AEA Newsletter: May 2018

Message from the President 

From Leslie Goodyear, AEA President


Is May over already? Happy spring into summer!

Things are starting to shape up for the Eval2018 Conference!

Thanks to all who submitted session proposals in March – we received over 1,800 submissions and the Topical Interest Groups (TIGs) and their teams had a busy spring reading and reviewing. TIG leaders have submitted their workbooks and the AEA staff are beginning the process of developing the program. Proposers should receive their notices when the live program goes live in mid-July. 

The Conference Program Committee, led by Aimee White and Katrina Bledsoe, has been meeting as well, discussing ideas for keynotes, presidential strand sessions, and the return of the video contest. In their workbooks, TIGs have recommended sessions to be featured on the Presidential Strand and the Program Committee is busy reviewing these suggestions as I write.

Great ideas have been put forward and we’re very excited with how the program is taking shape! I’m not going to give away the keynote speakers yet, but I have to say we’re developing a stellar line up. And stay tuned for more information coming soon about the video contest.

Heads up: Get ready to vote and get engaged!

I am so excited to share with you that the Guiding Principles Task Force and the Evaluator Competencies Task Force have both completed their work and we will soon be ready to share their products. Please join me in thanking the members of these task forces for their hard work, insights, commitment to member input, and the time spent to make such an important contribution to AEA and the field.

At the May meeting, the Board voted to approve the AEA Evaluator Competencies and the revised Guiding Principles for Evaluators. Together, these serve as important guides regarding ethical, competent evaluation practice.

Next steps? For both the Guiding Principles and the Competencies, member Working Groups will be formed to work with Anisha Lewis, our Executive Director, and AEA staff, to develop dissemination plans, training modules, and other possible next steps to ensure that members know about and use these important documents.

For the Guiding Principles, per policy, the membership will vote to approve them. This year, in an effort to increase voter turnout, we’re bundling the Guiding Principles vote with the election of the next AEA president and board members. Keep your eyes open for more information about this important event, which should be in July.

I’ve been everywhere, man.

Well, not really! But I have had the chance to visit with AEA members in a lot of places – I’ve visited local affiliates in Boston and Denver; met students at Western Michigan University; attended the Eastern Evaluation Research Society conference; the Ohio Program Evaluators’ Group conference; and will be representing AEA to the Canadian Evaluation Society conference at the end of the month. I hope to see some of you at the AEA Summer Institute in June in Atlanta, too!

Whether at AEA and local affiliate events, checking in on EvalTalk, submitting ideas to the Ideas and Issues Portal on the AEA website, or just through email, I’m interested in hearing what’s happening in your evaluation world. What are the issues to address? The opportunities to leverage? The challenges to meet? The successes to celebrate? And what costume are you planning to wear to the Wednesday evening Halloween reception at the conference?


Walking the Talk with Seema Mahato

Seema Potrait 1.JPG

From Seema Mahato, AACTE Holmes Scholar, Albert Schweitzer Fellow and Doctoral Student Educational Studies at the Patton College of Education, Ohio University 

As I reflect on AEA’s 2018 conference theme, “Speaking Truth to Power,” in conjunction with AEA’s values, guiding principles and the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, I recognize the concerted effort made toward directing the work of evaluation for the larger public good. Such developments are very encouraging, especially for those aspiring to join the profession of evaluation.  

Values and Professional Competence

I see the ability to uphold AEA’s values as a manifestation of professional competence. Evaluation as a practice happens in diverse settings, involving diverse stakeholders. Yet, its core values remain focused around systematic, ethical, efficient, effective, responsive, transparent and socially responsible operations. To me, these values are guidelines that help me remain entrenched with evaluation’s overarching idea of public good. Power disparities and structural inertia (for not engaging in evaluation) are hurdles that most evaluators have to overcome in order to conduct meaningful and effective evaluations, or even remain focused on the evaluand. The values, to me personally, act as an immediate solace during dilemmas when evaluators must decide on finding the level of “influence” permissible, without jeopardizing the project objective. Definitely, at the next level, evaluators can seek help and guidance of their experienced peers, but the AEA values have been my most immediate guide.

Building Trusting Relationships

Personally, the excitement and satisfaction of evaluation that facilitates program success and/or improvement is the best reward. While I do appreciate that providing nonpartisan information for decision-making is the overarching goal of most evaluations, education, capacity building and relationship building must be woven into every stage of the evaluation process. However, I must admit that education and capacity building is easier said than done; relationship building is an accessible goal. This is because education and capacity building have their own learning curves and usually work best when the foundation of trust (relationships) has been laid. Once there is trust, there is openness to new information and perspectives that allow the evaluators and the evaluand to work together as a team. This is an aspect of including diversity in evaluations that I have attempted to practice in my work. 

Socially Responsive and Systematic Operations

The call for socially responsive operations touches me deeply, as I think this AEA value calls upon evaluators to think above and beyond methodological predilections, to consider public good. Owing to my training as a research-methods and evaluation professional, I thought expertise in research-methods to be the most important skill to possess, until I read AEA’s values and guiding principles. I feel the values effectively capture the need for both methodological expertise and social responsibility. In fact, being able to adapt research and technical expertise to the context is an important test of technical competence that results in utilization of the evaluation findings.


Access the AEA Issues and Ideas Portal

From Zachary Grays, AEA Staff 


In case you missed it: the American Evaluation Association recently introduced the AEA Issues and Ideas Portal. AEA welcomes member input on the professional and policy issues that impact evaluators’ work and the policies that directly impact their interests. AEA members may also use this portal to submit program ideas or input for AEA Board consideration.

This mechanism allows AEA members to raise concerns, issues and opportunities related to the evaluation profession or policy to the Board of Directors for consideration on behalf of the organization. While the AEA Board cannot guarantee pursuit of every issue presented for consideration, each member will be allowed only one vote per priority and allowed to offer comments.

Members can utilize this tool to submit input on the following topics:

  • Evaluation Policy: Issues and ideas related to evaluation policy in local, state and federal governments.
  • Evaluation Profession: Issues and ideas impacting the evaluation profession.
  • Program Ideas: Issues and ideas related to existing AEA programs.
  • Board Input: Issues and ideas to be raised on the Board level related to AEA governing policy

The AEA Management Team will compile all results and submit to the Board of Directors when the response rate for Priority Level 1 or 2 totals 2 percent of the total membership number. The Board of Directors will then consider the topic at their next meeting and will offer a response to the issue thread.

If you have any questions about this portal, please contact Zachary Grays, Natalie DeHart or Milos Popovic at or 202.367.1166.


Digital Knowledge Hub Provides Educational Resources 24/7 

From the AEA Education Team 

Have you taken advantage the AEA Digital Knowledge Hub? The online resource, for evaluators, by evaluators, features valuable professional development resources at your fingertips 24/7. The improved website allows for a more streamlined and cohesive experience, and puts you in the driver's seat when it comes to advancing your learning experience. 

Access on-demand learning, including eStudy courses and Annual Conference Recordings, or sign up for live courses. It's never been easier to immerse yourself in peer-driven content and rich, in-depth presentations. 

Access the Digital Knowledge Hub here.


Summer Evaluation Institute is Around the Corner

Join Us in Atlanta, Georgia, June 17-20, 2018

Calling all evaluators, applied researchers, grantmakers, foundation program officers, nonprofit administrators, social science students — and you! Join us June 17-20 in Atlanta, Georgia, to gain cutting-edge expertise from evaluation thought leaders, build your skillset through interactive workshops, and engage in discussion with your fellow colleagues.


This year's event will include a keynote address from Kylie Hutchinson, more than 30 in-depth workshops on niche topics and plenty of networking opportunities. Learn from experts who have conducted evaluations in a variety of settings, nationally known authors, those working on the cutting edge of the field, evaluation experts, and outstanding trainers. For more information, schedule at-a-glance and registration details, visit the Summer Evaluation Institute page on the AEA website.    


Call for Volunteers: AEA Membership Advisory Working Group

From the AEA Leadership Team 

Membership Committee (2).pngAEA is excited to announce the creation of the Membership Advisory Working Group, designed to advise staff on strategies to grow the AEA membership, including recruitment, engagement and retention. AEA Executive Director Anisha Lewis will select members for this Working Group with an eye toward diversity.

AEA and the Leadership Team are committed to nourishing and broadening diversity in the governance of the association. As stated in the AEA bylaws, "It is the policy of the American Evaluation Association to actively seek diversity across the Board and all committees, task forces, and other advisory groups, and individuals."

Particular attention is paid to adequate representation and balance according to the following criteria:

  • Gender (including nondiscrimination based on sexual representation and orientation or gender identity)
  • Racial/ethnic representation
  • Disciplinary heterogeneity
  • Practitioner/academic balance
  • Geographic heterogeneity
  • International representation and perspectives
  • Heterogeneity of areas of application
  • Tenure heterogeneity

In order to apply to join the Membership Advisory Working Group, please visit our AEA Volunteer Opportunities page and click the “Volunteer Now” button and select “Membership Advisory Working Group” from the drop down in the PDF. 

If you have any questions, please contact Natalie DeHart at or 202-367-1166.


Join the AEA Board for Virtual Town Halls

Meetings Scheduled for June and July 

From the AEA Board of Directors

TownHalls (1).pngThe 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. 

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 topic and guest facilitators have been confirmed. 

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 May Town Hall: AEA Landscape Map
Friday, July 20, 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.


Potent Presentations Initiative

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

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator 

Sheila Robinson-RS 2.png

Over the last few months, I shared results from a Potent Presentations Survey called “You, the Presenter: What Would Help You Up Your Game?” I shared who respondents were, types of presentations they most often give, types of presentations they anticipate giving in the future, along with what respondents identified as priority areas for improving their presentation practice.  In this month's article we’ll look at what formats respondents prefer for new learning and learn who our respondents named as the presenters they admire. 

Format for Improving Presentations

The survey included the following question: What format(s) are you most likely to use to improve your presentation practice? and offered these options: 

  • Downloaded resources
  • Blog posts / articles
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • None of these
  • Something else? (with the opportunity to write in)

 Downloadable resources came out on top, followed by blog posts / articles, and videos.


Of the respondents who offered substantive answers to Something else? (n=25), a few offered coaching or mentoring (n=4), books (n=3), and workshops (n=3).


One respondent offered this idea: An online practice session with others interested in listening and giving feedback. Perhaps through Zoom or Skype? Even if we would each commit to giving only 10 minutes of a presentation and getting 10 minutes of feedback. 

Our Favorite Presenters

Respondents were asked, Please name up to 3 presenters you admire for their presentation skills. For each, please describe what you find appealing about their presentations. What makes you seek them out and want to be in the audience? 

While many respondents named well-known evaluators, others named individuals, both more and less well-known, from other fields. Here’s the entire list here (n=69). Next month, you’ll learn who was named most often and the characteristics respondents admire.


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 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 

eStudies.pngWhether you're looking for a short break in the day to boost your learning or more in-depth sessions with thought-leaders, AEA offers several ways to continue learning. Below are e-learning sessions offered in June and July. More information and links to register are available on the AEA Coffee Break page or AEA eStudy page.

Coffee Breaks in June 

Focus Groups: Developing your Questioning Route | Tuesday, June 5, 2-2:20 p.m. EST
Presented by Beverly Peters

Reflecting on her use of focus groups in southern Africa, Beverly Peters will discuss how she developed questioning routes and moderated focus groups to help facilitate the cascading of conversation and the collection of data for monitoring and evaluation.

Participatory Tools: The Why and the How | Tuesday, June 12, 2-2:20 p.m. EST 
Presented by Beverly Peters

In this presentation, Beverly Peters will discuss her use of sorting, seasonal calendars, and mapping to collect qualitative data from project beneficiaries in southern Africa. She will also reflect on the skills needed to use such tools effectively, including good observation and interviewing skills, building rapport, listening, and understanding nonverbal and cultural cues.

eStudy Sessions in June and July 

eStudy 089: Introduction to Stakeholder Engagement for Complex Contexts | June 5 and 7, from 12-1:30 p.m. EST
Presented by Juna Z. Snow, Ph.D., Principal, Innovated Consulting, LLC Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Michael A Harnar, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Western Michigan University & Senior Evaluation Specialist, Innovated Consulting, LLC

Evaluators work with context-laden programs, and stakeholders reflect the dimensions of those contexts. Engaging stakeholders is not simply a choice of method, it is methodological – grounded in paradigms that guide how an evaluation is designed and implemented. This webinar will share tools and strategies used by evaluation practitioners when engaging stakeholders, particularly with application in contexts that exercise evaluator competencies, such as cultural responsiveness and reflexivity.

eStudy 090: Visual Thinking + Visual Making = The formula for doing Data Visualization | June 26 and 28, from 12-1:30 p.m. EST
Presented by Sara Vaca, Independent Evaluator

This workshop aims to awake visual thinking dimension and help translate visual ideas into reality with Microsoft Office programs. By discovering, or remembering, the basic foundations of Data Visualization and seeing actual manners of communicating M&E concepts with visuals, we will open our mind and imagination to allow the visual dimension enter some parts of your daily work and your way of thinking and analyzing, and we will set the basis for creating effective visuals.

eStudy 091: Designing Useful Surveys | July 17 and 19, 2-3:30 p.m. EST
Presented by Michelle Kobayashi,Vice President, National Research Center, Inc.

Surveys for program evaluation, performance measurement, or needs assessment can provide excellent information for evaluators. However, designing effective surveys requires an eye both to unbiased question design as well as the best methods for data administration. Neglecting these two aspects impacts the success of the survey.


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