Newsletter: May 2009 Vol 9, Issue 5

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AEA Membership Up 3 Percent and Growing!
Each spring, AEA takes an official membership count. This year's 5785 members come from all 50 states and over 80 foreign countries. Many of our newest members work in health and educational settings, but also at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Catalyst Institute, the Overseas and Foreign Credential Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, among other locations. We are an increasingly diverse lot, meshing differences in backgrounds, work contexts, and philosophies to build and strengthen the field. This month's newsletter highlights a number of ways that you can get involved in the life of the association and contribute your voice and your ideas.
 
And, to answer a question that I am hearing more and more often in the midst of our current economic downturn, how are we really doing? To put the 5785 in context, at last year's count, we had 5603 members, thus we are up just over 3%. Our renewal/reinstatement rate is at an all-time high, and while the growth rate is lower than our average, it is clearly going in the right direction. The associations industry has been hard hit recently, with many groups experiencing steep declines. Instead, AEA is growing and thriving, thanks to your commitment to the field and to the association.
 
Thank you for your ongoing support of AEA,
Susan

Susan Kistler
AEA Executive Director
In This Issue
Policy Watch with George Grob
Summer Institute Keynote Speakers
The Face of AEA - Meet Joan LaFrance, Independent Consultant
TechTalk with LaMarcus Bolton
AEA In the News
New Jobs Postings
Impact Evaluation Update
Book: Social Work Evaluation
Get Involved
About Us
Quick Links
Policy Watch - Starting Out on the Right Foot in Foreign Assistance
From George Grob, Consultant to the Evaluation Policy Task Force
 
GrobOn April 28, Representative Howard Berman, Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, introduced legislation requiring a comprehensive strategy for United States efforts to reduce global poverty and promote broad-based economic growth in developing countries. It is called the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act (H.R. 2139), and was co-sponsored by Representative Mark Kirk. This is the first phase of what Representative Berman hopes will be a complete restructuring of the Foreign Assistance Act.
 
A major portion of this bill is devoted to the establishment of an evaluation program to support the development and execution of foreign assistance programs. It is based on draft legislation and supporting materials that were prepared by a small working group, including members of the AEA Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) and the Lundy Foundation, and reflects the principles embodied in the EPTF's "Evaluation Roadmap for a More Effective Government."
 
This legislative language is probably the most complete evaluation policy ever included in a Federal draft bill. This is just the beginning of what will be a long and complicated legislative process, and there are no guarantees that this bill will become law. However, evaluation will be an integral part of the discussions that surround a new assessment of this nation's foreign assistance activities.
 
Some of the key evaluation provisions, which are found in section 3 of the bill, are:
  • A requirement for the President to develop and implement a rigorous system to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of United States foreign assistance
  • The establishment of measurable performance goals
  • Criteria for selection of programs to be subject to various evaluation methodologies
  • Establishment of an evaluation organization unit in each Federal agency involved in foreign assistance activities
  • Requirements to apply the lessons learned and results from evaluation activities in the planning and implementation of foreign assistance programs
  • Requirements to publish all evaluation plans and reports
  • Requirements for annual evaluation plans
  • Consultations among Federal agencies, governments of host countries, international and indigenous nongovernmental organizations, and other relevant stakeholders
  • Capacity building for evaluation in Federal agencies and for recipient countries
  • Annual budgeting for evaluation
  • Establishment of a Foreign Assistance Advisory Council with biennial reports of its activities to the President and the Congress
  • Annual reports from the President to the Congress on the use of evaluation
  • Definitions of key evaluation terms
  • A 5% set aside of foreign assistance funds to pay for evaluations
While it is unlikely that the evaluation language in this bill will be modified any time soon, we may have opportunities to comment in the future. To facilitate the availability of advice from AEA members on this bill, AEA will be hosting three webinars. Each is the same and will incorporate a brief description of the bill's provisions as well as next steps in the legislative process, with extended time for questions and discussions. We are holding them in different time zones so as to encourage participation from our colleagues around the world.
 
If you would like to participate, please send your preferred time to Ashley in the AEA office at [email protected]. She will send information so that you may view the webinar online and/or listen via VOIP or dial-in.
 
Time 1: Friday, June 5, 7:00 AM EST
Time 2: Wednesday, June 10: 3:00 PM EST
Time 3: Thursday, June 11: 8:30 PM EST
 
Go to the foreign affairs website for the announcement and a link to the bill itself
Keynote Speakers Announced for 2009 Summer Evaluation Institute
The 2009 Summer Evaluation Institute will be held June 14-17 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Institute brings together 500 or more evaluators, program practitioners, and national evaluation experts for three days of training and skill building sessions. Sessions are available for evaluators at many levels of expertise, and participants come from a variety of disciplines and settings. Founded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and now co-sponsored by AEA , attendees of this year's 9th annual event will have an opportunity to learn more about long-term partnering relationships and how they change over time, the power of stakeholder engagement and how to harness results of the past to fine-tune today's evaluations and programs. Keynote speakers include:
 
Michael Quinn Patton, author of five major books in the field of evaluation, a former president of AEA, noted speaker and trainer, will focus on Developmental Evaluation: Systems Thinking and Complexity Perspectives Applied to Evaluating Social Innovation. Developmental Evaluation (DE) refers to long-term, partnering relationships between evaluators and those engaged in innovative initiatives. DE - the focus of a forthcoming book - is an alternative to formative and summative evaluation for complex situations where the context, initiative, and nature of relationships may change over time as the program evolves. DE allows for the use of evaluative data throughout the program cycle, allows for corrections along the way, and builds an ongoing commitment to data-driven decision-making.
 
Goldie MacDonald and Tom Chapel, Senior Health Scientist with CDC, will present Program Evaluation Meets the Real World: Reflections on CDC's Evaluation Framework After 10 Years. Published in 1999, CDC's Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health aimed to increase the quality of program evaluation and use of evaluation findings for program improvement. The Framework emphasized stakeholder engagement throughout the evaluation process, and identification of designs that most often lead to the use of findings. Goldie and Tom will present the initial findings of a workgroup brought together to reflect on their experience using the Framework over the last ten years. They'll share how users confronted the complexities of real-world program evaluation, and offer suggested refinements to the Framework that have wider relevance to any applied evaluation approach. The presentation will include lessons learned in using the Framework, and practical recommendations on how to support evaluation and grow evaluation capacity in any large organization.
 
Robert M. Goodman, a Professor and Dean of Indiana University's School of Health, has written extensively on issues concerning community health development. A principal investigator and evaluator on projects for CDC, the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Substance Abuse Prevention, the Children's Defense Fund, and several state health departments, Goodman's presentation is entitled Looking Back at 20 Years in Health Promotion Evaluation. His lessons draw from the evaluation of programs funded by The Children's Defense Fund, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Office of Women's Health, and Philanthropic Foundations and will focus on important public health concerns such as access to prenatal care among poor and underrepresented, advancement of Centers of Excellence for Women's Health in teaching hospitals, breast and cervical cancer programs in rural areas, and community-based diabetes programming. 
 
Please register at your earliest convenience as slots are filled on a first-come basis.
 
Go to the Summer Evaluation Institute Website
The Face of AEA - Meet Joan LaFrance, Independent Consultant 
AEA's 5,700 members worldwide represent a range of backgrounds, specialties and interest areas. Join us as we profile a different member each month via our Question and Answer column. This month's profile spotlights an independent consultant long active with AEA. 
 
LaFrance2Name, Affiliation: Joan LaFrance, Mekinak Consulting (Seattle, Washington)  Professional Position: Founder/Owner
Degrees: Doctorate in Education (Harvard Graduate School of Education) and a Masters in Public Administration (University of Washington)
Years in the Evaluation Field: 15
Joined AEA: 1995
AEA Leadership Includes: Former Chair Diversity Committee, Coordinator of Student Pipeline Project, One of the Founders & Program Chair of Indigenous People Topical Interest Group
 
Why do you belong to AEA?
"AEA is a premier professional organization for anyone who is in evaluation. The mix of academic versus applied is very rich. It offers practical application with a theory-building orientation."
 
Why do you choose to work in the field of evaluation?
"My experience after my BA was developing programs for Seattle's Indian community. At some point, I was told we needed an external evaluation for one of our programs, and I was quite concerned about an "outsider" judging our work. Despite my fears, the experience was very positive. I was so impressed I told him I wanted to learn how to evaluate and he recruited me to graduate school."

What's the most memorable or meaningful evaluation that you have been a part of - and why?
"It's hard to single out any one. I have two that are memorable. In working with a college tribal program that was creating a multidisciplinary approach to tribal resource management, I learned the importance of collaboration. Evaluators can work very closely with program staff, helping them reflect on what is happening for insightful learning. I think that evaluation played a role in helping that project deepen an understanding of its work. I also worked in a multi-university program where doctoral students were assigned to me as evaluation fellows. I learned a lot about evaluation capacity building and almost all of them are now actively working in the field of evaluation and some are leaders in their respective AEA TIGs. Building capacity is a central reason I am working with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium to frame evaluation to be more responsive to American Indian values and epistemologies."
 
What advice would you give to those new to the field?
1) I would encourage them to become very good at understanding what research is, how you do it and how you adapt it to fit the situation. 
2) It is important to be good facilitators, good listeners, to bring people together and learn how to get good conversations going.
3) Understanding the dynamics of organizations is important.
 
Why did you choose to become involved in AEA at the TIG level?
"When I went to my first AEA conference, I felt very lonely. There were few American Indians. Over time, we developed a way to get information about AEA out to American Indian people. We began to build our numbers, including Maori and Native Hawaiians, and it was a great when we organized the Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation TIG. It's nice to have a time to come together and talk to each other."
 
If you know someone who represents The Face of AEA, send recommendations to [email protected]
Evaluators Staying in the Loop - with LinkedIn 
From LaMarcus Bolton, AEA Technology Director
 
BoltonThere's an old saying - "It's not what you know, but who you know." However, staying "in the loop" and networking with other evaluators is naturally harder with the often geographically dispersed nature of our colleagues. If you've been following AEA over the past couple of months, you've probably heard increasing buzz about LinkedIn. So what is LinkedIn and how can it help you, as an evaluation professional?
 
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site that's used primary for professional networking. See an old colleague from a previous job? Add them to your virtual network. Have a professional that you trust? Recommend them. Looking for someone with a certain expertise, but are not sure where to turn? Seek out the connections of your connections. As evaluation professionals, LinkedIn provides the means of connecting you with an almost infinite source of knowledge and information-other people-and does so in an innovative and relatively seamless way.
 
As an evaluation professional, LinkedIn removes barriers, such as proximity, that often inhibits successful networking. What results is a platform that can serve as a springboard into future collaboration, employment, and/or increased access to the knowledge-base of our field that is spread among AEA's many members. LinkedIn offers other useful technologies as well, including job boards, related professional groups, and integrated mini-applications that provide collaborative file sharing and trip planning functionality. Finally, LinkedIn is the place where we are posting information about meetups, informal gatherings of members to connect, network, and talk shop (our next is planned for Atlanta in conjunction with the Summer Institute).
 
If you would like to learn more about LinkedIn, please view this short video. However, if you still have any questions or would like to make any suggestions on how to better leverage LinkedIn for evaluation professionals, please contact me at [email protected].
 
LinkedIn is free and our LinkedIn group currently has over 1200 professional members. To see how we are making the best of LinkedIn, please sign up for a LinkedIn account at http://www.linkedin.com/ if you have not done so already, and then join our AEA LinkedIn group.
 
Go to the American Evaluation Association LinkedIn group
AEA In the News
Awards & Honors
AEA member Amarachuku Enyia has been honored with the AERA Law & Education SIG's Emerging Scholars Award for a paper submitted for this year's conference. The paper was called Finding Plan B: Critical Remedy Construction for School Districts Operating Under Education Equity Consent Decrees Post Seattle and Louisville. It's a legal analysis of the direction education equity cases are taking since the Court's 2007 decision in the Seattle and Louisville with an examination of the implications of the newest administration/potential Supreme Court appointments.

AEA member Cassandra Golding is a recipient of the University of Rhode Island's 2009 Diversity Awards. A doctoral student  in clinical psychology, she was honored for innovative research and publications including an article in the Journal of Feminist Family Therapy entitled Redefining the Nuclear Family: An Exploration of Resiliency in Lesbian Parents, since reprinted in Lesbian Families' Challenges and Means of Resiliency. For more information, see http://www.uri.edu/mcc/DiversityAwards/2009/index.html

AEA member Dustin Duncan has been awarded the Harvey Fineberg Fellowship in Cancer Prevention from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). Duncan is Center Coordinator of Harvard's Center for Health Promotion, whose mission is to develop, implement, and evaluate health promotion/disease prevention programs for HSPH faculty, staff, and students.

AEA member Kelly Hannum is the recent recipient of the University of North Carolina Greensboro's Young Alumni Award, presented to alumni who are 40 years of age and younger, and which recognizes exceptional achievement and significant contribution to the recipient's profession or community, society or the university. Hannum, also the 2008 recipient of AEA's Guttentag Award, is the manager of research at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro.  She has served as a consultant to NASA, a senior leadership expert with The World Bank, a visiting faculty member at Catholic University in Lille, France, and has been an adjunct member of the UNCG faculty since 2004. Congratulations Kelly! For more information, see http://www.uncg.edu/ure/news/stories/2009/apr/ServiceAwards040309.htm
 
If you have a news item you'd like to contribute, please forward to [email protected].
New Jobs & RFPs from the AEA Career Center  
What's new this month in the AEA Online Career Center? The following positions and Requests for Proposals (RFPs) have been added recently:
  • Research Associate at Harlem Children's Zone (New York City, NY)
  • Ideas to Action (i2a) Specialist for Culminating Experience at the University of Louisville (Louisville, KY)
  • Director of Monitoring and Evaluation at the ELMA Philanthropies Services (New York City, NY)
  • Senior Management/Analyst at the Evaluation and Training Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia - Faculty of Medicine (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
  • Technical Advisor: Monitoring and Evaluation at John Snow Incorporated/ESI Project (Lesotho)
  • Evaluation of Learning and Development RFP for UNESCO (Paris, France)
  • Evaluator at Haynie Research and Evaluation (Skillman, NJ)
  • Evaluation Coordinator at the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (Bloomington, IN)
  • Director, Student Affairs Assessment and Planning at the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Descriptions for each of these positions, and many others, are available in the AEA Online Career Center. According to Google analytics, the Career Center received over 4000 unique visitors in the past month. It is an outstanding resource for posting your resume or position, or for finding your next employer, contractor or employee.
 
Job hunting? You can also sign up to receive notifications of new position postings via email or RSS feed.
 
Go to the AEA Online Career Center
Report on the Cairo Impact Evaluation Conference 
From Jim Rugh, AEA's representative to IOCE  
 
Rugh2As AEA's representative to the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation, I attended the Perspectives on Impact Evaluation: Approaches to Assessing Development Effectiveness international conference in Cairo, March 29 to April 2. Over 600 delegates, many from developing countries, participated in the multi-faceted professional conference. Organized by 3ie (International Initiative for Impact Evaluation), NONIE (the Network Of Networks for Impact Evaluation) and AfrEA (the African Evaluation Association), with support from UNICEF, the purpose for this conference was "to bring to Africa some of the best expertise from all continents on one of the most discussed topics among evaluation and development communities worldwide." The organizers defined impact evaluation as "those studies which concern themselves with determining and understanding the short, medium and long term outcomes or impacts of projects, programs and policies," noting, "we do not limit the term to any specific methodology in any particular discipline."
 
Ahmed Ag Aboubacrine who works with CARE in Sierra Leone shared highlights from the conference, among them:
  • As expected, there was a huge debate in Cairo on Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) and other methods.
  • Consensus was that there is not a single gold standard but only one Platinum Standard which is: Comparison and Triangulation. (Sanjeev Khagram)
  • The method is not an end but rather just a tool/means. Each method has its own rigor, bias and contamination. (Melvin Mark)
  • We all need courage in engaging policy makers at national and global levels. (Sulley Gariba)
  • There is a need for a multidisciplinary approach with more inclusiveness and less imposition of Northern views. (Nick York)
  • Allocation of resources must be based on rigorous evaluation. (Paul Gertler)
  • Impact Evaluation implies complexity, contextualization and multiplicity. (Jennifer Green)
  • Rethinking/reshaping/reforming impact evaluation for international development and aid effectiveness is not the same as development effectiveness. (Sanjeev Khagram)
One of my take-homes from the conference is a matrix Patricia Rogers uses that categorizes impact evaluations that deal with simple, complicated or complex situations. This has important implications for the kinds of questions that can be addressed and the evaluation designs and methodologies that are appropriate. I will be sharing a bit more about this next month.
 
Why should all of this matter to AEA members? The discourse added to the ongoing methodological debates and one could leave it at that. However, there are significant policy and resource-allocation implications when major donors and networks establish guidelines and set the expectations for what should be accepted as rigorous impact evaluation. See in particular the impact evaluation guidelines that were officially adopted by NONIE during the Cairo conference. With AEA's focus on encouraging policies that are relevant to good evaluation practice, we should be aware that key stakeholders will be making policy decisions based on the outcomes of the event. These include 3ie and the three donor networks that are part of NONIE: the OECD-DAC (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development-Development Assistance Committee) Evaluation Network, the United Nations Evaluation Group, and the World Bank's Evaluation Cooperation Group. 
 
Go to the Cairo Conference website
Social Work Evaluation: Enhancing What We Do  
SocialWorkAEA member James Dudley has authored a new book published by Lyceum Books, Inc. Social Work Evaluation: Enhancing What We Do presents evaluation as a collaborative effort and encourages the participation of clients, community groups, and staff members in all or some of the steps of the evaluation process. 

From the Publisher's Site:
"Evaluation is a necessary and important element of social work. The role of the evaluator is one that all social workers should undertake-through program evaluation or through evaluation of one's individual practice-to ensure that practice methods attain the highest possible effectiveness. This book provides a comprehensive and readable approach to evaluation, emphasizing various small and mid-range formative evaluations that are often implemented at the local agency level. Social Work Evaluation: Enhancing What We Do can help all social workers improve their practice outcomes."

From the Author:
"My students over they years have urged me to write my own book as a reflection of what I cover in my classes so I finally did that. One of the distinguishing aspects of this book is its extensive use of case examples and visual aids. Discussion questions in every chapter, visual aids, a glossary of terms, and role play and other exercises are also included. It has been most rewarding to complete a book that reflects my 15-plus years of communicating the extreme importance of evaluation and that evaluation activities are a central aspect of program and practice interventions." 

About the Author:
James R. Dudley is professor of social work at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he has served as chair of the social work department. Previously, he was a faculty member at Temple University. He has conducted numerous evaluations and other research studies and published several articles and books including Research Methods for Social Work.
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About Us
The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of evaluation in all its forms.
 
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.
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