA’s Peer-to-Peer Grant program on behalf of AEA. Kathy Newcomer was one of seven international leaders who addressed delegates at the opening plenary, speaking on how evaluation can be used to promote socially just societies and encourage those societies to be reflective.

AfrEA President Adeline Sibanda and AEA President Kathy Newcomer

AfrEA President Adeline Sibanda and AEA President Kathy Newcomer

Robin Lin Miller and Donna Podems offered a one-day course on evaluation theory to help inform ongoing discussion within AfrEA about developing evaluation theories made in Africa, and whether and how Western theories might be adapted to the African context. Robin was so engaging that a monkey perched on the windowsill to listen to her talk about how practice can improve theory and how theory can support practice! Robin and Donna continue to work with the workshop participants by email to support their exploration of theories and models that are pertinent to the participants’ practice.

Robin and Donna’s workshop supported one of AfrEA’s conference themes, Made in Africa. Other sessions on the theme explored how to draw on and give recognition to ways of knowing and conducting evaluation that are rooted in non-western contexts and cultures. Cindy conducted a peer-to-peer discussion that supported the Made in Africa theme within the Conflict and Fragility strand.

AfrEA Conference8th AfrEA International Conference 2017

The U.S. Department of State provided AfrEA a grant for the Conflict/Fragility strand and to develop a guide on local African solutions for monitoring and evaluating democracy, human rights, and governance programs.  A community of practice will conduct three monthly webinars to further explore these topics. The webinars will be led by a French-speaking African evaluator and by Cindy.

The conference allowed AEA and AfrEA to strengthen their relationship. Kathy, Cindy, Robin, and Donna look forward to greeting their new African friends and colleagues at AEA’s conference in November, and to providing them with the same level of warmth and hospitality generously extended to AEA’s delegates by AfrEA.

To learn about the AfrEA conference, click here and below:




Potent Presentations Initiative

P2i Site and Resources Gaining Attention!

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator

If you're regular follower, you know that last month marked the relaunch of the newly organized p2i website at:

We were pretty excited to get the job done and start sharing the great news and resources, and others have already started to take notice. P2i received a couple of great “shout outs” recently from other organizations.

Check these out:

The waiting game… If you submitted one or more proposals for Evaluation 2017, you know how hard it is to wait for that acceptance notice in summer! While it may feel premature to start crafting your message or designing slides, now is a perfect time to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with our treasure trove of p2i tools and resources. Download a few today and start thinking about how you might use them.

New tools! New tools! We’re putting the final polish on a handouts tool that will be available soon, and a guidance tool for using images.

What other tools or resources would you like to see on the p2i site?

p2i tools.png

We need your help!

  • Have you successfully used p2i tools or p2i principles in your presentations?
  • Do you have “before” and “after” slide examples you would be willing to share?
  • Do you have ideas for, or are you interested in writing a blog article on Potent Presentations?
  • Do you have an interest in sharing your tips for Potent Presentations through a brief video or webinar?

Please contact me at and let’s talk! I’m happy to help, offer guidance, or collaborate on any of these.


AEA Values

Walking the Talk with Sena Pierce

Sena Pierce.png

I’m a relatively new evaluator with just over five years of professional practice under my belt. Since my first dip into the evaluation pool, AEA has been a rock to stand on, a means of connecting with colleagues near and far, and a place to learn. Right now, I’m figuring out a new job, completing my Ph.D., and working with my Hawai’i evaluation crew to put on our best conference ever. The connection point between all of these changes and responsibilities is my identity as a professional evaluator. At points of transition, it’s good to reflect; I’m going to take this opportunity to reflect on my own practice as an evaluator and as a leader in my evaluation community, using the AEA Value Statements as a guide.

High quality, ethical, culturally responsive evaluation. I’m in that awkward stage of knowing enough about evaluation to get an inkling of how much I don’t know. A few years back, a colleague summed it up well saying that evaluation is a professions where you must always be learning and adding to your toolbox. There is no point where you can say, "OK, I’m there. I know everything I need to know."

However, within that journey, there are experiences that push you to learn more quickly. I experienced that recently taking a new position within a Native Hawaiian serving organization with a mission to ensure a thriving Hawaiian people. I needed to learn quickly what culturally responsive evaluation looked like in practice and, specifically, what this concept might look within my organization. However, my biggest lesson within that experience was that cultural responsiveness and inclusivity practices embedded within the AEA values are essential in all situations, not just those directly involving individuals coming to the table with different cultural values. In reality, we’re always working with groups coming to the table with different values and the prominence of cultural responsiveness in AEA values is absolutely necessary and something I’ve come to greatly value. 

Continual development of evaluation professionals. In addition to being an evaluator in transition, I’m also the current president of the Hawaiʻi Pacific Evaluation Association (H-PEA). Since its inception ten years ago, H-PEA strives to connect Hawaiʻi’s evaluators with opportunities to further their practice. One of the groups we support is graduate students interested in program evaluation. Our smart and dedicated H-PEA committees have come up with new ways to engage this group by soliciting and offering scholarships to cover students’ registration fees.

This year we went further and will be inaugurating a poster contest with an award named in honor of Lois-elin Datta, a long-time supporter of H-PEA. The goal of these efforts is to expose new and up-and-coming evaluators to learning opportunities both within our walls and through our networks. Due to our location, it can be difficult for evaluators in our state to pursue professional development outside of the islands, both for cost and time needed to travel. Taking the AEA value of continual development to heart, I will commit to work with our H-PEA ʻohana to provide new and relevant learning opportunities to our community in these islands, recognizing it may be one of the only development opportunities for evaluators available.

Reflection is essential to culturally responsive evaluation and, I would argue, evaluation practice as a whole. Mahalo to the AEA community for providing me this platform to reflect on my own practice and for providing the values and guiding principles that help define us as professionals.

Sena Pierce is cheerleader for program evaluation and helps promote its practice as an internal evaluator with educational programs in Hawaiʻi. Sharing evaluation findings with teachers and school administrators led Sena to learn more about data visualization and evaluation use, which is the focus of her dissertation currently in progress. Sena is a senior research associate with Kamehameha Schools in Hawaiʻi.


International Update

Global Evaluation Forum

The third Global Evaluation Forum will convene in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, April 25-28. The theme of the Forum is Transforming Our World Through Evaluation. To learn more about plans for the Forum, videos are posted to YouTube—including one by Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead, AEA representative to the EvalYouth Initiative, which may be viewed here:


Award Announcement

Announcing the 2016 AEA Outstanding Evaluation Award Winner

AEA honored four individuals and one organization at its 2016 Awards Luncheon in Atlanta. Honored this year were recipients in five categories who are involved in cutting-edge evaluation/research initiatives that have impacted citizens around the world. We will spotlight each award winner in upcoming issues.

In this issue, we extend our congratulations to the Office of Performance Evaluations, Idaho Legislature—Rakesh Mohan, Director, and Lance McCleve, Project Lead.

Rakesh MohanLance McCleve.jpg

The Office of Performance Evaluations is an independent, nonpartisan agency of the Idaho Legislature. Established in 1994, the office's mission is to promote confidence and accountability in state government through evaluations of state programs and policies. Although small in size—eight staff—the office has been highly effective in bringing to its legislature findings and recommendations that identify ways to improve government.

As the director of the office, Rakesh Mohan is fortunate to have staff who are committed to excellence and transparency. They carry out his vision of being responsive to the legislature's information needs while maintaining evaluator independence—two seemingly contradictory tasks in a political environment. His awesome staff are Amanda Bartlett, Margaret Campbell, Hannah Crumrine, Tony Grange, Ryan Langrill, Lance McCleve, and Bryon Welch. They use their collective skills and experiences to find creative but practical solutions to complex problems affecting the people of Idaho.

Rakesh said, “Receiving the award for the evaluation of Idaho's statewide K–12 longitudinal data system and student information system is a professional high for me and my staff. We are honored and humbled to be among those recognized with this award.”

Project lead Lance added, “Our evaluation underscored the importance of genuinely engaging stakeholders at all levels of government—policy formulation, program design, program implementation, and evaluation.”

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