AEA Mission, Vision, Values and Governing Policies

Last Updated: January, 2016

The following represents the governing policies of the association

Annual Reports

This version of the AEA Governing Policies Manual reflects recently updated policies as amended by the AEA 2014 Board of Directors. Some policy items are still pending Board decision. Changes will be reflected in a future version upon decision. 

Want to review previous versions of the policies to see changes over time? Click here


The American Evaluation Association seeks to act in ways that embody our mission, vision, and values in pursuit of our defined policies and goals.

MISSION: The American Evaluation Association’s mission is to improve evaluation practices and methods, increase evaluation use, promote evaluation as a profession, and support the contribution of evaluation to the generation of theory and knowledge about effective human action.

VISION: The American Evaluation Association’s vision is to foster an inclusive, diverse, and international community of practice positioned as a respected source of information for and about the field of evaluation.

VALUES: The American Evaluation Association values excellence in evaluation practice, utilization of evaluation findings, and inclusion and diversity in the evaluation community.

i.  We value high quality, ethically defensible, culturally responsive evaluation practices that lead to effective and humane organizations and ultimately to the enhancement of the public good.

ii.  We value high quality, ethically defensible, culturally responsive evaluation practices that contribute to decision-making processes, program improvement, and policy formulation.

iii.  We value a global and international evaluation community and understanding of evaluation practices.

iv.  We value the continual development of evaluation professionals and the development of evaluators from under-represented groups.

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

vi.  We value efficient, effective, responsive, transparent, and socially responsible association operations.

Ends Goals

The purpose of the Board of Directors, on behalf of the Evaluation Community and those it affects and influences (“owners”), is to ensure that AEA produces appropriate results (as defined in Ends Goals) and avoids inappropriate actions and situations.

AEA exists for...Growth in the effective use of evaluation as a means for enhancement of the public good (with results optimizing use of available resources)


A. Evaluators have the skills and knowledge to be effective, culturally competent, contextually sensitive, and ethical professionals.

 1. A growing body of knowledge advances the theories, practices, and methods of evaluation.

 2. Evaluators teach and learn evaluation in diverse professional settings.

 3. Evaluators promote communication with and meaningful use of evaluation by stakeholders.

 4. Evaluators develop new knowledge about evaluation, and disseminate and transfer it widely.

 5. Evaluators use a multicultural lens to engage diverse communities in evaluation effectively and with respect, to promote cultural, geographic, and economic inclusiveness, social justice, and equality.

      B. Evaluators share and benefit from a sense of professional affiliation.

      1. A diverse community of professionals (members and non-members alike) spans culture, discipline, geography, and political philosophy and interacts to promote high quality evaluation practice and use.

      2. Evaluators are members of an evaluation community that spans culture, discipline, geography, and political philosophy.

      3. Evaluators develop the capacity of communities and organizations to engage in evaluation.

      4. Evaluators enrich the life of the association as well as that of other organizations, fields, and disciplines aligned with the association’s mission.

            C. There is broad growth in the visibility and perceived value of evaluation.

            1. Evaluation users will expect and require high quality evaluations.

            2. Evaluation users encourage understanding and use of evaluation in their settings.

            3. Evaluation users have knowledge and resources to understand evaluation and make evaluation a standard practice in their organization’s operations.

            4. Evaluation users are sensitive to the cultural and ethical issues that are involved in the conduct and use of evaluation that promotes the public good.

            5. Evaluation users value evaluation enough to support the profession.

            6. Evaluation users have knowledge and resources to make evaluation a standard practice in their organization’s operations.

            7. Potential evaluation users in communities and organizations attend to and learn from evaluation and from each other.

            8. People in organizations have the knowledge and skills to engage in evaluation.

            9. People in other professions and disciplines know and respect evaluation theories, practices, and values.

            10. People outside the field use evaluation as a vehicle for learning and improving their programs and policies.

            11.The public has knowledge and resources to understand evaluation and use it appropriately.

            12.The public demand valid information on programs and policies, and are able to understand it.

            13. The public views evaluation as a profession. 

                  D. Informed policy builds the capacity of communities and organizations to engage in and learn from evaluation.

                   E. AEA Members value their membership.


                  Advisory Group: Advisory Groups advise the board on specific issues that require special expertise. For example, the Financial Advisors to the Board (FAB) is an advisory group. They report to the board.

                  Association Activity: An association activity is a process or event intended to contribute to association operations.

                  Association Program: An association program is an intentional intervention designed to contribute directly to association goals.

                  Excellence Imperative (from the BDI Phase I evaluation report): The excellence imperative is to raise the standard of excellence in evaluation practice by integrating multicultural commitments. The excellence imperative reflects individual and collective desires to build upon, broaden, and strengthen—through responsiveness and connection—our theories, methods, approaches and practices with wisdom and excellence.

                  General Reserve: The General Reserve is an unrestricted fund balance representing those funds available for programs and services. The General Reserve is identified at the beginning of each fiscal year and is defined as subtracting the Operating Reserve from the Net Assets of the Association at the close of the fiscal year. The Board establishes policy that sets parameters on accessing the funds within the General Reserve.

                  Justice Imperative (from the BDI Phase I evaluation report): The justice imperative is to promote justice and equity in evaluation practice. Its motivation comes from individual and collective commitments to justice – equity, fairness, respect, inclusiveness, and acceptance – and to promoting unity among evaluators while redressing past harm.

                  Multiculturalism (adapted from the Building Diversity Initiative (BDI) phase I evaluation report): Multiculturalism concerns the process of recognizing, understanding and appreciating the cultural background of others as well as one's own. It stresses an appreciation of the impact of difference in social location based on the variety of demographic characteristics that describe our differences and our similarities, including race/ethnicity, indigeneity, gender, class/level, age, sexual orientation, religion, physical/mental ability, immigration status, language, military experience, and geographic location.

                  Net Assets: Net Assets are the difference between the association’s total financial assets and total financial liabilities (accounts payable and debts). AEA divides its net assets into two categories, the Operating Reserve and the General Reserve.

                  Operating Reserve: The operating reserve is an unrestricted fund balance set aside to stabilize our finances by providing a cushion against emergencies or large, unexpected fluctuations in income. AEA sets aside a minimum of 85% of the Schedule I budget for Fiscal Year 2012 and 100% of the Schedule I budget for Fiscal Year 2013 and beyond, as its operating reserve. The Operating Reserve is identified at the beginning of each fiscal year and is defined as the highest of either the current year’s estimated Schedule I budget or either of the immediate past two year’s actual Schedule I expenses. The Board sets policy that establishes parameters on accessing the funds within the Operating Reserve.

                  People of Color: People of color in the contemporary United States context refers to people from racial and ethnic groups that [continue to face] discrimination, prejudice, and injustice within the American context.

                  Public Engagement: Public engagement is the coordinated set of activities that AEA conducts outside our own association in order to (a) present to, (b) learn from, and (c) collaborate with other relevant organizations and individuals, both within the United States and internationally.

                  Redressing Past Harm: Redressing past harm refers to recognizing and correcting oppressive policies and actions and balancing majority privilege. Illustrative ways to accomplish this in AEA include through:

                  Relating or enhancing communication about multicultural issues and working respectfully to design, implement, and monitor policies, projects, and activities that strengthen multicultural representation, voice, and cultural competence within the association.

                  Restoring or taking action to recognize past harm and making changes (e.g., policies) to ensure that multiculturalism remains a central value of the association and is reflected in AEA policies, structure, and activities; recognizing and correcting oppressive actions.

                  Acknowledging or learning from the past and seeing diverse groups with new understandings and balancing majority privilege.

                  Review Group: Review Groups carry out functions within the board’s responsibility. Their scope of their work includes definition of reporting responsibility.

                  Schedule I/Schedule II Budgets: Schedule I: The AEA annual operations budget for all permanent programs. Schedule II: The portion of the annual budget reserved for tracking new/pilot programs.

                  Task Force: The board, to assist in carrying out its work, forms task forces. They report to the board and may be long or short-term entities.

                  Working Group: The ED forms working groups to focus on operational matters. Working groups report to the ED.