AEA Newsletter: October 2019


Message from the Executive Director 

Minneapolis Bound...Pack Your Bags for EVal2019!

From Anisha Lewis, AEA Executive Director

Anisha Lewis.jpg

In just a week, more than 3,000 domestic and international attendees will gather to participate in over 700 education sessions at AEA’s Annual Conference in Minneapolis. As we gather on the land of the indigenous people of Minnesota on Nov. 11-16, we will focus not only on education, but collaboration.  We’ll delve into how we can further AEA’s mission and make an impact in the world through evaluation.

Our Topical Interest Group (TIG) program chairs, session chairs, Local Arrangements Working Group, staff, and countless volunteers have worked hard to produce a conference that you don’t want to miss! If you are unable to join us in Minneapolis, we also offer a virtual conference that offers recordings of the plenary sessions.

Highlighted Activities for this Year’s Conference Include:

  • Peer Mentoring Session for early career evaluators
  • Leadership information session for members interested in pursuing leadership opportunities in AEA
  • Opportunities to connect with the board of directors at the Annual Business Meeting
  • Business meetings
  • Meet the Author’s reception and poster presentations
  • Design loft
  • Quant/Qual Café in the exhibit hall
  • Silent auction to raise funds to support international travel awards

New members and first-time attendees are encouraged to attend a rapid fire session, where they will receive a brief orientation on how to navigate the conference.

As AEA’s Executive Director, I would like to thank each of you for your loyal membership within AEA’s community. I look forward to seeing you in Minneapolis!


Potent Presentations Initiative

If Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions—it’s Time to Eat!

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator 

Sheila Robinson.jpg

 Evaluation 2019 is almost here, so it’s a good time to take a breather from presentation design and consider what we can learn from audience feedback to refine our presentation practice. Audience feedback can play an important role in our learning as presenters, and feedback helps us improve──if we take the time to collect, reflect, and then act on it.

During your Presentation

Have a pad and pen available to jot down questions audience members ask, or enlist the help of a friend to attend your presentation and do this for you. Audience questions offer insight into whether or not they understood your message, as well as the aspects of your content that interested them most.

After your Presentation

Reflect on these questions:

  • Did audience members, in fact, ask questions?
  • Did the majority of the audience stay for the entire presentation? (Have someone take a count of audience members at the beginning and end of the presentation.)
  • After the presentation, did audience members stop to personally thank you, ask a question, or share something about themselves or their own work with you?
  • Did they tell you something they particularly liked or enjoyed about your session?
  • Did people approach you the next day with positive comments or questions?
  • Did you receive emails from participants with kudos or questions? Did you receive any social media connection requests?

The answers to all of these make for excellent informal feedback that make presenters feel appreciated and valued, and let us know we did well. It can also clue us in as to what aspects of our presentations were most and least successful with our audience members.

Seek Out and Commit to Reflect on any Feedback You Receive

  • Seek coaching from peers or mentors on areas of improvement. They don’t have to be expert presenters themselves, just willing watchers and listeners.
  • Dedicate yourself to more presentation practice; Engage friends, family, or colleagues. If you are apprehensive or uncomfortable practicing in front of people, start with pets (yes, really!). They’re generally non-judgmental. Use a mirror and watch yourself present. You can also record yourself to study and time your performance.
  • Practice your presentation after the conference to receive feedback and coaching relative to audience feedback you received at the conference.
  • Develop a plan for improvement and prioritize areas to address such as vocal volume, hand gestures, or body language.
  • Find other venues in which to obtain some general practice. If it’s public speaking skills, join a meet-up or Toastmasters group on public speaking. If it’s slide design, commit to reading blogs, or studying published slide decks for design inspiration.


What if You Receive Little or no Feedback?

What if people left your session before the end? What if they asked no questions? What then? While this may not necessarily indicate an unsuccessful presentation, you may want to be proactive and take action for your next presentation to ensure you receive some actionable feedback.

Take action for the future:

  1. Plan for feedback from participants and even directly ask for it.
  2. Prepare your own feedback sheet (or online survey) and ask participants to complete it at the end of your session.
  3. Ask a friend or colleague to attend your session and focus on participants. Ask the colleague to note signs of audience engagement or disengagement, and take down any questions audience members ask, or any comments and notes they make during the presentation.

And as author Ken Blanchard best said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”


The Face of AEA

Featuring Adam Gold

adam gold.jpgName: Adam Gold

Degrees: Master’s in Education Policy and Evaluation, B.S. in Psychology

Years in the Evaluation Field: 1 year

Joined AEA: 2019

Why do you belong to AEA?

One of my biggest regrets is not joining AEA earlier. The first day I logged on, I was in awe of the amount of resources available to me. I could continue my education through online journals, on-demand courses, topical blogs, and webinars. I could network through the various discussion boards and topical interest groups offered. I gained access to a list of careers offered by organizations connected with the field of evaluation.

Since that day, I’ve absorbed information on a variety of topics such as program theory, the role of technology in evaluation, coding in R, and more. I’ve also joined two TIGs and look forward to becoming more active in any way I can. AEA is an ideal setting for any evaluator looking to expand their knowledge, connections, and opportunities in the field. Evaluators who intend to take advantage of all the resources provided and use them to contribute to the field should consider joining.

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

Evaluation creates deep understanding by bridging the gap between scientific inquiry and humanitarian efforts. It deeply examines the problems that hinder our society. It considers the human element, striving to involve stakeholders in every step of the process. It considers how contextual and situational factors affect every stage of a solution from its implementation to its outcomes. It equips clients with the information needed to make meaningful change. I choose to work in this field because I can think of no other profession that addresses issues with more proficiency, conscientiousness, or wisdom than evaluation.

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

In my short time working in this field, I have played a role in the evaluation of several programs. For me, the most memorable and meaningful evaluations are the ones that demonstrate how deep a problem can root. I consider the evaluations I worked on well designed: they conducted formative assessments periodically, included wraparound services considerate of the intended beneficiaries’ needs, and derived input from stakeholders of varying roles; however, they were negatively impacted by factors that seemed outside of our control.

These experiences have also inspired me to put more consideration into planning and more emphasis on communication. Through their experiences, evaluators can prepare stakeholders for possible setbacks. Through open-dialogue, evaluators can help stakeholders recognize potential setbacks before they happen. Challenges can tempt us to accept that they are beyond our control; however, they can also inspire us to think deeply about their causes. If solutions can be produced from the mistakes of the past, they can prevent failures in the future.

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

As a graduate student, my goal was to be career ready upon graduation. I was determined to work as much possible in the field to ensure I would have enough experience to be competitive in the job market. Finding a job in my city was not as easy as I expected; there were few organizations hiring for evaluators, or other evaluator-like positions, and the organizations that were hiring had a pool of other evaluation students to choose from. For anyone looking to gain experience in the field of evaluation, I offer the following advice: expand your search, consider research, and network.

A job or internship is great if you can find one, but a more practical route for gaining experience is conducting research. Working as an assistant/intern for a study being conducted at your institution or conducting your own study can help you gain relevant skills such as information collection, survey design, and data management which will augment your resume. This is especially true if the study involves commonly used programs like SPSS, SAS, R, Nvivo, and Qualtrics (to name a few).

My last word of advice is to expand your professional network as much as possible. Anyone who is still an evaluation student is in a uniquely advantageous position. Professors, mentors, and peers are available to discuss potential career paths or opportunities available. If you’ve already graduated your evaluation program, you still have an opportunity to network. Any evaluator can connect with their colleges through AEA and its local affiliates.


TIG Update

Design and Analysis of Experiments 

From Carl Westine, Ben Kelcey, and Keith Zvoch; Design and Analysis of Experiments TIG Co-chairs

Who We Are

The Design and Analysis of Experiments Topical Interest Group (DAE TIG) seeks to carve out intentional conversations regarding the context, methodology, and process of planning and conducting experiments (i.e., those studies that involve randomization of units to treatment and control conditions). While we all are engaged in many different types of quantitative evaluations, we represent a growing group of evaluators who share a common interest in all things related to experimental designs. The DAE TIG provides a space for delving into the intellectual and practical challenges of conducting experimental evaluations.

What's New

We are excited to share multiple ways to connect with DAE TIG related content and members:

  • This year at AEA 2019, we are excited to be hosting Dr. Stephen Bell, Head of Evaluation Research at Westat, during our annual business meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 14. Bell will be speaking about the role of external validity in evaluations. His talk, "The External Validity Challenge: Reaching Beyond the Study Sample to Make Experimental Evidence Reliable for the Political Jurisdiction Seeking Policy Guidance" will emphasize the important role evaluators of the future will play through design efforts to lead and inform policy decision-making.
  • Recently the American Journal of Evaluation introduced a new topical section that focuses on experimental methodology. Our former TIG chair Laura Peck is now serving as editor of this section.
  • We also have had several DAE TIG members release books related to evaluation design in the SAGE Quantitaitve Applications in the Social Sciences series. Eric Hedberg and M.H. Clark both recently published books on power analysis and propensity score matching, respectively. Laura Peck has a new book, Experimental Evaluation Design for Program Improvement in the SAGE Evaluation Practice Series.
  • Finally, an important initiative championed by one of our DAE TIG members, Jessaca Spybrook, seeks to engage the experimental design community in registering efficacy and effectiveness studies (REES). While the focus of her work pertains to educational evaluations, the role of registries in evaluation is an important development for experimental evaluators in the future.

Get Involved 

We are gearing up for AEA 2019, and hope you will join us in Minneapolis. Please reach out to Carl Westine ( or Ben Kelcey ( if you are interested in becoming involved with the DAE TIG or discussing how the efforts above relate to your TIG.

Do you lead or participate in one of AEA's Topical Interest Groups (TIGs)? We want to hear from you and spotlight your work. Send an email to the AEA editor, Cady Stokes ( to share news, updates and articles for consideration in an upcoming AEA newsletter.


TIG Update

Yearly Activities Update : Independent Consulting (IC) 

This year, the Independent Consulting (IC) TIG leadership selected Community Building as our “right thing, right now.” We have been working hard to build our community by increasing engagement and value of the IC TIG Community. We’re doing this through several projects:
Mastermind Groups: We recently launched the IC TIG Mastermind program! The purpose of a “mastermind” group is to navigate through challenges using the collective intelligence and support of like-minded peers. Our groups are relatively small, consisting of 4-6 members who are in similar growth stages of evaluation business. We had about 45 members sign up for groups, which started meeting virtually in September. The groups have also been encouraged to meet in-person in November at the 2019 AEA Conference in Minneapolis.

Accessible Training Opportunities: We also launched online training and group coaching sessions, and an in-person all-day workshop at heavily discounted rates for the TIG members. The topics are specifically about business development and operations, catered to the consultant community, delivered by our leadership and members.

TIG Calendar: We are putting together a calendar of key dates with relevant links to keep every member updated and provide an easy one-stop-shop for engaging with our community.

TIG Website Value: We are discussing how to make the TIG website valuable and keep our members connected to our community. The leadership brainstormed several ideas about the content and format that would increase the website’s value for TIG members.

Newsletter Value: The newsletter is already in pretty good shape, but we want to keep increasing its value. We know it takes a lot to get people to read an email. We are brainstorming ways that we can make the newsletter an even better way to connect with our TIG community. We will also be reaching out to TIG members to include more member highlights in each newsletter. So stay tuned! 

Conference Engagement: First, we focused efforts on getting more session submissions from people who have not presented before. Second, we continued activities for engaging our TIG members at the conference, considering how to make engagement easier and deeper than in previous years.

Member Connection: We want every member to feel like they are welcomed by and connected to other members of our TIG. In addition to the member highlights in our newsletter, the leadership will be reaching out TIG members individually to see how we can make them engaged with the IC TIG community.

Do you lead or participate in one of AEA's Topical Interest Groups (TIGs)? We want to hear from you and spotlight your work. Send an email to the AEA editor, Cady Stokes ( to share news, updates and articles for consideration in an upcoming AEA newsletter.


Applications Sought for AEA Representative to Joint Committee

Membership Committee (2).pngCreated in 1975, the Joint Committee (JC) on Standards for Educational Evaluation is a coalition of major professional associations dedicated to promoting high quality evaluation based on sound evaluation practices and procedures. The Joint Committee has published three sets of standards for evaluations that are now widely recognized. The Personnel Evaluation Standards (2nd edition) was published in 2008, The Program Evaluation Standards (3rd edition) was published in 2010, and The Student Evaluation Standards was published in 2003.

AEA's representative to the Joint Committee works with JC colleagues while representing a stance in alignment with AEA's Mission, Vision, and Values. She or he acts independently, yet brings questions or concerns back to the AEA leadership and ensures that the voice of AEA members is reflected throughout review and vetting processes. The representative will serve a three-year term beginning January 1, 2020 and ending December 31, 2023.

The person serving in this position is likely a senior member, dedicated to the field, and with a knowledge of the breadth and depth of practice required to speak authoritatively when developing and refining evaluation standards. Individuals seeking to serve need to have a demonstrated range of experience in evaluation, and a commitment to representing the diversity of people and perspectives reflected in the field and membership.

The Joint Committee meets generally once a year, each fall. In addition, the JC sponsors a session at the AEA annual conference and occasionally hosts field trials. The AEA representative would have her or his expenses paid to attend the Joint Committee meeting and up to one field trial or other standards-related gathering in a year (although in most years there are none). He

or she should anticipate ongoing correspondence and potentially participation on a JC subcommittee that would conduct its work via conference call and email.

To learn more about the work of the Joint Committee, please review the JC website: Our current representative, Kathy Tibbetts, is completing her term and is available for inquiries if you have specific questions regarding the position. She may be reached at

If you are interested in being considered as AEA's representative, please compile the following into a single file and submit it by Dec. 1, 2019.

  • A one-page statement of interest telling us why you would like to serve
  • A one-page bio reflecting your evaluation background and commitment to the mission, vision, and values of the association
  • A current curriculum vita or resume

Please send your submission file via email to the AEA office at

If you should have questions, please do not hesitate to contact AEA Executive Director Anisha Lewis at


Oxford's Most Recent Evaluation, Research, and Nonprofit Publications

Available with AEA's Discounted Price 

AEA wants to ensure members are aware of Oxford’s most recent evaluation, research, and nonprofit publications that are all available at the discounted price with the AEA’s code:

AEA members receive 20% off on publications from our publishing partners: Corwin Press, Jossey Bass, Lyceum, SAGE, and Wiley when ordering directly from the publisher. AEA members also receive 25% and free shipping using promotional code: AFAEA with Guilford. Please join us in thanking these publishers for their ongoing support of the association and the field, and be sure to stop by their tables at the annual conference.

Limitations: Each publisher uses a slightly different process and you must use the process specified in the link below in order to access your discount - discounts will not be applied retroactively. In all cases, the discount applies to the price of the item itself and may not be applied towards shipping or taxes or added to other discounts.

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


Quant/Qual Café at AEA Conference 2019

Don't miss your opportunity to get free advice on quantitative and qualitative methods or research design questions you have during AEA's conference! 

Our consultants will provide advice on research designs, analysis, best methodology, data management, negotiate with funders on evaluations and on ways to visualize the data in both quantitative and qualitative methods.

AEA participants are encouraged to bring your evaluation design/research design/quantitative/qualitative questions to the consultants. If you bring a laptop with your statistical or qualitative software, we may also be able to provide specific answers for the software you use. If we are not able to answer on the spot, we will get back to you post conference

When: Thursday, November 14, 1:45-2:30 p.m. & Friday, November 15, 2:15-3:25 p.m.
Location: Exhibit Hall

AEA Silent Auction to Benefit Traveling Presenters 

The Silent Auction is an annual event sponsored by the International Cross-Cultural Evaluation (ICCE) TIG held on Friday night of the AEA Evaluation 2019 conference. This year, the Silent Auction will be held on Friday, November 15, 2019, at 6:45 p.m. (please refer to the AEA conference program for the exact room/venue).

The money raised at the Silent Auction is used 100% to provide travel grants to first-time attendees from developing countries presenting at the AEA conference. The AEA Board matches the funds raised, doubling the pot for travel grants.

The items at the Silent Auction are donated by AEA conference attendees from around the world, evaluation associations/societies (AEA, AES, and CES), training institutes (e.g., The Evaluators' Institute, Claremont Evaluation Center), publishing companies, and authors of evaluation books. Additionally, your evaluation gurus donate an hour of their time ─ which you can also bid on to have impactful discussions with them.

The Silent Auction is an excellent networking event. You are encouraged to bring something to donate and also bid. It is a unique one-stop event. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to email


 Experience Evaluation 2019 from the Comfort of Your Home or Office

Virtual Conference Registration is Now Open! 

Attending Evaluation 2019 in person is a great opportunity to learn and network with your peers, but if you can’t join us in Minneapolis, AEA offers another solution – the Virtual Conference!

Last year, evaluators from more than 65 countries joined us virtually. Consider registering for our 2019 Virtual Conference experience to connect with peers from across the globe and to:

  • Live-stream Evaluation 2019 Presidential Strand Plenaries
  • Receive three-month access to recorded Presidential Strand sessions and all four plenary sessions after the conference
  • Enjoy valuable evaluation content without the hassle of travel expenses

The Virtual Conference costs $50 for members and $100 for non-membersSecure your spot today!


AEA Town Halls


The 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. See past webinars here.



AEA Professional Development Corner 

On-Demand Resources Available

From the AEA Education Team 

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. 

AEA eStudies: Something for Everyone

In-depth eStudy courses offer a deep dive into top-of-mind evaluation themes and topics. Open to both members and nonmembers alike, eStudies provide a diverse learning experience where collaboration is encouraged. Take a look at some sessions perfect for young evaluators and students. Not a beginner? We've rounded up some of our most popular eStudies you don't want to miss! 

Student eStudies:

Popular eStudies:



Take a Coffee Break with AEA:

Coffee Breaks are 20 minute presentations that provide insights into niche topics impacting evaluation practice and introduce new tools to evaluators. Coffee Breaks are offered exclusively to AEA members. If you are not a member, learn more here.
You can also access past Coffee Breaks though the Digital Knowledge Hub - Coffee Breaks.

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

Be Part of the Canadian Evaluation Society Annual Conference

aea CES.pngThe Canadian Evaluation Society cordially invites you to participate as a presenter, attendee, sponsor, or exhibitor in its 2020 annual conference. The 2020 CES conference will explore the theme of "Evaluation use: achieving our potential?" and will be hosted in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada), June 13-17, 2020.

The Calls for Proposals for papers, workshops, and thematic breakfasts are now available and explain the rules of the game and expectations placed on proposals. Please note is our workshop dates are on June 13-14, allowing half-day, full-day, and two-day workshops.

Proposals will be accepted between November 1 and December 8 at (no extensions will be granted) and decisions will be issued on January 17, 2020. The conference website offers important additional information on the theme and values of the conference as well as how the conference is addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion, sustainability, and cultural appropriation.


Submit a Topical Interest Group (TIG) Update

Submit an Article or Update for an Upcoming AEA Newsletter 

Do you lead or participate in one of AEA's Topical Interest Groups (TIGs)? We want to hear from you and spotlight your work. Send an email to the AEA editor, Cady Stokes ( to share news, updates and articles for consideration in an upcoming AEA newsletter.

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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