Maximizing Opportunities for Member Engagement
From Anisha Lewis, AEA Executive Director
Members are the lifeline of the American Evaluation Association (AEA). Our key efforts are focused on providing you with the competencies, opportunities, and community to positively influence the evaluation community and fulfill our mission.
As a member, you are an owner of this association, which makes your engagement crucial. It is key that our members interact and share in the experiences that are created for them, as well as have a voice in creating their own experiences. Under our governance structure, the board leads and the staff facilitates. However, it is through member engagement that our leadership and staff receive feedback on content for programs and initiatives.
Below are some highlighted opportunities for member engagement:
Don’t miss your opportunity to exercise your right to vote for the leaders who will represent you on the AEA Board of Directors! Voting is now open through July 31.
Have you considered becoming a leader of AEA? Many members don’t realize that national board leadership opportunities are open to all members. There is a misperception that a member must be nominated by someone in order to submit an application for office. The reality is that members can self-nominate to be considered for the elections slate. The slate for the ballot is then determined by the Elections Committee and approved by the Board of Directors.
Sustaining our leadership pipeline is crucial for the future of AEA! That is why we are in our second year of offering a leadership informational session at our Eval2019 conference! For those who are not able to attend the conference, we will offer the session via a recorded webinar.
Joining a Topical Interest Group (TIG) is one of the best ways to maximize your opportunities to collaborate and network with other members who share your interests. AEA has 60 TIGs that address many facets of the evaluation community.
We also encourage members to join their local affiliate which provides an excellent opportunity to impact the local community. Our TIGs and Local Affiliates offer several opportunities to network during our annual conference! We hope that you will take advantage of this time to collaborate with your peers.
We are always seeking volunteers to join working groups to inform content development of programs and initiatives that further our mission. Our commitment to access and inclusion is paramount, so our volunteer process is equitable in that we ask interested persons to respond to the official “Call for Volunteers” that is sent via Eblast to all members.
All volunteers must submit an application. Selections are made based on matching criteria with willingness to serve, skills, and abilities. In the spirit of sustainability, we will also leave space on working groups for those who may not meet all of the criteria, but want to learn and develop skills so that they are prepared to be future AEA leaders.
Be on the Lookout!
We will be sending announcements in mid-July for volunteers to join a newly forming Diversity Working Group, the Professional Development Working Group, and a Moderator for EvalTalk.
AEA is strong thanks to our continually expanding community who comes together to donate time, resources, and talent in support of our mission. Members of our National Board, staff, Task Forces, Working Groups, Topical Interest Groups, Local Affiliates, and others all contribute to our achievements. We are thankful for their steadfast work to sustain AEA’s position as a pillar of the evaluation community. It is up to us to stay engaged to ensure that AEA remains strong and continues to flourish!
Featuring Kathy Kiser
Name: Kathy Kiser
Affiliation: Lincoln Park Zoo
Degrees: MPA, BA Sociology
Years in the Evaluation Field: 9-10 years
Joined AEA: 2011
Why do you belong to AEA?
Being a member of AEA is a great way to connect with other evaluators. AEA also provides valuable resources that help me to continue learning and growing within the field of evaluation.
Why do you choose to work in the field of evaluation?
I think that originally the field of evaluation found me more than I chose it. I decided to stay in the field of evaluation because I truly enjoy what I do. I like that my day to day work as an evaluator is always changing, depending on the project I’m working on. Being an evaluator pushes me out of my comfort zone, challenges me to think creatively, and provides opportunities to learn about topics outside my scope of expertise. Finally, I enjoy learning about the experiences of others and being able to contribute to positive change.
What is the most memorable or meaningful evaluation you have been a part of?
This is a difficult question because each project has been meaningful in a different way. I have also worked on projects across several different fields which makes it hard to compare. I would say that the most meaningful projects have come since being in the field of informal learning and especially projects that involve teens, whether in programs within my organization, in communities, or as participatory research partners.
What advice would you give to those new to the field?
Learn to embrace your failures. It’s not just about not being afraid to fail but welcoming failure as part of your evaluation journey and being willing to share those experiences with others.
The Face of AEA features the association's members - sharing their background, why they joined and what some of their most memorable experiences have been. Know someone who should be interviewed? Email the AEA editor, Cady Stokes, at email@example.com.
From Matt Feldmann, Jennifer Bellville, Asma Alie, and Tom Grayson
Several Midwestern local affiliates have created a Speaker Exchange where experienced presenters from one affiliate travel to another affiliate to present a workshop. The St. Louis, Chicago, Indiana, and Milwaukee affiliates have coordinated these efforts to provide cost effective professional development experiences for our members. The Speaker Exchange gives our local members with expertise access to present to diverse audiences and strengthen their presentation skills. Overall, this collaborative has provided added value to our local affiliate members and organizations while supporting deeper relationships with other local affiliates.
As affiliates of the American Evaluation Association, we – Matt Feldmann [Evaluation Association of St. Louis (EASL)], Jennifer Bellville [Indiana Evaluation Association (IEA)], and Asma Ali [Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA)] – have had opportunities to collaborate with each other and with evaluators from across the nation through AEA’s Local Affiliate Collaborative (LAC). The LAC, with the support of AEA, facilitates regular calls, an AEA pre-conference session, and an annual affiliate breakfast, among others. These spaces have helped provide us with the platforms to have conversations around strengthening and growing our affiliates, which led to the Speaker Exchange.
Our collaboration began with conversations about creating a Midwest affiliate Speaker Exchange. This conversation started during the LAC annual breakfast in DC in 2017, where LAC co-facilitator Leah Neubauer recalled a story of hosting Michael Quinn Patton in her home during his presentation to the Chicagoland Evaluation Association. We replicated this idea through a regular exchange of speakers between EASL, IEA, ¡Milwaukee Evaluation!, and CEA. Trading speakers has allowed us to strengthen what we offer to our affiliate members by sharing resources (i.e. speakers) and providing cost-effective workshops that:
- Offer broader and deeper evaluation professional development to our members
- Provide a forum for more experienced evaluators to present and share their expertise across our affiliate network
- Strengthen the field of evaluation across our states, including launching EASL as an AEA affiliate in September 2018
The Speaker Exchange is fairly simple and requires few resources. Two affiliates agree to send speakers to each other’s organizations to conduct a 2-4-hour workshop or presentation. The presentations have covered a range of topics including Evaluating Training Programs, Consulting Skills for Evaluators, and Culturally Responsive Evaluation. The sending affiliate provides their speaker for free, with the expectation that a presenter will come to their home affiliate (also for free). Often the receiving affiliate will offer to host the traveling speaker (usually at a member’s house), which provides opportunities for networking and limits travel costs.
In addition to broadening our professional development programs, the exchange has created a closer-knit community among the Midwestern affiliates and has expanded into other program sharing across the Local Affiliate Collaborative. During the 2018 LAC pre-conference, affiliate leaders from across the nation came together to share resources, challenges, and successes. The gathering provided a forum for further discussions about leveraging programs across the LAC network. As a result, in 2019, several local affiliates piloted a virtual speaker exchange where an affiliate hosts a virtual presentation that is accessible to both their members and local affiliate network (e.g. Data UX via CEA, Causal Link Monitoring via Washington Evaluators). We are thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with affiliates from across the U.S. and look forward to finding additional ways to strengthen the field of evaluation in our states and beyond. For more information on this article or to participate in the local affiliate Speaker Exchanges feel free to contact any of the following:
- Matt Feldmann, firstname.lastname@example.org, 618-751-2807 (Evaluation Association of St. Louis)
- Jennifer Bellville, email@example.com, 847-606-6208 (Indiana Evaluation Association)
- Asma Ali, firstname.lastname@example.org, 312-399-8881 (Chicagoland Evaluation Association)
- Tom Grayson, email@example.com
If you’re interested in connecting with an AEA local affiliate in your area, see the full affiliate listing: https://www.eval.org/affiliate.
Federal Data Strategy Offers Opportunities for Evaluation – and Comments from the Evaluation Community Are Needed
From Nick Hart, chair of the Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF)
As part of the Trump Administration’s “President’s Management Agenda” the federal government is developing a federal data strategy aimed at improving how data are made available and used for a host of activities – including evaluation.
In June 2019, the White House Office of Management and Budget announced a final set of principles and practices, which all federal agencies are expected to incorporate into how they operate over the next decade. The principles feature ethical governance, conscious design, and learning culture as guiding values. The combined principles and practices were developed with feedback from federal agencies and non-governmental stakeholders over the past year.
In June, OMB also announced a draft action plan for the next year that will begin to shift how government manages its data. The action plan includes 16 items, such as establishing agency data governance groups, developing data inventories, and producing learning agendas.
Members of the evaluation community are invited to provide feedback on the draft action plan and there are multiple avenues to do so. Written comments can be provided directly to OMB by July 8. The evaluation community also has the opportunity to provide feedback directly to the team developing the action plan in a Public Forum, jointly sponsored by OMB and the Data Coalition. Any member of the American public can RSVP here as a speaker or plan to attend the forum in-person.
Throughout the process of developing the federal data strategy, OMB has demonstrated an enthusiasm for seeking public comments – and worked to incorporate public feedback on the strategy. The evaluation community should seize the opportunity to participate in this important process and provide feedback about the priorities and needs for evaluators over the next year.
Topical Interest Group (TIG)
From Sue Ann Corell Sarpy, Phung Pham, Steven Hansch, and Hema Bhatt
The mission of the Disaster and Emergency Management Evaluation (DEME) Topical Interest Group (TIG) is to facilitate communication and support professional monitoring and evaluation activities that enhance disaster and emergency mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. We strive to share evaluation approaches, issues, practices, concepts, and theories related to disaster and emergency management.
Disaster and Emergency Management Framework
This figure represents a commonly accepted framework for disaster and emergency management.
In recent years, our DEME TIG members have been involved in a broad array of evaluation projects including community resilience, environmental contamination monitoring, Ebola response, hurricane relief, humanitarian aid, and more.
One example of DEME work is the evaluation of a Citizen Science Training Program for environmental monitoring in the Gulf South of the United States. In the aftermath of a disaster, communities often lack information about environmental contamination that could be used to guide prevention and recovery activities. Historically, communities have depended upon government and other institutions to collect environmental data, analyze results, and communicate findings in meaningful ways. Along this chain of events lie multiple points where conflict may occur between community needs and institutional actions or where communication, in general, can break down. The emergence of community-led citizen science, where lay individuals or non-experts lead or participate in data collection and research activities, offers great promise for promoting equitable, cross-boundary collaborations—fostering scientific literacy and empowering community-based actions around environmental risks.
The Citizen Science Training Program was designed to build organizational capacity and enhance community health and well-being through promotion of citizen science in coastal Louisiana communities. Specifically, the training program was aimed at creating a network of citizen scientists for environmental contamination monitoring, creating avenues for communication and dissemination of project activities to stakeholders, and strengthening collaborative partnerships to enable sustainable networks for knowledge, skills, and resources.
The program focuses on development of community-led science as a tool for education and community action and integrates grassroots and institutional partnership mechanisms for training and technical assistance. A utilization-focused evaluation was designed to assess training program content, administration, effectiveness, and benefits from the perspective of the community and academic and practice partners. This multi-stakeholder, multi-method evaluation also evaluated the program’s intended outcomes (e.g., increased scientific literacy, greater community involvement). Social network analysis was included to examine the existing and developing relationships among participants. Moreover, this evaluation and its resulting evidence were used to enhance the relevance and impact of disaster response training programs and help guide related policy development. The evaluation of a Citizen Science Training Program for environmental monitoring in the Gulf South is just one example of the wide variety of evaluation projects that DEME members are currently involved. For more examples, please (re)visit New Directions in Evaluation Volume 2010: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/1534875x/2010/126
The DEME TIG is intended to be national and international in scope, fostering a global dialogue. We welcome your support in expanding and diversifying this conversation!
Submit an Article or Update for an Upcoming AEA Newsletter
Sharing is Caring: My List of Favorite Photo (and Icon) Sites!
From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator
By now you've probably heard the advice to feature fewer words and more visuals on your presentation slides. It’s the key idea of the Design component of the Potent Presentations Initiative (p2i). You probably also know that it’s good practice to create separate handouts for audience members that include all the relevant text you want them to take away from your presentation.
So, what goes on the slide instead of text? What do we mean by “visuals?” Visuals can include:
Today, I’ll focus on finding the first three: photos, illustrations, and icons.
Finding good imagery your presentations can be challenging. You know you need to avoid cheesy stock photos (if I see one more photo of shaking hands to illustrate collaboration…), overused images and clichés (like the dartboard to illustrate goals? No, just no.), but how do you know where to find the good ones? A Google search of “free stock photos” returns over 95 million results, and new sites seem to pop up daily. Then, there’s the question of inclusivity, especially when it comes to photographs of people.
Representation Matters, one of the recommended sites on my list asserts, “Traditional stock photography sites offer images that almost always feature young, thin, white, able-bodied people. Does that really reflect the dizzyingly diverse array of people we see around us every day?”
In adding to my list of favorite photo sites, I look for ones that specifically focus on diverse groups. Each has a different number of photos available, and some tend to take a little longer to explore and sift through (e.g., Flickr) than others. Some feature more landscapes and architecture than people (e.g., Unsplash) and one (Librestock) is an aggregator that searches other photo sites.
Obtaining and Using Stock Photos (and Icons)
Many have free photos available as well as paid ones, and subscription options (especially the icon sites). Two important points to keep in mind are:
- “Royalty-free” does not mean the photograph is free to you. Read up on what this concept means.
- Each of these sites feature photos or icons with different licenses (e.g., Creative Commons) and parameters for use. Some licenses allow you to manipulate the photo, while others do not. Some allow for commercial use while others do not. Each site will have a place where you can read about these to understand use and attribution requirements. You must give attribution where it is required!
Drum Roll Please…Here are the Lists!
My favorite (Mostly) Free Sites for Stock Photography:
- Create Her Stock - https://createherstock.com/
- com - https://www.disabilityimages.com/
- Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/
- Gender Spectrum - https://broadlygenderphotos.vice.com/
- LibreStock - https://librestock.com/
- Morguefile - https://morguefile.com/
- Nappy - https://www.nappy.co/
- Pexels - https://www.pexels.com/
- Pixabay - https://pixabay.com/
- Representation Matters - http://representationmatters.me/
- Unsplash - https://unsplash.com/
- Women of Color in Tech - https://www.flickr.com/photos/wocintechchat
My Favorite (Mostly) Free Sites for Icons:
- Flaticon - https://www.flaticon.com/
- Iconfinder - https://www.iconfinder.com/
- IconArchive - http://www.iconarchive.com/
- Noun Project - https://thenounproject.com/
Do you have a favorite site that is not on my list? Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me why it’s your favorite!
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 email@example.com and let’s talk! I’m happy to help, offer guidance, or collaborate on any of these.
AEA Members, the annual AEA election is NOW OPEN! You will be able to vote for a slate of director and officer candidates between June 26 and July 31.
Did you miss the meet-the-candidates forums? View the video recordings and learn more about this year’s election here.
Save the Date for These Virtual Town Halls in July
The AEA Board of Directors would like the opportunity to engage more with AEA members and discuss a variety of strategic and visionary topics with the membership. The virtual Town Hall approach allows a regular opportunity to pose strategic questions and topics to the membership for input. Take a look at some past webinars.
Please save the date and register for the following Town Hall session taking place this July.
AEA Town Hall: Member Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion within AEA
July 19, 2019 | 2 p.m. Eastern Time (ET)
Join host Jara Dean-Coffey in this Town Hall to learn about AEA’s efforts and prioritization of diversity and inclusion. During the town hall panelists, including AEA’s own Anisha Lewis and MIE and LA Red TIG leaders, will overview AEA’s work and progress toward these goals, discuss the diversity of values of AEA members, and invite additional perspectives to contribute to this important work. Register today.
On-Demand Resources Available
From the AEA Education Team
The Digital Knowledge Hub is an online platform featuring professional development opportunities for evaluators, by evaluators. Check out prerecorded eStudies now available for purchase, including ones like eStudy 097: More Than Two Options: How to Collect LGBTQ Inclusive Data.
Events for AEA Members, Suggested by AEA Members
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Third Biannual Western Balkans Evaluation Conference, Belgrade, Serbia – Call for papers
Submissions Due Monday, July 15
Western Balkans Evaluation Network is organizing the Third Biannual Western Balkans Evaluation Conference, which will be held on October 25 and 26, 2019 in Belgrade, Republic of Serbia.
The title of the conference is, "Evaluation – The Need or the Necessity?" The aim of the conference is to enhance the evaluation capacity building in the Western Balkans and to ignite the discussions about theoretical and practical aspects of evaluation at the regional level and internationally.
The submitters are encouraged to present:
- Methodology, findings and recommendations of the evaluation reports in Western Balkans,
- Contemporary methodologies for evaluating or assessing impacts,
- Theoretical and practical aspects of evaluation culture and evaluation capacity building,
- Intertwining of science, evaluation and public management in programming, monitoring and learning.
The organization invites submitters to send the papers of max. one A4 page (Word), either in one of the regional languages (Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Montenegrin or Northern Macedonian) or English to:
The deadline for submission is Monday, July 15 2019, 23:59 CET.
The participation fee for the selected submitters is 50 EUR.
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.