AEA Newsletter: December 2020

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A New Way of Being

From Anisha Lewis, AEA Executive Director

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As the curtain draws on 2020, we look forward to the hopes and aspirations of things to come in the new year. Hopes of being able to safely connect with family, friends and colleagues, restoration of jobs, funding, indoor entertainment and live conferences and meetings, to name a few.

2020 has taught us many lessons, but for associations, one of the most important lessons is accepting a new way of being. Our “normal” may never be the same, and as such, our new way of being may become our new normal. Working remotely, virtual conferences, virtual education, weddings, family reunions, and concerts were all the rage this year. Our society learned to adapt to new tools in order keep moving forward. As an association, we were forced to “think outside of the box” to deliver quality programming and services to members. We also used this opportunity to focus on the activities and initiatives that are valued by the membership, and are mission critical.

The American Evaluation Association will welcome 2021 with a renewed commitment to member engagement and a focus on gathering data to inform our decisions about programs, benefits, and services.  Members will have an opportunity to complete the bi-annual member satisfaction survey; but unlike past surveys, this one will be tailored to capture how programs and services are valued. Your voice is important, so please look for the survey launch at the end of January!

We also look forward to the debut of the new AEA website and a new membership database. As promised, we will resume EvalTalk, AEA’s community discussion forum, which will now be moderated and hosted on our integrated communications platform to allow for better management of the discussion threads. AEA members can also look forward to town hall meetings that are designed for engagement and greater transparency about important decisions that affect the association.

As we look toward 2021, we need to be prepared to ride the waves of change, and reengineer our efforts to focus on innovation and activities that contribute to achievement of our mission statement. Navigating in uncertain circumstances requires us to be an organization that focuses on continual learning and adapting as needed. Thanks to the many member volunteers who serve AEA, and will be key in the development of our navigation strategy.

Thank you for choosing to be a member of AEA. We look forward to hearing from you via our membership survey, town hall meetings, member polls and other avenues.

Wishing you all a safe, happy and prosperous new year!

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Align to Design in 2021!

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator 

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I’m hoping the stars and planets will align for 2021, making it a better year for all of us. Of course, we can’t control the alignment of the stars and planets, but we CAN align objects on our presentation slides!

Visually appealing and compelling presentation slides (and infographics…and reports!) adhere to basic principles of graphic design. Alignment is an important and foundational principle. Let’s explore why.

Why Alignment?

Alignment unifies your design, makes it more visually appealing, and gives it a more organized, balanced, and finished look. Whether you have textboxes, images, shapes, or icons on your slides, you’ll need to determine how they will be aligned. Objects can be left/right aligned, top/bottom aligned, or center/middle aligned. Typically, we use more than one type of alignment in any design.

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Good infographics for example, will often demonstrate the power of alignment because they tend to feature multiple elements – text, numbers, pictures, graphs, shapes, etc. Just Google “infographic” and click on “images” to explore how designers use alignment to create compelling infographics.

Did You Know: PowerPoint has Alignment Tools?*

These wonderful and easy-to-use tools allow you to make your textboxes, shapes, icons, and photos perfectly aligned to one another. To align objects, click to highlight the objects you want to align (hold down the “shift” key to select multiple objects), then look for the “Arrange” icon on the ribbon and find “Align” options under that.

Grab whichever align tool you need – left, center, right, top, middle, or bottom – and let it work its magic! You can even distribute a set of objects horizontally or vertically for even more precise placement.

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But Wait, There’s More!

Use PowerPoint’s built-in grids, guides, and Smart Guides for even more help with aligning objects on a slide.

Of course, there’s more to great slide design than just alignment. As you look for inspiration, pay attention to other graphic design principles, such as how whitespace, color, and hierarchy are used. Look for coherence and consistency among design elements and how objects are oriented. Ask yourself this: How does the designer attract and manage the audience’s attention? What’s going on that makes this slide, infographic, or report visually interesting? What draws the audience in and makes them want to learn more?

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Check out these articles for more on PowerPoint’s alignment tools:

*Yes, you can find similar alignment tools for Google Slides or Keynote!


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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Walking and Talking Along the Values Path

From Jennifer AH Billman, Ph.D., HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College 

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 Eric, the school’s headmaster, and I sat at the edge of the road overlooking the soccer field where approximately 100 youths engaged in small-sided matches to determine the tournament’s winning team. Over the course of the week, Ghanaian and American educator-coaches conducted soccer skill development sessions, refereed matches, taught life-skill lessons, and provided nutritional support to participants. Concurrently, local healthcare staff conducted free health and vision screenings. Wondering the true impact of our now five-year partnership, I asked Eric if it was making the difference he desired in his community. He responded with a story.


As evaluators, we often stand between funders and communities, tasked with translating the stories of lived experiences into data familiar to funding organizations, many of which are grounded upon euro-western notions of reality. Yet, as Ketoe Ikeda reminds us, “In the local world around me, there is a completely different reality,” and these differences can lead to misrepresentations of program impact if we don’t value “high quality, ethically defensible, culturally responsive evaluation practices,” (Reference: AEA values i & ii). Aware of this and as cofounder of Soccer Outreach Services, I returned to graduate school to educate myself on the challenges and potentials of intercultural collaborations and the evaluation thereof.

This mid-career pivot in engaging evaluation beyond higher education (where I have served as a biology professor for 27 years) introduced me to AEA, and in 2017 I attended my first AEA conference. Although overwhelmed by the enormity of the conference, I personally experienced AEA’s commitment to “welcoming members at any point in their career, from any context” (Reference: AEA value v). Here I was, a scientist-evaluator, presenting on Evaluating Sport for Development Programs in Africa: Rethinking the Relevancy of Western Tools — I felt welcomed.

That same year, upholding its commitment to “a global and international evaluation community and understanding of evaluation practices” (Reference: AEA value iii), the AEA conference welcomed the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA). Frustrated by the challenges I experienced in locating evaluative approaches outside of the euro-western framework, networking with AfrEA representatives put me in touch with evaluators in the global community and introduced me to Made in Africa Evaluation. Making this introduction so early during my engagement with intercultural evaluation proved to be a critical step in my own development and evidence of AEA’s commitment to the “continual development of evaluation professionals” (Reference: AEA value iv).

Yet, as a relatively new AEA member, I soon realized that welcoming a full “range of thought and approaches” (Reference: AEA value v) in evaluation and supporting the “development of evaluators from under-represented groups” (Reference: AEA value iv) is much more challenging than welcoming evaluators from different career backgrounds and at different stages of professional development. Indeed, I had stepped into AEA at a critical time in the organization’s development, where questions regarding the operationalization of AEA’s core values sparked lively (and often heated) discussions.

Organizationally, AEA values are “efficient, effective, responsive, transparent, and socially responsible association operations” (Reference: AEA value vi). Over the last three years, I have seen evidence of movement toward greater embodiment of this value. However, I am left wondering if/how we are evaluating our progress on operationalizing our own values. Previously, Dana Wanzer reflected on her need “to sit down and think through what my personal values were and how I would embody them in my everyday life.” Perhaps, what this year of turbulence and trauma has taught us is that we cannot delay personally and organizationally evaluating how we embody our values in everyday life. While many of us are undertaking this work on a personal level, for macro-level insight, launching an evaluation of AEA’s operationalization of its values seems an apt next step to take.


As our sport programming expands into surrounding towns, Eric and I often leave behind the commotion of the camp and clinic, stepping out to walk the surrounding land together. On these walks, we greet residents and gain an understanding of the local context, all the while discussing our shared desire to work for “the enhancement of the public good” (Reference: AEA value i). These walks serve as a living reminder to me that Walking the Talk fundamentally requires Walking and Talking together, for it is during these conversations that our espoused values come alive.


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A Brief Review of Advances in Federal Evaluation Policy in 2020

From Nick Hart, AEA Evaluation Policy Task Force Chair

As the year comes to a close, it’s worth noting that considerable progress was achieved in federal agencies advancing the field and practice of evaluation. With the new Evaluation Officers identified in many federal agencies, as required by the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, agencies have now developed interim learning agendas and evaluation plans. For many agencies, these activities are new, but they hold promise for producing rapid advances for evaluation production and use.

Also noteworthy, in March 2020, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget published standards and practices for evaluation as guidance required under the Evidence Act. The standards include relevance and utility, rigor, independence and objectivity, transparency, and ethics. These new federal standards align closely with the American Evaluation Association’s An Evaluation Roadmap for a More Effective Government, re-issued in late 2019.

In August 2020, the federal government launched a new federal Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building. The committee is composed of 30 experts on government data use, including evaluation experts and federal evaluation officers. It is charged with providing advice on improving the government infrastructure for engaging in evidence-informed policymaking. The committee has now convened in public session three times and recently announced topics for its next two meetings. In January, the committee will hear from federal statistical agencies and federal evaluation units and in February, the committee will hear from chief data officers. More information on the committees work is available at

Finally, the Advisory Committee is also requesting public input through a formal Request for Comments published in the Federal Register. The request includes specific questions and individuals in the evaluation community are encouraged to submit their suggestions and perspectives before the Feb. 9, 2021 deadline.

As AEA’s work continues to promote and encourage capacity for evaluation inside federal agencies, AEA members are invited to provide suggestions to AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force at

Board Update: December 2020

From Tessie Tzavaras Catsambas, AEA Board Secretary and Immediate Past President

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Dear AEA Members,

We are so proud of our staff and AEA President Aimee White who put together a well-managed online event, and we are appreciative of you, our members, who showed up and supported our community! We missed seeing each other, but we adapted to the circumstances made the best of it. Thank you.

December was busy for the board with important transition rituals. We were delighted to welcome our incoming board members: 2021 AEA President-Elect Veronica Olazabal, and Members-at-Large Xiaoxia Newton, Maurice Samuels and Guili Zhang. Below is a photo from our online New Board Member Orientation. Thank you to members for exercising their vote, and congratulations to our new board members!

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We also held our AEA Presidential Rotation two-day meeting, where Aimee White began the passing of the gavel to 2021 AEA President Tom Grayson, and Veronica Olazabal received an orientation to her 2021 role as President-Elect. We are committed to being a strong and collaborative presidential rotation team that works productively with our Executive Director Anisha Lewis and our staff.

Also this month, our President-Elect Tom Grayson consolidated the board agenda for 2021 based on the collaborative agenda building work of the board that began in the November Board meeting.

Finally, we held our last board meeting where we said goodbye to outgoing board members Eric Barela, Jara Dean-Coffey, Bianca Montrosse-Moorehead, and me (Tessie Catsambas). As we leave, we feel honored to have been able to serve you. Our board experience was an enriching one; we worked hard and, throughout our service, retained a strong sense of responsibility to you, our members. The time of board service is short and intense, and we best serve you when we work together to build on the best of the past and embrace a compelling vision for our beloved association. We are confident that we leave the AEA in excellent hands — your AEA Board 2021 under the leadership of Tom Grayson, alongside our Executive Director Anisha Lewis and the amazing AEA staff.

2020 showed us that the AEA can manage and weather such difficult times. We are a resilient community, and hope to be a thriving professional community in years to come.

We wish you all a great holiday season, and may 2021 bring good health, successful immunizations against COVID-19, and economic relief to all those who have suffered this year.


Tessie Catsambas
Past President and Board Secretary

AEA at 35: Meeting the Moment

From Tom Grayson, AEA President-Elect

Untitled design - 2020-12-22T084006.701.pngIn 2021, the American Evaluation Association celebrates its 35th anniversary. It is a time for us to celebrate and also to reflect on our past.

AEA’s first conference in 1986 was described at the time as exciting, energizing, and optimistic as it went about meeting its first moment of change. The conference theme, What Have We Learned, referenced the merger of the Evaluation Network (ENet) and the Evaluation Research Society ERS. At that time, evaluators were challenged by methodological issues as well as by social issues such as education, urbanization, and equal rights for all.

Today, 35 years later, evaluators are still being challenged as we work to create new ways of designing and conducting evaluations that effectively address today’s realities, such as gender inequality, racial inequality, healthcare disparities, global warming, ageism, and cultural disparities, just to name a few. These realities will require transformational systems change that will reshape our practice of evaluation. The good news is that we remain excited, energized, and full of optimism as we meet the moment of today’s challenges.

Motivation for us evaluators was offered in 2004 by Michael Scriven in his reflections on his work in evaluation:

“In my view, one of the most important questions professional evaluators should regularly consider is the extent to which evaluation has made a contribution to the welfare of humankind and, more generally, to the welfare of the planet we inhabit – and, while we are at it, to the welfare of the other celestial bodies we are beginning to invade.”

The 2021 conference theme is AEA at 35: Meeting the Moment. Thus, we are called to reflect on our past and current work in evaluation as we meet today’s moment. So, let’s begin to prepare for the conference, where we will have an opportunity to share our thoughts and our evaluation strategies as to how we are contributing to the welfare of humankind, our planet, and other celestial bodies. Let’s prepare to share our ideas about how we can create new ways of designing and conducting evaluations that involve innovations in partnerships, businesses, education, social services, the private sector, development agencies, donors, academia, and any other area of concern touched by our work.

Together, let's get ready to celebrate 35 years as we "Meet the Moment". 

Announcing: Launch of IDPEx Spring Courses 


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The world’s premier evaluation education program, the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Evaluation (IDPE) at Western Michigan University (WMU), is pleased to announce the launch of IDPEx. IDPEx provides online access to advanced, world-class graduate-level courses taught by some of the field’s leading evaluation educators, scholars, and practitioners.

IDPEx courses use a combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods and WMU’s advanced online learning platform. Three courses are being offered for Spring 2021 and are described below. The fee for each 15-week course is $1,000. To register for one or more of the courses, go to Each IDPEx course is designed to serve as continuing education units for those in the evaluation field and all participants will receive a certificate of completion.

For further information about IDPEx, please visit, or contact the director of the program by email at

Measurement for Evaluators: Measurement is one of the most often misunderstood and, simultaneously, difficult aspects of evaluation practice. Synonymous with inferences from samples to populations, measurement involves inferences from observations to constructs; though samples too are involved in measurement. Measurement theory is predicated on both evidential (empirical) and consequential (use) premises. In this course, students will learn the concepts, principles, and practices of both classical and modern measurement theory. Specifically, students will learn instrument development and analysis, how to construct cognitive and noncognitive items, item analysis for cognitive and noncognitive items, methods for estimating and assessing reliability (e.g., internal consistency, test-retest, alternate forms), interrater reliability and agreement, generalizability theory, and how to obtain and assess evidence for validity. Advanced topics such as exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, item response theory, standard setting, bias, and equating will also be discussed. R and/or RStudio will be used for most statical applications.

Metaevaluation: Metaevaluation is prescribed as a tool to inform evaluation quality and accountability as well as being useful for evaluation research. This course is intended to introduce students to the concept of metaevaluation and get them steeped in an understanding of it. Graduates of this class will understand the concept well enough to be prepared to participate in metaevaluations, to interpret its value for the future of evaluation, and to contribute to research on metaevaluation. Through readings, discussions, presentations, class projects, and writing assignments, this course will familiarize students with historical perspectives on metaevaluation and evaluation’s current and future role in shaping the dialogue.

Research on Evaluation: Considering the amount of evaluation work being done in the world, and the widespread efforts to establish a strong discipline of evaluation, there is still a relative paucity of research on evaluation (RoE). This course is designed to improve on that issue by exposing students to the different types of RoE and using that understanding to develop new research proposals. In this project-based course, students will develop an awareness of the research on evaluation landscape and identify and plan opportunities for contributing to it. Students will locate, read, critique, summarize, present, and discuss a broad spectrum of recent published RoE and formulate a detailed proposal for conducting their own RoE study and present the proposal for critique.

Call for Proposals – Independent Evaluation of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) Programme

The Executive Secretariat for the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), based at the World Trade Organization is looking for qualified firms with experience in the evaluation of trade-related programmes and/or policies to submit their proposals for undertaking the 2021 EIF programme Evaluation.

The EIF partnership of 51 countries, 24 donors, and eight partner agencies works closely with governments, development organizations and civil society to assist least developed countries (LDCs) use trade as an engine for development and poverty reduction. With the operational period of the current phase of the EIF concluding in 2023, an independent programme evaluation is being commissioned to assess the overall performance and impact of the programme since its inception.

The terms of reference and other related information on the call for proposals are posted on the United Nations Global Marketplace (UNGM). Proposals are due by the January 12, 2021, 14h00 Geneva time ( 1:00 p.m. CT) at the latest. Further information on the process is also available at here and about the EIF at

An Update on AEA's Daily Blog: AEA365

AEA's daily blog, AEA365, is currently experiencing service interruptions due to a network issue. Some users may have difficulty posting comments to AEA365 or experience a disruption in access to the blog website at this time. Our team is working diligently to resolve this issue and we hope to have the blog back in order shortly.

Please note that upcoming blog posts that were unable to be scheduled will be rescheduled for a later date. We thank you for your patience and understanding at this time.

Special 30% Discount on All Guilford Press Products for AEA Members

Guilford is happy to offer American Evaluation Association members 30% off the list price of all Guilford titles—plus free shipping (US & Canada) to enhance your research, teaching, and professional development. Just go to our AEA member page to receive your special discount: Guilford Publications AEA member page.

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.

Student eStudies:


January Workshops:

AEA is excited to present ten workshops inspired by Eval20 Reimagined: A Virtual Experience! These workshops will take place through our Digital Knowledge Hub throughout November, December, and January.

When: January 8

Presenter: Mahrukh 'Maya' Hasan

During the COVID-19 pandemic did you struggle to transition to remote-based work? Are the tools and platforms you've used just not able to meet the needs of you or your audiences? This workshop is for any level of participants, whether you are just starting out in your career as an evaluator or you've been at it for a very long time. If you're looking for resources and a practical tool to make a transition to highly collaborative, enjoyable and above all effective virtual work, this workshop is for you.

When: January 12

Presenters: Stephanie Baird Wilkerson & Anne Cosby

Infographics can be used to communicate evaluation information in an effective and engaging way. This workshop will cover infographic basics, best practices, and practical tips for using low-cost tools to produce well-designed infographics for a variety of evaluation stakeholders.

When: January 15

Presenters: Dana Linnell Wanzer, Ph.D. & Tom McKlin, Ph.D

R is becoming an increasingly popular statistical analysis software for evaluators and researchers because of its free nature and increasing number of resources available on how to use R. This workshop will provide a hands-on opportunity for evaluators to learn how to conduct basic statistical analyses in R using RStudio with example data. 

Workshops require separate registration on the Digital Knowledge Hub. 

When: January 12 & 22

Presenters: Mindelyn Anderson, PhD, Mirror Group LLC; Kristine Andrews, PhD, Child Trends; Paul Elam, PhD, MPHI; Tracy Hilliard, PhD, MPHI; LaShaune Johnson, PhD, Estella Lucia Evaluation LLC

The field of evaluation is being challenged to utilize a process that considers who is being evaluated and who is conducting the evaluation. MPHI has worked to develop useful frameworks, tools, and approaches that evaluators could consider to focus on the ways that race and culture might influence an evaluation process; this has resulted in the development of a framework for conducting evaluation using a culturally responsive and racial equity lens. 

Workshops require separate registration on the Digital Knowledge Hub. 

View complete schedule.

See more live courses here



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.

Here are a few Coffee Breaks you might be interested in

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AEA Events of Interest

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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