AEA Newsletter: November 2019

Message from the President

Thank You from AEA

From Tessie Catsambas, AEA President

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Dear AEA Colleagues,

What an amazing conference we just had in Minneapolis! The AEA staff and volunteers worked above and beyond to serve the more than 2,900 participants who attended.

This year, our conference featured evaluation leaders from across AEA. They brought a range of engaging ideas, key trends, and developments, informing our paths to the future of evaluation. Presenters focused on a wide range of issues, and invariably, captured the hearts and minds of attendees.

The image below starting from the left are the Friday plenary speakers: I am next to Khalil Bitar and Glenda Eoyang, along with Dominica McBride and Michael Quinn Patton, who hosted the session. The image on the right shows Tom Archibald as he introduces the closing plenary panel (Jennifer Greene, Stafford Hood, Art Hernandez, Donna Podems, and Mel Mark). They were all magnificent!

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A warm congratulations to the more than 1,000 conference presenters and to all of our impressive AEA award winners. You truly give life to AEA.

In addition to the excellent presentations and heartwarming reunions, the AEA Evaluation Conference was an opportunity for productive collaboration among members of our community. The AEA Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) team reported on AEA’s participation in public hearings on the 2018 Evidence Act. The EPTF has been helping us work toward staying relevant and active while embracing the opportunities created by this new legislation.

We also engaged in open discussions on AEA competencies and how they might be used to inform evaluation job descriptions for new evaluation officers in federal agencies, mandated under the new Evidence Act.

And, with support from EvalPartners co-chairs Andrea Cook, Director of Evaluation of the World Food Programme, and Adeline Sibanda, President of the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), we explored common ground among different competency frameworks from around the world. These efforts are managed by Susan Tucker, Chair of the Competencies Working Group; she welcomes everyone’s involvement. Stay tuned for exciting developments in this area.

Aside from international leaders, we were also fortunate to have at the conference evaluation leaders of associations from across the United States. Many of them are members of AEA and help us connect with communities across the United States. Together, we explored ideas for peer support, collaboration, and advocacy for evaluation in cities and states (see photo below).

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Finally, a big thank you to AEA board members for their service in 2019. Throughout the year, they have shown their commitment of ensuring accountability and stewardship of AEA funds, they explored trends that relevant to the future of AEA, worked to position this organization to influence the world of evaluation, and strived to serve values of inclusion promoting member engagement. It has been an honor to work with this wonderful board to serve our community.

Congratulations to the top three videos in the video project that invited youth and emerging evaluator voices into #Eval19! They invite us into a future where data-driven organizations embed evaluation and clear goals, drive evaluative thinking, and listen to youth as a routine evaluative practice. I urge you to watch them!

The AEA Board continues to think about how to best serve members in a complex space of evaluation funding where many others are active – statisticians, economists, researchers, data analytics experts, and others. We have a lot to offer, and we will keep working to get smarter about it. A new Evaluation Commissioners Task Force is being established in December to work over six months; they will then inform AEA on the types of evaluations key actors will be commissioning.

In the interest of learning, we want this task force to have both those whose evaluations are implemented by AEA members, and those who seek their evaluators elsewhere. If you have suggestions on people knowledgeable about this space, please send your suggestions to As our current board only has one commissioner among its members, this task force will provide valuable insight on funding trends in evaluation that will be shared with members.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I feel a deep gratitude for each and every one of you – new members and AEA veterans, managers and members of TIGs, working groups, task forces, our esteemed AJE and NDE editors, U.S.-based and international members, EvalPartners reps and board members, and of course, the AEA staff who always serves us effectively with a smile. We have a vibrant and rich community ready to serve an increasingly diverse society, enable peaceful conversations, address bias in big data systems, and bring greater clarity and mutual understanding in public service.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving.


Evaluation 2019: The Highlights

Thank you for joining AEA for Evaluation 2019. We hope you made the most of Minneapolis and were able to make meaningful connections and fill your notebooks with tips, insights, and best practices from the conference. Here are just a few highlights we are excited to share:

  • AEA welcomed more than 200 speakers and hosted 800 sessions, 150 posters, and 60 professional development workshops.
  • More than 3,500 evaluation professionals were in attendance.
  • 36 exhibiting companies filled the Connection Center.
  • We raised $7,400 at the Annual Silent Auction to support the International Travel Awards.

Thank you for making Evaluation 2019 such a success! 


Walking the Talk with Lisa Zook

Overcoming Challenges and Growing Together 

From Lisa Zook, Director of Research and Impact
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Evaluation 2019 opened with a plenary session in which we acknowledged that we were sitting on Dakota land. After a moving song and prayer from Wakinyan and Thorne LaPointe, they described “without relatedness, there is no community.” 

AEA is a community that I joined in 2012. I was relatively fresh from a graduate program and a few years in to my first ‘adult’ job. At the time, I was the only evaluator on the team, trying to navigate my way within a nonprofit setting, attempting to apply traditional research approaches to messy, complex, and ever-changing projects located in small and beautifully unique corner of the world. I conducted project site visits, witnessed the changes, and heard the stories. I knew there were compelling transformations to share and impressive failures from which to learn; my rigid tools and approaches were coming up short. I spent weeks writing reports, exploring nuances within the data, only to be asked by a manager for a bulleted list of take-aways. I was frustrated and, to put it plainly, I was questioning my utility.

Through coffee breaks, journal articles, and conference presentations, I related to others that were facing the same challenges. I dove head-first into Utilization-Focused Evaluation and data visualization. I started producing infographics, simplified presentations, and (if I do say so myself) fun executive summaries and two-pagers. I learned that short and engaging is almost always harder, but worth it – tenfold.

How did these innovations and new approaches come to be? They were fostered in a community that was driven by values of “excellence in evaluation practice and utilization of findings.” And that drive was grounded in values such as:

“We value inclusiveness and diversity, welcoming members at any point in their career, from any context, and representing a range of thought and approaches.”

What does that lead to? It leads to people being honest about where they are struggling. It encourages them to ask the question and challenge the tradition. And where does that lead? To solutions. Even in my six years attending conferences, I have witnessed the conversations evolve and build. I’ve seen AEA members take an idea from a session in one year and present all the amazing work they did with that idea the next year (this is how it worked, this is how it didn’t, this is how we improved it, etc.). And with this cycle, our relatedness grows stronger.

The community within AEA has shifted my evaluation practice tremendously. Rather than feeling frustrated by the rigidness of traditional research methods, I feel energized by the space that the evaluation field provides for creativity and innovation. I co-founded an organization that prioritizes the utilization of evaluation, where we work diligently to provide meaningful and actionable information. We pride ourselves in working alongside organizations to help them learn, share, adapt, and tell their story. Additionally, I’m working with an incredible team to get Seattle’s Local Affiliate of AEA off the ground. While the Seattle Evaluation Association is less than one-year-old, there is a wealth of experience among the members and members are already gathering in local restaurants and coffee shops to discuss approaches, refine skills, and brainstorm new ideas. It has been AEA’s values and the community those values are exemplified through that drive much of this work.


Potent Presentations Initiative

For Your Listening and Learning Pleasure: The Presentation Podcast

From Sheila B. Robinson, Potent Presentations Initiative Coordinator 

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Evaluation 2019 has now come and gone and, as always, it was one for the books. I attended a few stellar presentations and watched speakers who really know how to work a room. I reconnected with evaluation friends and met wonderful new ones. Now that there’s a tiny lull between now and the onslaught of new conference proposal deadlines, I have a bit of time to return to honing my own presentation practice.

I’ve been studying presentations and presenters for decades. I have mountains of notes that inform my work and I’m an insatiable learner who reads books, blogs, and newsletters, and also enjoys podcasts. But when I first heard about The Presentation Podcast and its focus on PowerPoint skills and slide design, I wasn’t quite sure I’d appreciate this one. After all, to enhance my slide design skills, I figure I should be at a computer with PowerPoint at the ready. While you may listen to podcasts while at a computer, I listen to them only when I’m not able to be at one (usually while driving or flying).

That said, I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by this podcast and what I’ve been able to learn just from listening (OK, I do occasionally re-listen to an episode and take notes or practice a technique). Here’s what I love most about The Presentation Podcast and a few reasons you should be listening:

1. With every episode you get three times the value! The hosts – Sandra Johnson, Nolan Haims, and Troy Chollar  – are each design agency owners who create PowerPoint (and other presentation software) slide decks, templates, and other presentation products for clients and are conference and workshop/training presenters themselves. They live in different states, run companies that are different sizes, and take on different types of projects and clients. They frequently pose questions to each other on various aspects of presentations, as well as on running their businesses; so the listener is often treated to three very different perspectives. Sometimes they end up teaching each other tips and tricks during the show. I find this comforting that even though they share a common PowerPoint MVP status, they are also still learners themselves.

2. Episodes address a wide variety of presentation topics, including some you might expect (or not!):

  • Color
  • Fonts
  • Data visualization
  • Sourcing images
  • Video
  • Animation

One episode is focused on women-owned business certification (featuring the great and powerful Nancy Duarte), while another is on giving and getting feedback. Episodes go well beyond technical skills.

3. There are episodes with special guests, such as one featuring Echo Swinford and Glenna Shaw (also PowerPoint MVPs) from the Presentation Guild; they talk about the newly created certification program for presentation professionals. There’s an episode with Mike Morrison, well known for his (now viral) YouTube video: "How To Create a Better Research Poster in Less Time." Here he talks about scientific presentations. There's another one with Kerri L. Ruttenberg, author of Images with Impact: Design and Use of Winning Trial Visuals. Ruttenberg talks about the fascinating world of using images and presentations in the courtroom.

4. The show notes are a wealth of information ready for me when I do get back to my laptop. I tend to get lost down the rabbit hole of curiosity by clicking through links to products, videos, websites, and other resources. Pretty much anything they mention on the show ends up in the show notes.

I highly recommend checking out The Presentation Podcast. Let me know how you like it!

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Image sourced from:


We need 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.


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


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:


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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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