AEA Newsletter: June 2020

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Pivot for Success

From Anisha Lewis, AEA Executive Director

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Tough times call for tough decisions. From city lockdowns, record-breaking unemployment rates, remote work to home schooling…we are experiencing disruption to life and business like we have never seen. It is no secret that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a significant impact on the association industry. We originally thought things would go back to normal, but months later, we are still far from normal. Organizations are now in a position to shake things up and pivot by redesigning product offerings in order to thrive.

The hardest felt impact on associations is the halt of in-person conferences and meetings due to safety restrictions. AEA shares this same plight, and as a result, has decided to pivot our focus on developing a virtual program for our annual conference, and to rebook our conference that was scheduled to be in Portland to 2024.

Despite the COVID-19 backlash that we are experiencing, we remain strong and confident in our ability to keep momentum by repurposing some of the content scheduled for our live event for digital consumption! We know that our annual conference is highly valued, and serves as a culminating event for much of our work. Our team is diligently working at planning a virtual conference experience to offer an opportunity for professional development and virtual networking.

COVID-19 has given us lemons, but it will not leave us with a sour bite! We are using this opportunity to explore and find success in new and unique possibilities! We are pivoting some of our resources to invest in digital meetings that will offer a subset of the annual conference experience. This includes a small number of educational sessions, professional development workshops, poster sessions, exhibits, and networking opportunities. 

Pivoting may sound easy, but it can be a difficult experience as we strive to reinvent products and services that will maintain value. This means a need for members to be receptive to change, and under the current environment, this means adapting our organization to a new set of regulations and safety protocols. All this while trying to keep our cash flow moving to support our operations to ensure that AEA remains fiscally sound.

Pivoting is necessary for AEA to ensure staying in the game in the long run. Our leadership and staff teams are working collaboratively to ensure success with confidence and the belief that this change will bring a brighter future ahead. Your support is appreciated as we aim to provide alternative opportunities that will meet your needs, within AEA’s values.

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Featuring Kim Handloser

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Name: Kim Handloser

Affiliation: Oregon Program Evaluators Network (OPEN)

Years in the Evaluation Field: 7

Joined AEA: 2013

 

Degrees:

  • MS Psychology — Health Behavior Research & Evaluation
  • MPH — Health Promotion, Education & Evaluation
  • BS Psychology
  • BA Comparative Literature

Why do you belong to AEA?

I first joined AEA in 2013 as a new student in the evaluation program at Claremont Graduate University (CGU) because that was the assumption of what we would all do as students new to the program. What I found was a community that has felt like a blend of home and celebrity sightings. There is professional and leadership development, learning and socializing from the best evaluators in the field, and the opportunity to collaborate with researchers and specialists across domains. Even after seven years, I have not even begun to touch all the resources and opportunities to be involved.  

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

I actually did not know the field of evaluation existed until I went to CGU for graduate school as part of the dual program to earn masters’ degrees in psychology and public health. I hate to admit it, but I was one of those students who did not realize psychology degrees came with a co-concentration in evaluation until I started classes! I quickly realized how fortunate I was to be part of this field, as it allows me to explore questions like a researcher, yet I feel it is more engaging or can have a more direct impact than the field of research.  

Not all my work is in evaluation, but evaluation is in all my work. Regardless if “evaluator” is in the job title, I bring an evaluator lens to the positions I hold in order to see areas for improvement in processes or outcomes. I choose to work in it and apply it to the work I do because I believe it is important to continuously improve and refine our programs, policies, work environments, and structures so that ultimately people and the environment have a shot at the best outcomes.

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

Projects can be memorable or meaningful for different reasons. For instance, I truly value collaborating annually on the cyber security Scholarship for Service program at Cal State San Bernardino with my colleagues from CGU, Phung Pham, and Heather Codd. I’m energized by what I learn – or relearn! – from them about evaluation and the relationship we have built through the years.  

An example of work I found meaningful was with Riverside County, analyzing and reporting on data in their behavioral health department. I used the tools I learned as an evaluator to create reports that provided useful data to the primary stakeholders and clearly told the stories and experiences of staff and community members using the services.

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

I advise those who are new to the field to join AEA and your local affiliate, become involved, and take advantage of all the learning and leadership opportunities. Take some time to explore the websites, attend events and webinars, use the resources, and join committees. I would also encourage student and early career evaluators to seek out internships where you can develop applied skills and make connections. Take advantage of any chance to network or improve your skills by joining other professional or business organizations, career development or alumni groups through your university, Toastmasters, and continuing education.

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Ask AEA: We Want to Hear from You

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? AEA welcomes you to participate in our new series: Ask AEA.

The only way to grow in your profession is by asking questions. And we want to provide our members with as many resources as possible. 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.

 Submit your questions here.

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Online Presentations: It's Time to Up Your Game

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator 

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Online presenting is here to stay — for a long time, at the very least. I’m sure some of you anticipate never returning to an office as some companies and institutions determine remote work is just as productive or cost-effective as on-site work for some (if not all) departments. For others now returning to offices, reality may be accepting a back-and-forth scenario between offices and homes for long periods of time over the next few years.

In April’s column, I offered tips for looking and sounding your best online. In May, my article focus was on changes I make when taking what was originally designed as an in-person presentation to an online one.

This month, let’s talk about upping your online presentation game. To be effective in an online environment, your message, design, and delivery must encourage your audience to limit distractions (e.g., turning off sound and notifications on other devices). You must create engaging content so that they’re motivated to ignore distractions that do come in.  

Part of engaging your audience will be about when to appear on camera and when to show slides or other visuals. Alternating between the two is one strategy. Creating compelling slides is another.

Tell A Story

To create compelling slides, learn to tell a story within your slide’s content. How can you do this? Use animation. Yes, I know long ago, you learned two rules to avoid:

  • Don’t use silly animations like having text cartwheel in and bounce out on one slide and fly in and checkerboard out on the next one.
  • Never use animation on a webinar.

I’m here to tell you that:

  • You CAN learn to use animations and transitions with intention and that still support your story. It’s not just about selecting one from the bunch and applying it to text, but rather using it skillfully to apply to visual elements to demonstrate something like a flow of ideas, a process, etc.
  • You CAN use animation in a webinar. It still doesn’t work quite as well as during a live presentation. There is often a slight delay and animations may not look quite as smooth as they do in a live presentation. But don’t let this stop you!

A Starting Point

If you have Microsoft 365, you have the new Morph and Zoom tools. Start learning and exploring with them.

If you have an older version of PowerPoint, spend some time learning about animations and transitions. Look for the subtler ones (like fade or wipe) and test them out on a few slides. Learn about timings and other adjustments you can make in your animation pane to customize your presentation and make the story come to life.

Fabulous Resource

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Where can you go for help? Try Bright Carbon Presentation Design Agency’s free resources and masterclasses. Check out their events page for upcoming classes and scroll through their recent blogs for articles on all things presentation. Type “animation” in the search box and you’ll be rewarded with dozens of blogs on tricks for using animation professionally. You may want to start with learning about masking effects (no, not THAT kind!).

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 p2i@eval.org and let’s talk! I’m happy to help, offer guidance, or collaborate on any of these.

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AEA June Board Update: Diversifying the Evaluator Pipeline

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

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In May and June, our work as the board continues through virtual gatherings structured to allow us to go deeper into the conversations and reflections needed to make decisions that further align us with our Ends Policies, Guiding Principles, and stewards of AEA sustainability. In transparency, the global pandemic, as well as greater awakening of the impacts of systemic and structural racism particularly anti-black and indigenous, made clear to the board that we could no longer take an incremental approach to change. Some of the decisions made in this past month reflect that clarity and commitment.

AEA Treasurer, Felicia Bohanon, facilitated training on the board’s fiduciary responsibilities and our executive director Anisha Lewis provided an in-depth analysis of AEA’s financial performance to date, with attention to the impact of the COVID-19. Staff and board reviewed different scenarios and paid attention to controlling spending to manage the impact in AEA’s 2020 and 2021 budget. Collectively, we are focused on managing AEA’s resources while maintaining “mission critical” functions. We are fortunate that SmithBucklin (our management company) had the resources and skills to support us to be more virtually adept and do crisis management.

In late May, working with the Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF), the board approved a public statement in support of the independence of inspectors’ general. In early June, the board and our executive director also prepared and shared a public statement on systemic racism, denouncing racism and affirming AEA’s commitment to dismantling racism and systems of oppression while creating healing and safe spaces to build bridges toward a more equitable, democratic, and just future.

Furthering the work toward our diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, the board affirmed its continued support of the Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI), with the goal of diversifying the evaluator pipeline. GEDI is a mission-critical program, and its contribution to evaluation is significant and in-line with our ends policies.

The board also paused to review the awards process and EvalTalk. This was not easy, and we know that timing was not ideal. We appreciate the efforts and energies of all who have been participants in both; AND we also realize that for many, those efforts and experiences were either not transparent enough or did not seem consistent with what we say AEA is or aspires to be.

We are rapidly developing work plans to best determine our next steps, as this pause affords us the opportunity to rethink the why, what, and how for both awards. Additionally, to create a strategy that includes a space for communication and collaboration on evaluation and on issues of AEA that brings us into the 21st century. This communication strategy will also support improved engagement between, and among AEA’s Board and members. 

Respectfully,

Tessie Catsambas

AEA Member Spotlight: A Q&A with Asha Balakrishnan

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Asha Balakrishnan, a research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), is one of four recipients of the IDA 2020 Larry D. Welch Award for Best External Publication. This award, established in 2011, honors individuals whose external publications exemplify General Welch’s high standards of analytic excellence and relevance. Read a Q&A to learn more about Asha, her accomplishments in the field of evaluation, and her involvement with AEA.

Congratulations on your award! What does winning the IDA 2020 Larry D. Welch Award for Best External Publication mean to you?

It’s pretty exciting to have won this Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) award. My colleagues and I believe that gaining a better understanding of the micrometeoroid debris environment (the topic of the paper) is an important area of research, and the fact that it has garnered attention from our organization and the broader community is terrific.

How has your membership with AEA helped in your career?

When I started my career in science policy 13 years ago, I knew nothing about the world of evaluation. However, over the past several years I have had the opportunity to learn from very skilled colleagues and practice doing evaluations — particularly for research and development (R&D) programs. The skills gained from conducting evaluations has been valuable across all my projects and tasks at IDA’s Science and Technology Policy Institute — not just evaluation projects. Evaluation helps you to think about a problem systematically. It’s inspiring to be part of a professional organization that has such an impact on the evaluation community. The benefits AEA offers to its members are outstanding.

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

I work very specifically in the field of R&D evaluation, having done some work in evaluating STEM programs. I think understanding how we fund R&D is fairly straightforward, though not always easy without good data. However, how we understand the outcomes and impacts of that R&D funding is a really tough problem — not impossible, but hard. I guess I like working on these hard problems.

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

About a year ago I led an evaluation of a Department of Defense STEM scholarship program. It was a three-year project where we had access to interesting data, which allowed us to do some in-depth analyses. The team was incredibly talented, and we learned so much from that evaluation. I believe it offered the program managers many insights as well.

What advice would you give to those new to evaluation?

Evaluation is really something you have to learn by doing. Learning theory and taking training courses are helpful, but it is definitely one of those fields where you have to be creative with the data, access, and funds you have to do the work. AEA provides numerous networking and educational opportunities for members to gain knowledge in the field and learn from other professionals.

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 www.oup.com/academic 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 info@eval.org.

    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 info@eval.org.

    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 cstokes@eval.org.

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    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 (cstokes@eval.org) to share news, updates and articles for consideration in an upcoming AEA newsletter.

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    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. Learn more.


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    Digital Workshops Tailor-made for Your Summer Schedule 

    The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many in-person events to cancel, include the Summer Evaluation Institute. Even though we cannot meet in-person, we can still learn and connect with each other in a format that is safe and cost effective. We are happy to bring you five unique workshops that were scheduled to take place at the Summer Evaluation Institute this June.

    AEA staff worked with accepted Summer Evaluation Institute presenters to identify workshops that can conform to a digital learning experience. These digital workshops provide opportunities to have meaningful discussions with your peers, ask presenters questions to work through challenges, and learn first-hand from experts in the field. 

    Digital Workshops:

    You Built it. Why Won't They Come? Evaluation Capacity Building

    When: Wednesday, July 22, 12:00 pm EDT

    Presenter: Jasmine Williams-Washinton, Ph.D. and Michelle Revels, MA, Senior Associate

    Price: Members: $150; Nonmembers: $200

    Including costs of programs can help your evaluation get funded, read, and used.

    What evaluation capacity building is:

    • The role of the evaluation capacity builder;
    • Challenges associated with doing evaluation capacity building “in place.”
    • Proven effective strategies for evaluation capacity building;
    • How to build effective relationships that encourage organizations to use the resources; and
    • How to create a narrative around evaluation that will encourage people to take advantage of evaluation capacity building activities.

    Learn more.

    Visual Note-Taking 101: Encouraging Dynamic Participation through Visual Storytelling

    When: Wednesday, August 12, 12:00 pm EDT

    Presenter: Katherine Haugh

    Price: Members: $150; Nonmembers: $200

    Including costs of programs can help your evaluation get funded, read, and used.

    Research shows that visual note-taking is not only an effective learning tool, but also that visuals increase levels of employee engagement in the workplace. In this session, participants will learn about the basics of visual thinking and how to apply visual note-taking techniques to strengthen the use and application of their evaluation work. The session will teach participants how to use visual note-taking as a reflection, communication, and facilitation tool. In the session, participants will learn how to draw out basic concepts and ideas and how to tell a visual story with simple shapes, symbols, and visual cues. Participants will walk away from the session with the ability to use visual note-taking to boost retention of evaluation concepts, develop creative ideas by drawing connections, and share knowledge quickly and effectively.

    This session has been designed using principles of adult learning in order to optimize the learning experience for session attendees and will be led by a facilitator with over a decade of professional experience in visual-note-taking and facilitating.

    Learn more.

    Adding Costs to Help Your Evaluation Get Used: Cost-Effectiveness and Cost-Benefit Analyses for Health and Human Services 

    Presenter: Brian T Yates, Ph.D

    Price: Members: $150; Nonmembers: $200

    Including costs of programs can help your evaluation get funded, read, and used.

    Including costs of programs—to consumers as well as providers and taxpayers—can help your evaluation get funded, read, and used. Also evaluating the monetary outcomes (aka “benefits”) of programs, such as reduced client use of health services and increased client productivity and income, can further influence decision-makers. Incorporating consumer, provider, and funder costs into cost-effectiveness, cost-benefit, and cost-utility analyses provides the foundation for calculating cost per Quality-Adjusted Life Year Gained as well as Social Return On Investment (SROI) estimates. You will finish this workshop knowing what "cost studies" all too often are, and what cost-inclusive evaluation can be. Examples from real evaluations of substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, and health as well as mental health services, are used throughout.

    Learn more.

    View the full Summer Series schedule

    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:

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    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.
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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 cstokes@eval.org.

    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 cstokes@eval.org.

    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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