AEA Newsletter: October 2015

Message from the Executive Director - How Green is the Evaluation 2015 Conference? 

From Denise Roosendaal, AEA Executive Director 

Denise_Roosendaal_111811_144.jpgWe’re thrilled that so many AEA members are planning to be in Chicago to learn, network, and contribute to the evaluation field at the Evaluation 2015 conference. Conferences are a great way to network and build knowledge on best practices. At the same time, we are increasingly sensitive to the   environmental impacts of the conference. Our awareness was heightened this year as a result of our recently completed Green Audit. We learned in the audit process that AEA’s carbon footprint – the amount of greenhouse gases generated by our activities – is mostly attributable to our annual conference, with air travel being the biggest contributor to our conference’s carbon footprint. (To learn about the specific results, attend the session at the conference on the Green Audit. See details below.)

So I’m excited to let you know that this year, AEA members can participate in the conference without any travel at all. While nothing replaces the benefits of live interaction with your colleagues, this virtual conference component (complimentary registration) does allow virtual attendees to experience the Presidential Strand sessions and the four plenaries (28 total sessions) through the convenience of a computer at home or the office. Our new technology features live audio/video feeds and the ability to network online with fellow virtual attendees. An AEA member moderator will be onsite to bring your questions into the live audience. The platform will also allow for viewers to chat with each other and with the moderator, in addition to viewing PowerPoint presentations.   

I hope that you’ll take note of some of our other efforts to make this year’s conference the greenest to date. The mobile conference app is one way to help make the conference less reliant on paper. This year’s mobile app includes many changes based on last year’s feedback.

You will now be able to:

  • Search all session presenters and abstract titles
  • Build your agenda and access it automatically in your mobile app (must be signed in to utilize this feature)
  • Organize concurrent sessions by topical interest groups
  • Access speaker contact information through the app     
  • Provide feedback to individual sessions
  • Upload photos and share posts with other mobile app users through the activity stream
  • Find room numbers easily when you click on the session
  • Easily navigate the conference venue with clearer maps

Hotel operations also contribute to the carbon footprint of the conference. This year’s conference hotel, the Hyatt Regency, has achieved Trip Advisor Green Leader – Silver Level. This rating system addresses green practices including energy and water use, waste and recycling, and cleaning and purchasing. The Hyatt Regency has also earned LEED Gold certification for the recent expansion, which includes a green roof, water efficient plumbing and irrigation systems, regionally sourced construction materials, and more. Please let the Hyatt Regency staff know how much you appreciate their efforts.

Now we need you. Thanks to the support and guidance of the AEA Environmental Sustainability Audit Working Group led by Beverly Parsons, we recently completed a Green Audit of our operations. The working group has planned a special session for you to learn about AEA’s Green Audit and discuss practical ways for evaluators to contribute to environmental sustainability. Our consultant, Mirele Goldsmith, will present the audit results, and we’ll hear from other AEA members who are “greening” their organizations and practices. Most importantly, we’ll be asking for your ideas about our next steps.  What do you think we should be doing to make the conference, AEA, and the evaluation field green?  Please join us at Evaluation 2015 for Environmental Audits for a Sustainable Future on Thursday, November 12, from 4:45 to 6:15 p.m. to share your thoughts.


Diversity - Broaden Your Evaluation Lens at Evaluation 2015   

From Zachary Grays, AEA Headquarters 

Zachary Grays.jpgThe Windy City is host to Evaluation 2015 and we are incredibly excited to celebrate what’s expected to be the highest attended conference in the history of AEA.  In line with the conference theme and the International Year of Evaluation, attendees are encouraged to explore the diverse “playground” that’s in store through the robust conference program offerings and planned festivities meant to engage the ever-growing, global evaluation profession. I implore you all to take the time to check out just a few the wonderful sessions and unique happenings that will broaden your evaluation lens. The following are just a few exciting items you should consider adding to your agenda for Evaluation 2015.


The Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) recently commenced its 12th cohort with new scholars Nancy Mendoza, Dani Gorman, Dominic Combs, Ibukun Owoputi, Jamie Vickery, Kenneth Pass, Leah Peoples, Marques Hogans, Monique Liston, Agustin Herera, and Thana-Ashley Charles joining the program under the direction of program directors Dr. Ashaki Jackson and Dr. Stewart Donaldson. The cohort, the largest in the history of the program, will soon be on their way to Evaluation 2015 in Chicago, Illinois, where they will begin their first major program evaluation of the academic year.

Join Dr. Ashaki Jackson and GEDI alumni Danielle Cummings, Kisha Woods, Kristin Mendoza, and Natalia Woolley for their panel AEA GEDI 2015 Panel — Lesson Learned on Friday, November 13, 2015 from 3:30 – 4:15 p.m. in Skyway 273. Panelists will discuss lessons from their yearlong program, including applying, creating values about, and examining strategies that incorporate cultural competence in evaluation.


Join Tamarah Moss, Julia Lechuga, Tiffeny Jiminez, Jose Munoz, and Elizabeth Williams (2014/2015 MSI Fellows) on Friday, November 13, 2015 from 1:45 – 3:15 p.m. in Skyway 285 for Exploring the Cultural Landscape — A Transdisciplinary Literature Review. Led by program director Art Hernandez, the graduating cohort will conduct a panel on understanding the role of culture across multiple levels of analysis and a review that explores literature over the past 20 years and includes a table of common keywords, main constructs, methods, or related topics prominent in each discipline’s journals.

CREA Workshops 

The Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) has partnered with the American Evaluation Association (AEA) to offer a unique thread of professional development training options as part of the pre- and post-conference professional development workshops during Evaluation 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. CREA has created six workshop opportunities that focus on evaluation theory, methods, and practice grounded in culturally responsive evaluation. The following workshops are being offered as a part of this exciting partnership.

  • Original Instructions: Utilizing Indigenous Knowledge, Frameworks, & Case Studies to Inform & Transform Evaluation Practice - Tuesday, November 10, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Results Based Accountability - Tuesday, November 10, from 8 a.m. 4 p.m. at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business' Gleacher Center. This workshop is free for all attendees.
  • Cultural Responsiveness and Mixed Methods Research - Wednesday, November 11, from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
  • Foundations of Culturally Responsive Evaluation - Wednesday, November 11, from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
  • Utilization of a Racial Equity Lens to Help Guide Strategic Evaluation - Wednesday, November 11, from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Culturally Relevant Evaluation and Research from a Quantitative Perspective - Wednesday, November 11, from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
  • The Role of Focus Groups in Culturally Responsive Evaluation - Saturday, November 14, from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

To learn more about these offerings and more, click here.

Silent Auction

One of the highlights of every AEA conference is Friday night's silent auction, which is coordinated by AEA's International and Cross-Cultural Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The proceeds benefit AEA's International Travel Awards and are used to offset travel expenses for presenters who reside in developing countries or countries in transition and to encourage their participation internationally. This year we are excited to announce that we were able to award nine international travel awards to your fellow evaluators from across the globe.

Drop by on Friday, November 13, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. to support this year’s silent auction. If you would like to donate something, please feel free to bring it along and drop it at the AEA conference registration desk. If you have any questions, please email Hubert Paulmer, silent auction coordinator, at

These are just a few of the fantastic happenings celebrating and addressing diversity here at AEA and in the evaluation profession. Be sure to add these wonderful sessions to your agenda on the AEA mobile app. Want to build your agenda online? Click here to get started. For assistance with building your agenda, contact We can’t wait to see you all in Chicago in November!

Have a story to share for the AEA diversity column? Contact me at to learn more on how to share your diversity in evaluation stories. I would love to share your story!


Potent Presentations Initiative - Last Chance for Maximum Impact!

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator 

“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sheila Robinson-RS 2.pngHere we are in the last days of Potent Presentation preparation, wondering where all the time went. When we received acceptance notices last summer, it felt as if we had forever to prepare – am I right?

No worries! P2i features some key resources you can use to put the finishing touches on your presentation and polish up for the big day. 

Will your audience be excited about your presentation? Will they stay engaged with your message and content? Will they learn something from you and have ideas to take away and remember? Or will they simply keep a chair warm in your session room while they check email, text friends, or surf the web? Download the Audience Engagement Strategy book for more than 20 ways to connect with your audience and keep them involved in your presentation.  Whether you’re giving a 15-minute paper presentation, or facilitating an all-day workshop, your audience deserves your best efforts to engage their minds. Learn to use everything from simple strategic eye contact to more complex movement activities to keep participants in your session from turning off or tuning out.

Think your presentation is potent enough already? Have you lined up your family, friends, or coworkers to concur with you on this? Download the Presentation Assessment Rubric, assemble the group, and distribute copies to them for a practice run to gather their feedback about key aspects of your message, design, and delivery. No one available or willing to listen to a presentation on evaluation? It happens! Use the rubric as a self-assessment tool as you practice on your own. 

Are you chairing a session at the conference? If so, don’t miss the opportunity to check out p2i’s Session Chairs Checklist. Be sure you’ve taken steps to contact presenters in your session, familiarize yourself with their content, and be ready to do a high-quality job in this important role at the session. (Pro tip: Ask session presenters their preferred names, and confirm proper pronunciations.) 

Finally, get ready for some nerves. Fear of public speaking, glossophobia, is shared by an estimated 75% of all presenters. A recent Ethos3 Blog: Presentation Tips and Tricks article, Fight Your Fear of Public Speaking – 4 Proven Methods, features descriptions of helpful mindsets to adopt prior to presentation time, along with links to additional resources on navigating your nerves. 

Best wishes to all presenters! See you in Chicago!

p2i October 2015 Image_RS.png








Will this be YOUR audience? 

(Image: Anthony Delanoix via


Policy Watch - Join the Discussion on EPTF Efforts at Evaluation 2015 

From Cheryl Oros, Consultant to the Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF)

Cheryl Oros.jpgI hope you can join us at the annual AEA Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) update and discussion session at Evaluation 2015 in Chicago on Friday, November 13, from 4:30 - 5:15 p.m. in Skyway 272 (Session 2959). 

The AEA Board of Directors established the EPTF in 2007 to enhance AEA's ability to identify and influence policies that have a broad effect on evaluation practice and to establish a framework and procedures for accomplishing this objective. The EPTF has issued key documents promoting a wider role for evaluation in the federal government, influenced legislation and executive policy, and informed AEA members and others about the value of evaluation through public presentations and newsletter articles. It has also connected with other national evaluation organizations and governments and reached out to state evaluation offices and organizations. 

During the session we will provide an overview of the EPTF and the recent broad events surrounding it, as well as a summary of the work of the EPTF this past year. Come and meet the EPTF members. I will facilitate a discussion involving EPTF members and the audience about the recent activities and future plans of the EPTF. As comments and suggestion have proven quite useful in the past, we hope for more member input on EPTF plans and actions.


International Policy Update - Two Thumbs Up for These 18 Internationally Focused AEA Conference Sessions

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

RS - Mike Hendricks.png    Jim Rugh 2010.01.16.JPG

Feeling a little overwhelmed by the incredible number and variety of internationally focused sessions at the upcoming AEA conference in Chicago? Well, you’re not alone – so are we! It’s a great tribute to everyone who put together the conference that we have such richness to choose from, but it also makes it hard to decide which sessions to attend.

This is obviously a personal decision, and we urge you to start looking through the conference program as soon as possible. But for what it might (or might not) be worth, we’ve put our heads together, and here are 18 sessions we think are especially promising. Please don’t be offended if we’ve not highlighted your session – we count at least 82 internationally focused sessions over the four days, so we could pick only about one in five options during many of the timeslots. No doubt the other 64 sessions will be equally enjoyable and informative.

Whichever sessions you attend, we hope you enjoy Evaluation 2015, and we look forward to meeting you there in person. It’s going to be a terrific conference!

Wednesday, November 11

3:15 – 4:15      Opening Ceremony and Presidential Address: “Exemplary Evaluations in a Multicultural World”

4:30 – 6:00      Panel WPS1: “Exemplary High-Impact Interventions and Evaluations from Around the World: Views from Association Presidents”

7:00 – 9:00      Opening reception: Meet the Authors and View Poster Presentations (including 14 internationally focused posters)


Thursday, November 12

7:00 – 7:45      Panel 1660: “Exemplary Evaluations That Make a Difference: Stories From Around the World”

8:00 – 9:30      Panel WPS5: “Perspectives on Evaluation in Europe: Currents, Contexts and Exemplars”

9:45 – 10:45    Plenary: “The International Year of Evaluation”

11:00 – 11:45  Panel WPS6: “Exemplary Positive Approaches to Evaluation: Views from Around the World”

1:00 – 1:45      Panel 2682: “New Developments in Rubric Methodology: Exemplary Cases from Aotearoa/New Zealand and Brazil”

3:00 – 4:30      Panel 1911: “Locally-Made Evaluation Capacity Development (ECD): A Review of International Experiences”

4:45 – 6:15      Panel 1899: “Harnessing the Narrative: SenseMaker as a Monitoring and Evaluation Tool in Complex International Settings”

6:20 – 7:10      Business meeting 3208: International and Cross-Cultural Evaluation (ICCE) Topical Interest Group (TIG)


Friday, November 13

11:00 – 11:45  Roundtable 1791: “Accountability to Communities in Humanitarian Work”

1:45 – 3:15      Panel 1880: “Equity-Focused and Gender-Responsive Evaluation: Real Life Examples from the Field”

6:30 – 8:00      Reception: Silent Auction to Fund AEA’s International Travel Awards


Saturday, November 14

7:00 – 7:45      Roundtable 2098: “New Guidance from Food for Peace to Improve Mid-Term Evaluations”

9:45 – 10:30    Think Tank 2592: “Global Evaluation Agenda 2016-2020: Voices from America”

10:45 – 11:30  Panel WPS20: “Identifying Exemplary Evaluations and the Lessons Learned for Funding Evaluation: The Faster Forward Fund”

11:45 – 12:45  Closing Plenary: “The Future of Exemplary Evaluations: Prospects for a Thriving Global Evaluation Community”


Recent Stories
AEA Newsletter: November 2020

AEA Newsletter: October 2020

AEA Newsletter: September 2020