AEA Newsletter: March 2018

Message from the Executive Director

Leading With Passion 

From Anisha Lewis, AEA Executive Director 

“Nothing great in this world has ever been accomplished without passion.”

— George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Anisha Lewis.jpgI am truly honored to serve as the next Executive Director of the American Evaluation Association. I come to you with an educational background in Organizational Development, and over 20 years of association management leadership experience, most recently as the Executive Director of The Association of Black Psychologists (where many of the members belong to AEA).

My work is driven by passion, which fuels me to go the extra mile to do “whatever needs to be done,” no matter how great or small the task. Although I am not an evaluator, I understand and appreciate the importance of evaluation in our society, and the crucial role it plays on social impact and improving the effectiveness of policies, health care, education, non-profit organizations, human services and other industries.

As the new Executive Director, I stand on the shoulders of giants and salute the excellent leadership of AEA’s former Executive Director, Denise Roosendaal, and the outstanding AEA staff who continue to make significant contributions to the organization’s structures, programs and activities.

As the baton of operational leadership is passed, I assure you that the transition will be smooth. My immediate focus is immersing myself in AEA’s culture and core values, followed by narrow-focused priorities that will support the strategic plan, the ends statements and engagement opportunities for AEA’s diverse membership.

These priorities include, but are not limited to:

  • Identifying strategies to increase membership, specifically from practitioners who are not familiar with AEA;
  • Identifying activities that best support member engagement;
  • Increasing revenue via additional fundraising efforts;
  • Identifying recommendations from task force reports to be operationalized;
  • Increasing professional development offerings.

I love the passion that drives AEA members who work tirelessly to advocate for a voice to ensure that evaluation is at the foundation of our society’s decision making processes. The dedication of AEA’s members to advance the practice of evaluation is at the core of the organization’s success, and I eagerly anticipate working with the leadership, Topical Interest Groups (TIGs), Working Groups, Local Affiliate Collaborative groups (LACs), members, staff and other groups to support the important role of evaluation in this world with the same level of enthusiasm.

I am excited to work with you and look forward to seeing you in Cleveland at Evaluation 2018 this fall!

 

The Face of AEA

Meet Lisa Aponte-Soto 

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Name: Lisa Aponte-Soto

Affiliation: University of Illinois at Chicago, Office of Community Based Practice

Degrees: PhD in community health sciences, MHA in health policy and administration, BS in biology and psychology, and BA in Spanish language, literature, and translation

Years in the Evaluation Field: 9 years

Joined AEA: 2009

 

1. Why do you belong to AEA?

I first joined AEA when I became an intern of the Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) program in 2009. Although I had previously conducted summative program evaluation, I had no formal evaluation training. Participating in the GEDI program allowed me to acquire theoretical, technical, and applied evaluation skills with a culturally responsive lens. Since completing my internship, I continue to be engaged in AEA for: 1) networking, 2) accountability, 3) ongoing skill development and 4) advancing best practices. 

First, AEA membership provides me access to an invaluable network of colleagues and scholars that challenge me and nurture my professional development. Being part of AEA keeps me accountable to the beneficiaries and other stakeholders of evaluation, through the use of the AEA Guiding Principles, as well as the Statement of Cultural Competence. It also allows me to learn from evaluation experts and colleagues about new approaches, tools, trends and practices in the field. Finally, I value the opportunity to contribute to the field by working with the AEA community to advance evaluation knowledge and thought leadership.

2. What is the most memorable or meaningful evaluation you have been a part of? 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” As a service-oriented leader and evaluator, I consider myself an advocate and liaison to the communities I serve. Thus, one of the most meaningful evaluations I have been a part of was when I served as a volunteer to evaluate a health education program for a diverse community. The program was offered by a free community health clinic that was sustained by volunteered staff. This was an enriching and positive learning experience as I was able to apply collaborative evaluation approaches and adapt culturally and linguistically appropriate instruments to ensure that the voices of the participants were included across the evaluation process. It served as a good model for conducting culturally responsive evaluation.

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

AEA is a nurturing community of learning. I encourage anyone new to the field to get involved. AEA offers various opportunities for service. Volunteerism opens many doors and helps build your network. 

Gain additional evaluation skills by take advantage of the resources offered by AEA through the conference programming, as well as the pre- and post-conference workshops. AEA’s Tip-a-Day blog, AEA365, AEA Coffee Breaks, eStudy Courses and journal also offer useful tips to keep you current on the latest trends in the field.

Build your network by joining a Topical Interest Group (TIG); attending the annual conference, Evaluation 2018, Speaking Truth to Power; or volunteering in other AEA service opportunities. 

Be inclusive in your practice of evaluation and think about whose voices need to be represented. 

Finally, as you advance in your career, remember to give back and mentor other emerging evaluators.

 

Call for Applications 

AEA Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI)
Deadline: Thursday, May 24, 2018  

From Zachary Grays, AEA Headquarters

The American Evaluation Association (AEA) welcomes applications for its Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program that provides paid internship and training opportunities during the academic year. The GEDI program works to engage and support students from groups traditionally under-represented in the field of evaluation. The goals of the GEDI Program are to:

  • Expand the pool of graduate students of color and from other under-represented groups who have extended their research capacities to evaluation
  • Stimulate evaluation thinking concerning under-represented communities and culturally responsive evaluation
  • Deepen the evaluation profession's capacity to work in racially, ethnically and culturally diverse settings

Interns may come from a variety of disciplines, including public health, education, political science, anthropology, psychology, sociology, social work, and the natural sciences. Their commonality is a strong background in research skills, an interest in extending their capacities to the field of evaluation, and a commitment to thinking deeply about culturally responsive evaluation practice.

Prospective Scholar Webinar

Have additional questions about being a GEDI intern? Join GEDI Program Directors Dr. Rodney Hopson and Dr. Brandi Gilbert as they discuss the GEDI program experience from the scholar perspective and answer your questions. This is an excellent opportunity to get an inside perspective on what it is like to be a scholar and the program’s expectations. Register below:

Register here | Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 3:00 PM ET

Before applying for this program, please review the eligibility requirements and expectations:

The Internship: Building on the training content described below, the interns work the equivalent of approximately two days per week at an internship site near their home institutions from approximately Sept. 1 to July 1. The interns may work on a single evaluation project or multiple projects at the site, but all internship work is focused on building skills and confidence in real-world evaluation practices. Interns receive a stipend of $10,000 in recognition of their internship work based on completion of the internship and satisfactory finalization of program requirements, including any deliverables due to the host agency, progress reports, and reflections on the internship experience.

Training and Networking Components: It is assumed that students come to the program with basic qualitative and quantitative research skills. The GEDI Program then works to extend those skills to evaluation through multiple activities:

  • Fall Seminar: A five-day intensive seminar, held in Claremont, California, that provides an orientation that expands the student's knowledge and understanding of critical issues in evaluation, including thinking about building evaluation capacities to work across cultures and diverse groups. The interns complete a self-assessment in the Fall, clarifying their own goals during program participation.
  • AEA Annual Conference: Interns will spend a week at the AEA annual conference. While there, they will attend (a) pre-conference workshops selected to fill gaps in their knowledge and skills, (b) conference sessions exploring the breadth and depth of the field, and (c) multiple networking events to connect them with senior colleagues. The interns also conduct a small-service learning project in the form of an evaluation of one component of the conference.
  • Winter Seminar: A three-day seminar, held in January or February, provides the students with additional training, coaching on their evaluation projects, and panel discussions with evaluation practitioners working in a range of contexts.
  • Evaluation Project: Interns will have the opportunity to provide support to an agency's evaluation activities in close proximity to their graduate institution. Interns will provide three updates on their evaluation project activities as part of the internship program, describing and reflecting on the application of their evaluation knowledge to the actual project activities.
  • Monthly Webinars:The students gather each month for a two-hour webinar to check in on evaluation projects and site placements, add to existing skill-sets, and learn from invited guest speakers.
  • AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Institute: The program ends with attendance at the Summer Evaluation Institute held in Atlanta each June. There, students once again connect and finalize project reporting, attend training workshops, and participate in a graduation ceremony.

Student Benefits: Interns receive support from advisors and mentors, quality training focused on evaluation, real-world work experience, registration waivers and guidance at two professional evaluation conferences, and multiple opportunities for professional networking. In recognition of the time involved in the program (approximately two days per week), each intern also receives a stipend and is reimbursed for major travel expenses related to the program (airfare and shared hotel specifically), but is responsible for travel incidentals (to and from home/airport, to/from hotels, meals not taken together, etc.).

Eligibility: We seek students who are not already enrolled in an evaluation program/specialization or pursuing an evaluation degree who:

  • Are enrolled in a masters or doctoral-level program in the United States and have completed the equivalent of one full year of graduate level coursework;
  • Are residing in the United States;
  • Have already been exposed to research methods and substantive issues in their field of expertise;
  • Demonstrate via written essays the relevance of evaluation training to their career plans and their commitment to culturally responsive practice;
  • Are eligible to work for pay in the United States outside of an academic environment (non-U.S. citizens will be asked to provide documentation of current eligibility); and
  • Have support from his/her academic advisor.

Criteria for Selection: The interns will be selected based on their completed applications, materials provided, and subsequent finalist interviews focusing on:

  • Their thinking around and commitment to culturally responsive evaluation practice;
  • The alignment between their skills, aspirations, locale, and internship site placement needs;
  • The quality of their academic, extracurricular, and personal experiences as preparation for GEDI; and
  • Their capacity to carry out and complete the program, including support from an academic advisor.

To applyDownload the GEDI Application and return all requested materials via email as described on that document on or before Thursday, May 24, 2018. Please note that it may take a few weeks to compile the requested information and thus we recommend that you begin as soon as possible before the deadline.


Policy Watch

Federal Evaluation Policies in the 2018 Budget Deal

From Nick Hart, Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) Chair

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AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) has been closely monitoring key pieces of federal legislation with implications on evaluation practice. Several major policy reforms encouraging evaluation practices in federal government programs have been enacted into law in 2018, and more changes may be likely in the near future.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, referred to in Washington, D.C., as the 2018 budget deal, included four key evaluation policies that relate to specific programs and activities in the federal government.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which became law on February 9, 2018, provides funding for government through March 23, 2018, and also includes several provisions that encourage evaluation in targeted policy areas:

  • Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) Reauthorization: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ home visiting program was reauthorized as part of the legislation, including provisions that require grantees to adopt program models that have been subjected to impact evaluations. A portion of funding for home visiting is also allocated to evaluate promising approaches that may be deployed more broadly in the future.
  • Family First Prevention Services Authorization: The child welfare program underwent an overhaul for certain prevention activities in the legislation, in support of reducing inappropriate foster care placements across the country. Child welfare programs will now have requirements for implementing evidence-based prevention activities for foster care, as determined through evaluations.
  • Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Authorization: A new program was established at the U.S. Department of Treasury with $100 million appropriation to support the launch of Pay for Success projects at the state and local level. These projects are intended to partner with private sector entities to operate programs, and payments for services are determined based on achieving outcomes measured in evaluations. The program also includes requirements for coordination of the activities across the federal government and establishes the Commission on Social Impact Partnerships, with non-governmental representatives tasked to aid the review and implementation of the new program and its evaluation requirements.
  • Re-employment Services Grants: The U.S. Department of Labor received authority to provide grants to state governments to specifically support individuals receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits to also receive reemployment services. The program establishes specific criteria for defining “evidence-based” and increasingly shifts funding into programs that meet certain standards over the next eight years. The authority also directs the completion of evaluations for certain grants, and provides additional incentive funds to states who exceed performance on key outcomes.

These major changes to law that affect federal evaluation policy have already been enacted, and will alter the government’s efforts to both support the generation of evaluation and the eventual use by intended audiences. The EPTF will continue to monitor and provide assistance for efforts to implement these provisions in coming months and years. 

 

EPTF Selects 3 New Members

From AEA Headquarters

The EPTF has selected the following members to fill three open seats on the task force:

  • Diana Epstein, Evidence Team Lead at the White House Office of Management and Budget
  • Tom Chapel, Chief Evaluation Officer at US HHS Centers for Disease Control
  • Demetra Nightingale, Former Chief Evaluation Officer at the US Department of Labor

AEA has been soliciting self-nominations for the three open seats on the EPTF since December 2017. The solicitation was included in the December 2017 and January 2018 newsletters and the published deadline was February 5, 2018. AEA received 21 nominations. 

Per the procedures document for the appointment process, the names were reviewed by the Denise Roosendaal, Executive Director at the time of review, and Nick Hart, chair of the EPTF, as well as President Leslie Goodyear. The selection was based on the following criteria with special emphasis on numbers five and six:

  1. Commitment to supporting the mission and goals of AEA.
  2. Knowledge of and a history of prior involvement with the AEA.
  3. Familiarity with the field of evaluation and capacity to understand and represent the field to others.
  4. A broad perspective on evaluation and willingness to advocate for the many and diverse views of evaluation.
  5. Knowledge of the federal policymaking process.
  6. Experience with policy development initiatives in the Federal Government.
  7. Experience with public presentations of evaluation to a variety of audiences.
  8. Diversity of the Task Force and representativeness of the breadth of members and interests of AEA.

We appreciate the time and willingness to serve from those AEA members who applied.

 

Join the AEA Board for Virtual Town Halls

Meetings Confirmed for April, May and June

From AEA Headquarters

The 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. 

The Board will use the GoTo Meeting platform with a Q&A feature for receiving and addressing questions. President Leslie Goodyear will host 30-60 minute sessions. The following session topics and guest facilitators have been confirmed. 


AEA April Town Hall: Race & Class Dialogues
Friday, April 20, 2018 at 2 p.m. ET

Join President Leslie Goodyear, Past President Kathy Newcomer and AEA Member Melvin Hall to discuss the Race & Class Dialogues project outcomes and future steps. Register here.


AEA May Town Hall: AEA Landscape Map
Friday, May 18, 2018 at 2 p.m. ET

Join AEA President Leslie Goodyear and Board member Tessie Catsambas as they discuss the AEA Ends Goals statement and highlight the work the Board is currently performing on Policy Governance (PG). Register here.
 

AEA June Town Hall: AEA Guiding Principles Review
Friday, June 15, 2018 at 2 p.m. ET

AEA President Leslie Goodyear will be joined by AEA Member Beverly Parsons to discuss the AEA Guiding Principles. Register here.

 

AEA Student and University Outreach Program

Become a University Coordinator, Help Advance the Future of Evaluation 

From AEA Headquarters

AEA is committed to enriching the professional development of future generations of evaluators. Students who are interested in pursuing a career in evaluation might desire greater knowledge about the profession and to connect with the larger evaluation community as a whole. This can be achieved through professional resources and development offerings, networking and access to a community of respected evaluators. In order to provide these tools and professional resources, AEA has spearheaded a Student and University Outreach Program as a key Professional Development initiative. This program allows students and professors interested in evaluation to hone in their evaluation practices and methods together in the classroom.

The AEA encourages university faculty members, administrators, or AEA members to become AEA University Coordinators. University Coordinators receive complimentary membership for one year if they recruit and maintain 10 students interested in evaluation to join AEA. This way, Coordinators can enrich their own professional development while bolstering that of future evaluators.

More specifically, some of the benefits University Coordinators receive with membership are:

  • Access to AEA’s e-learning opportunities
  • Download conference session material (PowerPoint presentations, videos) to use for instruction or discussion in the classroom
  • Gain recognition for your university and program through prominent logo and contact placement on AEA’s university program webpage.

In exchange for these benefits, the University Coordinator must agree to the following:

  • Verify the students’ interest in evaluation as a career
  • Ensure student joins AEA as a student member using tracking code:fs2hu6ma
  • Pledge to maintain the university listing on the AEA website
  • Assist the students through the application process by answering questions the students have and confirming documents
  • Monitor communication from AEA and disseminate when appropriate to the students
  • Encourage students to use the AEA resources to build their evaluation knowledge and career pathway

Ultimately, students benefit from the University Outreach Program with opportunities to learn about the evaluation profession, networking and access to a community of respected evaluators. Through Student Membership, students receive:

  • Reduced costs for registration on eStudy courses, which feature monthly, in-depth online workshops on today’s leading evaluation topics
  • Free access to the AEA Coffee Break webinar series and archive library, providing bite-sized professional development opportunities for evaluators
  • Opportunities to connect with our community of more than 7,000 fellow evaluators and learn from thought leader discussions
  • Subscriptions and access to evaluation publications and journals
  • Reduced student registration for AEA’s live events: Annual Conference and Summer Evaluation Institute

The Student and University Outreach Program is a vehicle to further enhance a university’s leadership role for professionalism in evaluation. To become a University Coordinator, please contact Zachary Grays at info@eval.org or 202.367.1166. 

 

Join AGA and AEA for 2018 PIO/CFO Summit

Educational Event Takes Place May 1, 2018 in Washington, D.C. 

From AEA Headquarters

On Friday, May 1, 2018, the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) and AEA will host the Performance Improvement Officer/Chief Financial Officer Summit (PIO/CFO Summit) in Washington, D.C. Join us for an insightful dialogue on the emerging policies that impact and call for greater collaboration between the federal financial management community, evaluators, and the broader evidence community. This educational event is free for individuals who work for government. Private-sector participation is available via sponsorship.

More information and registration details can be found here. You can also contact organizer Susan Fritzlen at SFritzlen@agacgfm.org.

 

International Evaluation Update

Exploring the Future of Evaluation at MERLTech London

From Cindy Clapp-Wincek, Shawna Hoffman and Veronica Olazabal

International Eval Headshots.pngDuring the week of March 19, roughly 200 evaluators, tech providers, data scientists, and development practitioners from around the world convened in the UK for MERLTech London to explore the intersection of these fields. Since 2014, MERLTech has grown into a global community that meets annually in London, Washington, D.C. and, this year for the first time, Johannesburg, to discuss and share cutting-edge practices.

Over two days, participants explored the application of new tech tools such as big data, artificial intelligence, biometrics, and satellite imaging to support monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of programs, projects and policies. The potential of these tools to enable, for example, remote monitoring of crop yields, tracking of migration patterns, and the collection of large amounts of data from rural and remote areas has generated great excitement. To follow the active conversation around technology and its applications to M&E of international development, please visit merltech.org.



International Travel Awards Are In

The deadline to submit applications for AEA’s International Travel Awards was March 19th. This year, we received over 70 applications from evaluators, students and academics living and working all across the globe. The winners of the awards will be announced in the coming months. Stay tuned!

 

Potent Presentations Initiative

You, the Presenter! What We Learned from 190 Respondents: Part II  

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator 

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In February’s article, I shared results from a Potent Presentations Survey called “You, the Presenter: What Would Help You Up Your Game?” I shared who respondents were, what types of presentations they most often give, and the types of presentations they anticipate giving in the future.

This month, I’ll share what respondents identified as priority areas for improving their presentation practice. The survey included three questions designed to elicit this. 

  1. What is one aspect of giving presentations you would like to improve in your own practice? (open-ended question)
  2. The Potent Presentations Initiative (P2i) divides presentations into key elements: Messaging, Design and Delivery, along with Audience Engagement. In which of these areas would you MOST like to improve your presentation practice?
    1. Messaging: Crafting the central message or content of your presentation
    2. Design: Crafting slides or other visuals to accompany your presentation
    3. Delivery: Your public speaking skills
    4. Audience Engagement: Engaging audience members and crafting interactive components of a presentation
  3. Which of these areas would be your second priority for improvement?
    1. Messaging: Crafting the central message or content of your presentation
    2. Design: Crafting slides or other visuals to accompany your presentation
    3. Delivery: Your public speaking skills
    4. Audience Engagement: Engaging audience members and crafting interactive components of a presentation
    5. None of these – I don't have a second priority

Audience engagement came out soundly on top for first priority, followed by Design, Messaging, and Delivery. Messaging inched out as the top second priority area, followed by Audience Engagement, Design and Delivery.

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The open-ended question allowed respondents to describe their needs in their own words, offering insight into the specific aspects of these areas – Audience Engagement, Messaging, Design and Delivery – that they would like to improve.

For Audience Engagement, respondents described these needs:

  • …how to engage participants in more meaningful and active ways so that the information (big ideas) I am sharing "sticks" and is more actionable.
  • I want to figure out how to embed more engaging, interactive components that don't feel forced or awkward.
  • Finding opportunities for facilitation (e.g., activity, discussion) rather than just giving didactic presentations.

For Messaging, they described these needs:

  • Being succinct and deciding what’s important to fit into the time and diverse audience interest
  • How to boil down messages into crystal clear ideas
  • Narrowing the points. I think we often try, in all fairness to the data, to give everything in a presentation and then the impact points can get lost. How do we be fair to the data while also getting to the point?
  • Clarity – have 1-2 key messages and call to actions
  • …trying to find the perfect balance between content overload and not providing enough information, to effectively engage with what I am presenting

Stay tuned! In future articles you’ll learn what respondents had to say about Design and Delivery, what formats they prefer for learning about presentations, and who their favorite presenters are.

p2i Needs 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.

  

AEA Coffee Breaks and eStudy Courses 

Take Advantage of Online Learning Sessions with AEA 

AEA will offer several Coffee Break sessions and eStudy courses in April and May. More information is shared below. For registration and further details, visit the Coffee Break page or eStudy page

3-Part Coffee Break Series in April

Applying Complexity to Make Practical Decisions About Evaluation: A Three-session Series
Thursday, April 12, 19, and 26 | 2:00 PM - 2:20 PM EDT 

Presented by Jonathan A. Morell, PhD, this three-part coffee break series will show evaluators how to draw on complexity to make practical decisions about doing evaluation. The key is to shift attention from “complex systems” to particular themes and behaviors of complex systems. “Systems” is too ambiguous to guide operational decisions about program theory, data collection, data interpretation, or stakeholder engagement. Specific complex behaviors can provide insight about those decisions. Each presentation will discuss one specific complex behavior that could be useful to evaluators, and each session will stand on its own. The collective impact will familiarize evaluators with the field of complexity, and instill a sense that the field of complexity can make a contribution to evaluation practice.

eStudy Sessions in April and May

Join Jennifer Catrambone, Director of Quality Improvement & Evaluation, RMR CORE Center, for a two-part session "Non-Parametric Statistics: What to Do When Your Data Breaks the Rules," taking place on Tuesday, April 10 and Thursday, April 12. This eStudy will provide a brief overview of parametric statistics in order to contrast them with non-parametric statistics. Data situations requiring non-parametric statistics will be reviewed and appropriate techniques will be demonstrated using screenshots of SPSS analysis software. The instructor will demonstrate how to run the non-parametric statistics in SPSS.

In May, join Kylie Hutchinson, Principal, Community Solutions Planning & Evaluation, for "The Seven Habits of Highly Utilized Evaluations." In this interactive webinar, participants will examine known barriers to the utilization of results, as well as concrete ideas on how to facilitate greater utilization. Participants will leave with practical techniques and tips for engaging stakeholders, writing better recommendations, reporting more effectively, and developing action plans. The course takes place in two sessions, on Tuesday, May 15, and Thursday, May 17.

 

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