Virtual Conference FAQ

We are excited to announce that AEA is pivoting to a fully Virtual Conference in 2020. We believe this is the most responsible path forward to maintain safe conditions for our attendees, presenters, exhibitors, and the communities you serve. 

With this announcement, we anticipate that you have a few questions and we will do our best to respond to inquiries in a timely manner. We have compiled a few commonly asked questions to add more clarification to the Virtual Conference.

We are in the early planning stages of rethinking and reshaping our typical conference format to bring you a virtual conference that is inclusive and reflects the core value of AEA, advancing the practice of evaluation. Keeping the spirit of the Evaluation Annual Conference, the Virtual Conference will have opportunities to connect with other evaluators from across the globe and will offer education on diverse topics. If you do not see a popular feature of the typical conference schedule listed below, please know that we evaluating all options to ensure that the offerings we bring forward will create value for our attendees and our program is strengthened, not hindered, by our digital format. 

Why did AEA decide to pivot the Annual Conference to a completely virtual conference?

AEA has been monitoring the spread of COVID-19 since early March. Due to the virus, we decided to cancel the in-person Summer Evaluation Institute scheduled for June. Since this time, we were hopeful that our annual conference would be able to continue as scheduled. Due to warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) and a state ordinance issued by Oregon Governor, Kate Brown, announcing that all large gatherings will remain off limits through at least September, we decided to re-evaluate the in-person event. After much deliberation by our Board of Directors, it became clear that we should not host our in-person event to protect our attendees, presenters, exhibitors, and the communities you serve.

Will future AEA Conferences be virtual?

We cannot predict how COVID-19 will impact 2021 in-person events. We are hopeful that we can host Evaluation 2021 as planned in Washington, D.C. We are always looking for ways to improve our events and make them more inclusive. For the past three years, we have offered a virtual opportunity that coincided with our conference. If we find elements of our 2020 Virtual Conference are popular and aid in the advancement of evaluation best practices, this could be an option we explore for future conferences.

When will AEA be sharing registration details?

We are looking to open registration for the Virtual Conference in mid-August. We will open registration with a schedule so you are completely aware of the opportunities our pivot to a virtual format will offer. When we open registration, an early bird discount will be available. As details are finalized regarding registration, we will share this information with the AEA community.

What will the schedule look like for the Virtual Conference?

Schedule decisions have not been made at this time, but it is clear that we will have fewer session slots available than our in-person event can typically accommodate. Although our program will be pared down, we will still provide great value to the evaluation community. As we explore virtual platforms and programming options, we hope to leave intact many elements of the live conference, including posters, birds of a feather sessions, the exhibit hall, and community engagement.

We understand that due to platform limitations and capabilities we will have difficulties replicating some elements of the live event in a virtual format. Our goal is to add value to attendees, speakers, and exhibitors. If we don’t believe a feature of the conference creates a valuable experience in the virtual format, we will anticipate a return of that feature in 2021.

Change opens great opportunities for innovation and we are excited to explore these options and present a Virtual Conference that captures the spirit of the in-person event. As we continue to plan the program, we ask for your patience and understanding in the details we can share at this point.

Will the Virtual Conference include the Presidential Strand?

The Evaluation 2020 conference theme is “How Will You Shine Your Light” focused on how evaluators are shining their lights through their work. Many sessions in the Virtual Conference will relate back to this theme and will encourage deep and through-provoking conversations about how we can shine our lights for the purposes of improving conditions for others to shine theirs.

Will AEA be hosting an Annual Business Meeting?

Yes, we are planning to host a virtual Annual Business Meeting this fall. We have not determined a specific date for this meeting. We will share more details as they become available.

Will AEA be hosting TIG Business Meetings?

Yes, we are planning to host virtual TIG Business Meetings that will be open to all Virtual Conference registrants. We have not determined a specific date for these meetings. We will share more details as they become available.

Will AEA be hosting the Silent Auction?

No, we are not planning to host a Silent Auction in 2020. We feel this event works best in an in-person setting. We anticipate that the Silent Auction will resume in its normal capacity in 2021 in Washington, D.C. The funds raised at the Evaluation 2019 Silent Auction will be applied to the 2021 International Awardee Program.

Will job boards be included in the Virtual Conference?

Because AEA offers the Career Center, job boards will not be a feature of the virtual event. The Career Center is free for members to search for available position and allows you to save and submit multiple resumes and document. There is a charge to post a job listing in the Career Center.

Will AEA be hosting an Awards Ceremony?

Earlier this year, we looked closely at the AEA awards process and determined that it required re-alignment. The AEA board voted unanimously to pause awards and to improve not only the processes associated with them, but also their meaning and service to the overall Ends Policies for the organization. A task force, which will report to the Board, will be convened to look at awards more closely and craft new and improved processes reflecting who we are and what we stand for. As a result of this pause, AEA will not be distributing awards in 2020 and looks to reinstate the awards program in 2021.

Will AEA still be offering Student and International Travel Awards?

The funds raised at the Evaluation 2019 Silent Auction will be applied to the 2021 International Awardee Program. We are looking into ways we can support the international community through the Virtual Conference, but no decisions have been made at this time. Details will be shared as they become available.

Student awards will not be offered in 2020. We are looking into ways to support the student community through the Virtual Conference, but no decisions have been made at this point. Details will be shared as they become available.