AEA Newsletter: August 2020

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The Future of AEA: Taking Action

From Anisha Lewis, AEA Executive Director

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In late June, the AEA Board of Directors made the tough decision to temporarily deactivate EVALTALK and pause the discussion forum as a community benefit. This decision was made because of recent conversations on the forum that did not reflect AEA’s core values. In this instance, and in past instances, conversations reflected a degree of racism, misogyny, and disrespect that will not be tolerated by AEA.

I understand that EVALTALK was a valued benefit for many, so please know that we are diligently working on its revival in January 2021, as part of our new website. I ask for your patience, and that you allow some grace, considering that we are in the midst of a pandemic. The pivot to our virtual conference requires our immediate attention, but please know that the relaunch of EVALTALK remains a high priority.

As stated in AEA’s organizational values, we value inclusiveness and diversity, welcoming members at any point in their career, from any context, and representing a range of thought and approaches. We do not condone language or actions that are degrading, racist, misogynistic, or mean-spirited across any of our programs or offerings. When we see these offensive actions take place, the board of directors will take action.

Offensive actions include:

  • Slurs and jokes of any kind that focus on race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, or a differing ability
  • Attribution to racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual orientation characteristics that promote devaluing of any member of society
  • Promotion of anything that condones supremacy or authoritarian values (political systems and practices that devalue any member of society)
  • Display of nudity (including imagery)
  • Use of profanity
  • Use of sexually explicit language, content, or imagery

We apologize to all who were hurt, disrespected, or traumatized by the exchanges on EVALTALK. A member recently stated she would like to see AEA be committed to taking anti-racist action and being a place where learning and growth is celebrated, and people are “called in” to hard conversations where we confront the impact of our words and actions. Please rest assured that your voices are heard, and we will continue working to create an organization where all feel included and valued.

Our goal is to have a welcoming and inclusive forum, which encourages diverse and rich discussions. We are excited for a future version of the discussion forum that best serves our membership and the values of AEA.

Thank you for understanding and patience.

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A Picture is Worth... Everything in Presentations!

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator 

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I doubt there’s anyone reading this who thinks it’s a great idea to load up our presentation slides with text, especially now that most (if not all) of our presentations are being given online. Engaging audiences with powerful visual content accompanied by practiced public speaking is the way to go.

Find High Quality Stock Imagery

High quality photos are easy to find and there are hundreds of sites with free downloads and Creative Commons licenses. A few favorites include:

To see some absolutely gorgeous photography for inspiration (or if you have a gigantic budget for photos), check out Getty Images. Remember, “royalty free” does NOT mean photos are free for download.

Know What You Can DO with Photos!

Here’s one of the coolest tricks for working with photos: Explore your Picture Format tools in PowerPoint. Today, we’ll play with the Color tool. To access this tool, simply click on your picture, click Picture Format on your ribbon, and look to the left for Color and its dropdown options.

Here’s an example of what you can do with a set of unrelated pictures. Each has its own color scheme and they don’t quite go together.

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Use the Color tool in Picture Format to give all the photos the same color, or different colors within a color theme. If you have a custom color theme in your template, the Color tool will offer you options based on those colors.

Here you see I’ve worked through a number of options with this set of photos. The specific shades of blue, yellow, orange, and green that you see here are from a custom color palette I created in PowerPoint for a client project.

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Recoloring photos using the Color tool

Upper left: all sepia tone; Upper right: all blue accent color light

Lower left: each photo is colored with an accent color dark; lower right: each photo is colored with an accent color light

Once you choose the option that works best for your presentation, arrange your photos and add your text! Here, I’ve decided to have the photos in different colors, no borders or shadows, and I’ve filled a textbox with a semi-transparent dark grey; I’ve also placed a small, opaque rectangle on the left.

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The finished slide

Recoloring your photos will give your presentation a sense of consistency, sophistication, and professionalism, especially when you carry a custom color theme through to elements on other slides – text, photos, icons, graphs, and charts.

For more tips on slide design, check out our Slide Design Guidelines available for free download on our p2i Tools and Guidelines page.


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.

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Featuring Linda G. Chambers, PhD


Name: Linda G. Chambers, PhD

Affiliation: AEA local affiliate - Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA)

Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Accounting (Alabama State University); Masters of Science in Accounting (University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL); Doctor of Philosophy-Accounting specialization (Capella University)

Years in the Evaluation Field: Since 2019

Joined AEA: March 2019

Why do you belong to AEA?

AEA membership provides an opportunity to learn, network, and practice with independent evaluators.  

Why do you choose to work in the field of evaluation?

I choose to work in the field of evaluation to help improve the effectiveness of services that governmental and private nonprofit organizations offer to small business owners.

What's the most memorable or meaningful evaluation that you have been a part of?

In a recent project, I consulted with the director of a nonprofit organization to complete a logic model for the program. The project is meaningful to me because the director realized that having the logic model would help to clarify and justify funding requests for the program.   

What advice would you give to those new to the field? 

My advice would be based on my own efforts to contribute to the field of program evaluation. Being a new member to the field of program evaluation, I have sought first to understand the framework of program evaluation. Secondly, I seek opportunities to network with other evaluators. My plan also includes efforts to practice on evaluation projects with experienced program evaluators. 

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Independent Consulting TIG Update

Looking at the Broader Picture

From Melissa Mercer-Tachick, IC TIG Chair

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“Nobody, but nobody / Can make it out here alone.”

- Maya Angelou, "Alone," Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975)

In the Independent Consulting (IC) TIG, our first impulse upon pandemic onset was to reach out to one another so that we independents would not be leaving any of our colleagues behind. Some of us are truly solo, and some of us are very small shops. Others have not yet even started their businesses. Whatever we are, we tend to be potentially vulnerable socially and economically, especially if the work in our sector dries up suddenly. That has happened for some of our TIG members, so our past and present leaders quickly lined-up remote check-ins.

One led discussions about disaster relief options that might apply to our IC TIG members. Another began regular check-ins for social and business support. We’re all on journeys that take us through this trifecta of worldwide health pandemic, civil rights unrest, and economic downturn (albeit on different trajectories). As 2020 challenges have unfolded, many of our members have moved from self- and business-centered needs to being ready and able to consider the needs of our clients. I am a woman initially trained in physics who understands that not even a three-body problem is solvable; so I find the notion of modeling individual human behavior at a time like this nothing short of ridiculous. Yet, there are a lot of things for us to study and learn as we move from looking at ourselves to looking at the broader picture and preparing to help our clients. Here is what some of us are discussing in our recent IC TIG informal check-ins.

Perhaps the most striking thing we have noticed is that we must pay attention to the experiences of our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) siblings (which I intend to be inclusive, but not erasive). BIPOC citizens are experiencing the world differently where they live, in spaces colonized by majority non-BIPOC persons. For example, across the United States, arts institutions in particular have been targeted by their own staff members for internal insensitivity, white supremacist-based decision-making, and tokenism. Open letters are not just popping up in the art museum world; they have been arising in science museums and all other sorts of cultural institutions — for months.

Just pause for a moment to feel the power in this opening statement from this Latinx group: “We write as artists, administrators, curators, museum workers, and scholars who abhor anti-Black racism and serve the field of U.S. Latinx visual art. Together, we demand structural change in all art institutions to end the racist practices that have long marginalized the cultural contributions of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. We fight to enact this change, now!”

Just this past week, the Hammer Museum sponsored the first in their Reimagining the Museum series, and I would like to share part of their Associate Curator Erin Christovale's opening statement:

The art world, as we know it, is having a historic reckoning. In the midst of a global pandemic, which has caused mass furloughs and layoffs, and the growing movement for Black Lives sparked by the violent and unjust police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others, art and cultural workers are calling for an end to systemic racism, anti-blackness, and structural injustices within art institutions and museums across the nation. Art workers from around the world have collectivized and formed new coalitions, igniting the digital realm with open letters, petitions, social media accounts, op eds, and spreadsheets, calling for the resignation of leaders, defunding the police, diversifying of staff and collections, and an overall end to practices within the institution that uphold colonialism and white supremacy.

Whether or not we agree with the positions of these groups, we must listen to them and hear what they are saying. Critically, they are together to a degree we have not seen in recent history. They are taking on one another’s struggles. They refuse to leave anyone “out there alone.”

In one of my small firm's projects, the client’s leadership has made the bold and unanimous decision to place critical race theory at the center of their work in a location within the United States where they will undoubtedly face significant pushback. But the time is right for them, and we will not leave them "out there alone." It is what they need to do. So in my IC firm, all hands are officially on deck for their project. We will do whatever we can to make their bold, historic claim for justice a long-term success. 

That's the kind of work we're doing in the Independent Consulting TIG as we continue to band together in this complex time. How is your TIG working to leave nobody "out here alone"?  



Graduate Student and New Evaluator TIG Update

From Ian Burke and Olivia Szendey (Co-Chairs), and Maddison Staszkiewicz (Communications Chair)

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Who We Are

The Graduate Student and New Evaluator TIG provides a space for graduate students and new evaluators to find their light in evaluation. Our goal is to foster communication and networking among graduate students, new evaluators, interested faculty, recent graduates, potential employers, and other AEA members who wish to support the interests of our TIG. Our TIG website provides more detail about the background of the GSNE TIG.

Elevating GSNE Voices in Evaluation

Amidst the global coronavirus pandemic, the TIG saw a need for more opportunities for our members to get involved and make meaningful connections in the field. We began a virtual book club (led by Maddison Staszkiewicz), which will evolve to meet the needs of our membership over time. The average participant has 2 years of evaluation experience and primary reasons for participation were networking with peers and other evaluators, learning more about evaluation through literature, and general professional development. Some participants planned to use the book club to build a reflective practice and others hoped to engage with experienced evaluators.

If you would like to join the Reading with GSNE book club, please complete this form. Whether you are a new evaluator or seasoned professional, your perspectives will contribute to open discussions about evaluation. If you are not looking for an official involvement but want to follow along, we are using the hashtag #ReadingWithGSNE on Twitter to discuss the book in between live book club sessions. We would love to have you join us!

We have also seen several requests for additional resources, so we are in the process of updating our website to include a repository for new, young, and emerging evaluators. This is a work in progress, but we hope to release a new resources repository later this year!

The GSNE TIG serves to provide opportunities and engagement for graduate students and new evaluators, while strengthening collaborative ties between our TIG and other communities of evaluation practice. Our membership includes students, internal evaluators, evaluation consultants, and a combination of all of these and more working in various sectors. As a new evaluator and graduate student, it can sometimes be challenging to determine where to look when growing a professional community. Is there an opportunity in your TIG or professional experience that could be beneficial for the GSNE membership and elevate GSNE voices in evaluation?

Our Ask

If there is an opportunity that you would like members of the GSNE TIG to be aware of, email Maddison Staszkiewicz (Communications Chair) at This could include anything from upcoming events, opportunities for collaboration, to job opportunities for new evaluators, or anything in between. Thank you to all of those who have already shared opportunities with our membership!


Do you lead or participate in one of AEA's Topical Interest Groups (TIGs)? We want to hear from you and spotlight your work and actions you're taking amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Send an email to the AEA editor, Cady Stokes ( to share news, updates and articles for consideration in an upcoming AEA newsletter.

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 Submit Your Ask AEA Questions

Are you new to evaluation? Do you have questions, curiosities, or concerns about the industry? Are you debating career opportunities, upcoming goals, solutions to current issues, or are just seeking some friendly advice? The only way to grow in your profession is by asking questions. In our new series, Ask AEA, we want to provide our members with that opportunity by providing as many resources and guidance as possible. Answers come from our member community. Submit your questions here. 

Submit your questions for the chance to be featured in AEA's monthly newsletter. Make sure to stay up-to-date on the latest issues to receive answers to your questions from professionals in the field.

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Policy Watch: New Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building Launched

From Nick Hart, AEA Evaluation Policy Task Force

Beginning this fall, evaluators will have a new opportunity to engage on evaluation policy through a new federal advisory committee established by the Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act (Evidence Act). The committee – called the Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building – specifically includes about 30 experts with a range of backgrounds and perspectives on government data uses.

The advisory committee is expected to convene in mid-September 2020. The committee will serve as a mechanism for extending the implementation strategy of the recommendations from the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. The Evidence Commission’s recommendations were previously endorsed by the American Evaluation Association in 2017 and align with AEA’s own Roadmap for Effective Evaluation, reissued last year.

The advisory committee includes three federal evaluation officers and several other evaluation experts:

  • Len Burman, Urban Institute
  • Todd Richardson, Evaluation Officer at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Matthew Soldner, Evaluation Officer at the U.S. Department of Education
  • Ken Troske, University of Kentucky and former Evidence Commission Member
  • Christina Yancey, Evaluation Officer at the U.S. Department of Labor

One area the committee is expected to specifically consider is how the federal government can create a data service that, among other purposes, meets the needs of the evaluation community in accessing and linking administrative records.

With strong representation for the evaluation community, AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force will continue to monitor progress on the advisory committee and its work plan to identify opportunities for AEA engagement. AEA members are also encouraged to participate and join public, open meetings of the advisory committee to ensure the priorities and needs of evaluators are well-represented in the next steps.

More information about the advisory committee is available at

Eval20 Reimagined! Coming to Your Home or Office this October

Discover Eval20 Reimagined: A Virtual Experience 

Coming to your computer screen this fall, AEA is proud to announce the dates for our virtual experience: October 27-30. Since the cancellation of Evaluation 2020 due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), AEA has been working hard to create a new educational and networking opportunity that fits the digital needs of our current climate.

Eval20 Reimagined will feature 120 concurrent sessions available for live and on-demand viewing for up to three months, ample opportunities to connect with other attendees through one-on-one meeting and group discussions, and an interactive Connection Center where you can visit virtual booths of publishers, organizations, and more. 

What can you expect during the virtual experience? 

  • Change in program size: A high quality program without overwhelming users, due to a reduced education program size
  • Flexible education offerings: Enjoy diverse learning opportunities that can be accessed for three months after the event so you won't miss anything
  • Online networking opportunities: Ask questions, begin discussions, and connect with fellow attendees throughout the entire event
  • Virtual connection center: Network with representatives from exhibiting and sponsoring companies

Registration for the Eval20 Reimagined Virtual Experience will open in early September. The early registration deadline is October 9. Visit the AEA Virtual Experience website to learn more about the virtual experience and what you can expect this year. 

We will continue to update the website with details as they become available.

New Oxford University Press Titles for AEA Members

Available with AEA's Discounted Price 

Don't forget — this is of course something you should feel free to promote with your members — all AEA members can receive a 20% discount when they order through the website using the discount code AEA20.

    If you are a publisher and would like to participate as an AEA publishing partner, or if you are an author of an evaluation-related text from an alternate publisher that you would like to see participate, please contact the AEA office at

    AEA Offers COVID-19 Support and Resources

    AEA's top priority at this time is the health and well-being of its members and the evaluation community as a whole. We understand this is a strenuous and difficult time, and are dedicated to providing you with support and resources to help you navigate the evolving effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

    We want to remind you of a few of our resources to help you through this time.

    • AEA's daily blog, AEA365, is rolling out a series of Saturday posts offering reflection and information for evaluation practice during this global pandemic.

    Topics covered include Reflecting on the Role of Evaluator During this Global PandemicTips + Resources for Virtual Gatherings, and Self-Care in the Age of Coronavirus.

    Click here to subscribe to AEA365. We will continue to share resources and experiences of our community. 

    • AEA encourages you to turn to your community of peer evaluators through EvalTalk. This discussion forum provides a safe space to trade insights and concerns, talk through specific challenges that are arising, and overall, to lean on each other for support. Now is the time to maintain strong connections with colleagues worldwide as we navigate today's climate together.
    • You can also stay connected to your community through TIGs. Topical Interest Groups are defined around a certain topic or interest and create a forum enabling its members to become a resource that the entire community can leverage. This organized community and combined experience is needed now more than ever. As an AEA member, you are allowed to join up to five of the 60 Topical Interest Groups.
    • AEA continually monitors its social media channels, looking to bring forward engaging and relevant content to our community. We continue to share resources circulated by the broad evaluation community. Follow us on Twitter @aeaweb or "like" our Facebook page for timely updates and content relating to the pandemic and beyond.
    • While you are looking to stay connected to your teams, we recommend browsing the AEA Coffee Break library on the Digital Knowledge Hub. These 20 minute webinars are free to all members.

    If you have resources you think would be valuable to the evaluation community, share them with us by contacting AEA at

    Member Suggested Events 

    In this section, we spotlight events of interest to the AEA community, suggested by fellow members. Please note these events are not sponsored by AEA. If you would like to suggest an upcoming event, email Cady Stokes, AEA newsletter editor, at


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    AEA Professional Development Corner 

    From the AEA Education Team 

    The Digital Knowledge Hub is an online platform featuring professional development opportunities for evaluators, by evaluators. See eStudies available for purchase like the ones below. 

    Advance Your Evaluation Learning with AEA 

    While many of us are working from home the next few weeks, we wanted to remind you that AEA membership provides several exclusive resources to expand your knowledge in the comfort of your own home. Discover the online resources that are available and learn more about upcoming events.


    AEA eStudies

    The Digital Knowledge Hub contains live and recorded eStudies. eStudies offer in-depth lessons on trending evaluation topics, skills, and tools. Expert speakers share their experiences and offer time to answer your individual questions.

    Upcoming Live Courses:

    Student eStudies:

    Take a Coffee Break with AEA:

    As an AEA member, you have free access to our library of Coffee Breaks. These short, 20 minute webinars are great for sharing lessons with your students or other colleagues, while you are apart.

    AEA Events of Interest

    Empowerment Evaluation Webinar Workshop (II)
    Date and Time: September 25 from 1-4 east coast (10:00 to 1:00 pacific)
    Cost: $175

    This workshop is back by popular demand. If you missed it, this is your opportunity to join us. If you need a refresher, this is the place to be. The workshop meets on Zoom, migrates to Google Sheets, and ends with a glimpse into Canva (reporting software) and VirBELA (a collaborative online avatar-based learning environment). 

    The workshop provides participants with an immersive, hands-on, real-life experience conducting an empowerment evaluation remotely. In addition to presenting an introduction to the theory, concepts, principles, and steps of the approach, Dr. Fetterman invites you to participate in the process. He will provide an overview of the approach using case examples from his work at Google, Hewlett-Packard, Stanford School of Medicine, as well as with Native American Tribes, Tobacco Prevention programs in Arkansas, and Squatter Settlement communities in South Arica.

    Then you will gain experience conducting an abbreviated empowerment evaluation in real-time using Google Sheets. There is nothing like experiential educational opportunities to crystalize learning.

    2. DavidFettermanfacegreenshirtwhitesignature.jpgDr. Fetterman has 25 years of experience at Stanford University. In addition, he has served on the faculty of Pacifica Graduate Institute, University of Charleston, California Institute of Integral Studies, and San Jose State University. He is an engaging educator, providing educational experiences, professional development, and online classes for numerous professional organizations, universities, nonprofits, and governmental agencies. He is a past president of the American Evaluation Association and the American Anthropological Association's Council on Anthropology and Education. Dr. Fetterman has received the highest honors in the field of evaluation, the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Educational Research Association, and the President's Award from the American Anthropological Association. He is the author of 17 books, including Empowerment Evaluation: Knowledge and Tools for Self-assessment, Evaluation Capacity Building, and Accountability (with Kaftarian and Wandersman); Collaborative, Participatory, and Empowerment Evaluation: Stakeholder Involvement Approaches (with Rodriguez-Campos and Zukoski,); Empowerment Evaluation in the Digital Villages: Hewlett-Packard's $15 Million Race Toward Social Justice; and Ethnography: Step by Step.

    In this section, we spotlight events that may be of interest to the AEA community, as suggested by fellow members. Please note these events are not sponsored by AEA. If you would like to suggest an upcoming event, email Cady Stokes, AEA newsletter editor, at

    Member Suggested Events 

    In this section, we spotlight events of interest to the AEA community, suggested by fellow members. Please note these events are not sponsored by AEA. If you would like to suggest an upcoming event or highlight actions members are taking during the COVID-19 crisis, email Cady Stokes, AEA newsletter editor, at

    Thank You to Our Longstanding Members

    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!

    Welcome to Our New Members

    AEA would like to welcome those who have recently joined the association. Click here to view a list of AEA's newest members.

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