AEA Newsletter: November 2015

Potent Presentations - Looking Forward to 2016 and a p2i Renewal

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator 

Sheila Robinson-RS 2.pngWith the close of Evaluation 2015 on November 14 and the mass exodus of evaluators from Chicagoland, many conference-goers began to reflect on sessions they attended. On planes, trains, and automobiles, we reviewed notes and handouts and began to consider what we learned and what we hope to soon implement in our own evaluation practice.

And so I begin to wonder: What resonated most with session attendees? Which presenters and presentations had an impact that will last and spur us to action, and why? Was it the message, the design, the delivery, the way in which presenters enaged their audiences, or some combination of all of these? Whose message will we actually remember? Whose slides and handouts will serve as inspiration and models for the way we will present and communicate at future conferences and other meetings?*

I was pleased to see p2i principles in action at some of the sessions I attended. I saw better designed slides with less text and more images, and I saw some presenters using a variety of audience engagement strategies.  I also saw well-designed posters with large fonts, clear flow of ideas, and images evoking the story being communicated.

This is great progress, but there is still work to do. I attended sessions where the message was not clear, and where presenters spent an inordinate amount of time sharing contextual details of the work that were not central to the message. I saw slides with poor contrast between the background and text, making them difficult to read, and templates that distracted from the message. I saw speakers who could barely detach their gaze from computer screens or notecards. I saw posters composed of sheets of 8” x 11” paper, and some with no use of color or images to convey the story.

P2I Image.pngHow can we spread the message that help is available? Not only do we feature a whole host of resources on p2i, but there are also potent presenters out there willing to coach those ready to learn. Each year, the confernce features a number of pre-conference workshops and sessions devoted to the craft of better presentations.

The Potent Presentations Initiative (p2i) has big plans for 2016, including a site update. We’re looking forward to the development of new content and resources, and a bigger presence on social media.

Did you attend a Potent Presentation at Evaluation 2015? Please write to me and share your thoughts on what resonated with you. Have an idea for a new resource for the p2i website? Please let me know! Have ideas about how to spread the word about improving our presentation practices? Connect with me at

*Knowing your answers to some of these questions will help us improve the site and resources. Please do write and tell me about your favorite potent presenters and presentations.


International Policy Update - Eyewitness Reports from Three Important Meetings in Bangkok

From Mike Hendricks, AEA Representative to the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), with contributions from Jim Rugh, EvalPartners Co-Coordinator

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      Jim Rugh 2010.01.16.JPG

During the last week of October, Bangkok was the site of three important evaluation meetings. Fortunately for us, we have an eyewitness report from each meeting. Thank you to these three experts for generously sharing what they saw and heard.

Dorothy Lucks, IOCE secretary and co-chair of EvalSDGs, reports on the 4th International Conference on National Evaluation Capacities (NEC):

More than 100 countries sent representatives, often senior government officials, to this conference, which was jointly sponsored by the United Nations Development Program’s Independent Evaluation Office and the Royal Thai Government. As the title of the conference makes clear, the question is how to keep developing the national evaluation capacities of countries around the world. The conference theme was Blending Evaluation Principles with Development Practices to Change People’s Lives, and the conference deliberately (and wisely) met at the same time and place as the IDEAS Global Assembly (see below).

Since the U.N. had just adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years, naturally the conference focused quite a bit on how governments – at all levels of development, including the U.S. – can capably evaluate sustainable development. As you might imagine, there were intense discussions about evaluation and the SDGs. Some of the many important points discussed included national ownership of M&E systems, the need to strengthen local monitoring and data systems, innovation in technology and techniques for evaluation, more opportunities for local evaluation capacity development, and greater follow-up of evaluation recommendations.

The NEC conference developed two main products: (1) input into the Global Evaluation Agenda 2016-2020 that EvalPartners will be launching at its Global Evaluation Forum in Kathmandu the last week of November and (2) an important Bangkok Declaration on national evaluation capacities and the SDGs, which was approved jointly by both this conference and the IDEAS Global Assembly.

Jim Rugh of AEA reports on the 5th IDEAS Global Assembly:

The International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS), comprised of over 700 members, is the world’s largest association of evaluators who do development evaluation (not to be confused with developmental evaluation). (Note that membership in the parallel International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation [IOCE] is by organizations – i.e., VOPEs.) This 5th IDEAS Global Assembly was held at the same time as the NEC conference described above, and the theme of Evaluating Sustainable Development recognized the growing importance of integrating sustainability in development.

In particular, the conference recognized the need to achieve a balance between social, economic, and environmental domains while also noting that this balance needs to be sustainable over time. Another theme was that the needs of current generations should be balanced with the needs of future generations, including young and emerging evaluators, who deserve more attention paid to their career opportunities and their career paths.

The Global Assembly also made clear that much remains to be done. In his opening speech, IDEAS President Rob D. van den Berg identified two major challenges: (1) “In the new world of the Sustainable Development Goals, all countries have become ‘developing’ countries. The goals are universal, and all countries have signed up for them. The artificial distinction of a first, second, and third world is behind us; and (2) Sustainability poses an ‘evidence’ challenge to us as evaluators. While the evidence-based movement continues to focus on what works ‘here and now,’ sustainability requires us to also provide evidence on what works ‘there and then,’ for future generations.”

Cindy Clapp-Wincek of AEA reports on the meeting of the Inter-Agency Expert Group (IAEG) to discuss indicators for the new SDGs:

The vitally important task of determining the indicators for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 SDG targets was entrusted to the Statistical Commission of the U.N. To accomplish this, the Commission formed the Inter-Agency Expert Group (IAEG) from member countries. There have been several rounds of open consultation on candidate indicators between July and October, and this IAEG meeting was to review and discuss the current set of candidates.

All candidate indicators were color-coded. Green indicators currently have general acceptance or only small modifications, yellow indicators were initially problematic but were resolved during the meetings, and gray indicators need more in-depth discussion or methodological development. This meeting largely focused on trying to shift yellow indicators to either green or gray. By the end of the meeting, 159 indicators were classified as green.

If you are interested, here is the process for further developing and completing the set of indicators. The IAEG will present its proposed indicators (the greens) to the Statistical Commission next March. They will then present a refined list to a higher-level U.N. group in June and to the U.N. General Assembly in September 2016.

On a personal note, I, Cindy, have watched over the past several months as the IAEG has heroically struggled with working through several hundred candidate indicators. The members deserve real credit for the incredible progress they have made in a short period. At the same time, even with this phenomenal progress, there are currently no indicators for quite a few of the SDG concepts. Further work will be supported by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, as well as others, such as December’s Climate Conference in Paris. The work of these dedicated professionals is not yet finished.


Request for Letters of Interest: AEA Graduate Education Diversity Internship

Key Deadlines
Program Chair and Host Institution: 2016-2018
Deadline: January 15, 2016  

Are you committed to fostering the growth of the next generation of evaluators? Are you a faculty member or practitioner committed to the involvement of members of traditionally underrepresented groups in the field of evaluation? Are you looking for an opportunity to take an important volunteer position within AEA?

The American Evaluation Association is seeking a program chair, or program co-chairs, to serve for two years (academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18) as the program chair for the AEA Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) program. This program brings together a cohort of 10-12 outstanding graduate students from around the country for a 10-month internship consisting of workshops, training, networking, and mentoring opportunities.

Program Overview

The interns gather for the first time in August and/or early September for three days to receive an orientation to the program, evaluation, and culturally responsive evaluation practice. The students attend the AEA Annual Conference for a full week in the fall, where they attend pre-conference workshops and multiple education sessions. They also meet with the program chair to give updates on their evaluation-focused service learning project.

The students gather again in January or February for three days to receive further training as well as coaching and feedback on their progress related to their internship projects. They gather for a final time for four days in June at the AEA Summer Institute to present and receive feedback on their final projects, attend the Institute, and take part in a commencement ceremony. Concurrently, they participate in a 10-month site-based internship placement that provides them with real-time, hands-on practice in evaluation skills.

Program Purpose

The purpose of the program is to increase the participation of evaluators from underrepresented groups in the profession and in AEA.  

Program Goals 

The goals of the program are to:

  1. Recruit graduate students of color and other underrepresented groups to extend their research capacities to evaluation;
  2. Stimulate evaluation thinking concerning underrepresented communities; and
  3. Deepen the evaluation profession's capacity to work in racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse settings.

Program Chair

The program chair is responsible for the following key facets of the internship program. Past program chairs have elected to designate a program co-chair to assist with administrative tasks and cohort oversight. This assistance is highly recommended. The expenses for such assistance would come out of the total stipend amount. No additional funding is provided by AEA.

  1. Overseeing the curriculum: The program chair will build on the existing curriculum to refine a curricular framework for the program that spans the two stand-alone trainings and is supplemented by thoughtful workshop and session selection for the conference and Summer Institute.
  2. Facilitating training: The program chair will provide introductory evaluation training and coaching to the interns during the two stand-alone trainings and any conference call follow-ups and will work with the AEA staff to arrange for outside speakers and facilitators to supplement their offerings. For example, the program chair might facilitate/coach approximately 50 percent of the opening workshop training and 25 percent of the winter training, with the content provided by the program chair supplemented during the training retreats by site visits, discussion groups, and the presentations of other facilitators. Presumably, co-chairs would facilitate a larger percentage, drawing on the expertise of two leaders.
  3. Serving as coach: The program chair will guide the interns through the program via monthly conference calls and email exchanges. While the program chair is not responsible for serving as a mentor per se, they will help students move through the program and connect with other professionals and resources.
  4. Serving as host: The program chair serves as host at all four events, as well as any conference calls, connecting with the interns, welcoming them, and encouraging networking and professional growth.

AEA staff will be responsible for the operational aspects of the program, including overseeing student recruitment, handling logistics for all meetings, and funds management. The AEA staff and program chair will work collaboratively on selecting and securing placement sites. The program chair will work collaboratively with the AEA executive director to set policies regarding recruitment and identification of an advisory board responsible for student selection and general guidance for the program. The extent to which the chair participates in the selection and advisory process is at the chair’s discretion.

Chair Criteria

The program chair should meet the following six criteria:

  • Have completed a master’s or doctoral degree and be teaching or practicing in the field of evaluation
  • Have experience of successful teaching or training in the field of evaluation or related areas
  • Possess knowledge of the needs and experiences of traditionally underrepresented students and/or students of color
  • Have knowledge of culturally responsive evaluation practices
  • Have the ability to guide or coach students or young professionals
  • Be available to attend four training opportunities each year for the next two years as described above

This is primarily a volunteer, service-focused position. The program chair will receive travel support (airfare, accommodations, and registration) for the Summer Institute and for either of the stand-alone trainings not held within driving distance. The program chair will also be reimbursed for a hotel for up to three nights at the Annual Conference, recognizing the need to arrive early or stay late in support of the student interns. In addition, the program chair will receive a stipend of $10,000 in recognition of the facilitation work involved in leading this program.

In most recent years, the chair has also created opportunities for members of their internal team to participate in the process to learn how the program works and to offer administrative support and guidance.

Application Process

To apply on or before January 15, 2016, please submit a letter of interest and a curriculum vitae or résumé via email to The letter should be no more than three pages in length and should detail:

  1. the ways in which you meet each of the six specified criteria;
  2. why you are interested in leading this program;
  3. any unique qualities, experiences, or background that you bring to this opportunity that would further enhance your ability to fulfill the role; and
  4. any specific support your place of employment/institution plans to offer you in this endeavor.

Questions? Please contact Denise Roosendaal, AEA executive director, at or (202) 367-1166.


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