Newsletter: October 2009 Vol 9, Issue 10


Congratulations to 2009 AEA Award Winners
rogWe are just weeks away from Evaluation 2009 and I am looking forward to seeing those of you who will be attending. In addition to more than 600 sessions, it's our once-a-year opportunity to recognize a special few whose work stand apart in the field. This year, AEA will present four awards that symbolize devotion, vision and impact. I'd like to recognize, congratulate, and thank those whose work represent the high standards of the field. They serve as inspiration for us all. Read more about them below.

As we celebrate the work of this year's awardees, I encourage you to nominate those you consider especially worthy of these awards in the coming year. AEA has a portfolio of seven awards. You might give thought to those who conducted an exceptional evaluation or wrote an outstanding book, as well as those who are visionaries in the field, are young achievers and/or long-time supporters of AEA and the profession. So, please, give thought to those who shine. We will have information on site at this year's Evaluation 2009 conference and are available should you have any questions or suggestions.
I am so proud of this year's recipients and I am looking forward to what 2010 holds for our Association and our members. For more information, I invite you to visit AEA's Awards Page.

Debra Rog
2009 AEA President
In This Issue
AEA Presents Four Awards
Policy Watch with George Grob
Thomas Schwandt Editor of AJE
Member Profile - Derrick Gervin
Intern Program Welcomes New Students, New Leaders
Evaluator on Oprah
TechTalk with LaMarcus Bolton
New Volunteer Ops
New Jobs Postings
New Evaluation PhD Program
Get Involved
About Us
Quick Links
AEA To Present Four Awards at Evaluation 2009
The American Evaluation Association will present four awards in a ceremony scheduled to coincide with its annual conference this November in Orlando. The awards will honor professionals whose work examined the impact of abstinence-only pregnancy prevention programs - and resulted in policy and funding changes at the federal level; whose persistence has improved transportation safety; and whose passions for the field have instilled a professional responsibility to better represent those too often overlooked, misrepresented or underprepared. AEA's awards will be presented at Evaluation 2009, to be held November 11-14 in Orlando, FL. The awards luncheon will be held Friday. Join us as we celebrate this year's award winners. They are:
Michael Coplen, a senior program manager with the U.S. Department of Transportation, will be honored with AEA's Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Government Award. His work significantly reduced rail injuries and led to the development of the Federal Railroad Administration's Risk Reduction Program, which was written into recent legislation - The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
Molly Engle, an associate professor at Oregon State University and evaluation specialist with its Extension Service, will be honored with AEA's Robert Ingle Service Award. Molly has more than 25 years of evaluation experience focusing on community-based evaluations, is a charter member of AEA and was instrumental in the formation of its Health Evaluation Topical Interest Group. Her service to AEA includes serving as a board member from 1992-1994, Associate Editor of Evaluation Practice from 1993-1995 and as President in 2002.
Donna M. Mertens, a professor at Gallaudet University and author most recently of Transformative Research and Evaluation, will be honored with AEA's Paul F. Lazarsfeld Evaluation Theory Award. Donna, a prolific writer/author, served as AEA president in 1998 and helped found AEA's Diversity Initiative. She has made lifelong contributions to evaluation theory through teaching, presenting and practice. She currently teaches research methods and program evaluation to graduate-level deaf and hearing students in multiple programs including education, administration, psychology, social work, audiology, and international development and is editor of the Journal of Mixed Methods Research.
Christopher Trenholm and Barbara Devaney, representing Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., will be honored with AEA's Outstanding Evaluation Award. Mathematica was tapped in 1998 to spearhead a congressionally-mandated study of abstinence-only education programs intended to reduce teen pregnancies as well as sexually transmitted diseases. A comprehensive nine-year study - undertaken within a politically contentious arena - resulted in an 80 percent response rate along with rave reviews from opposing sides for its rigor, balance and impact. The study has been widely cited in news articles and opinion pieces. Newsweek's Sharon Begley in an article entitled Just Say No to Bad Science pointed to the evaluation as a model of good research in a field where it had been sorely lacking.

Congratulations to this year's AEA award winners. For more information or to learn how to nominate someone for next year's consideration, go to AEA's Awards Page.

Policy Watch - OMB Policy on Impact Evaluation
From George Grob, Consultant to the Evaluation Policy Task Force
GrobOn October 7, United States Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag issued an OMB memorandum to Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies establishing a broad policy to place increased emphasis on impact evaluations. It focuses initially on "social, educational, economic, and similar programs whose expenditures are aimed at improving life outcomes (such as improving health or increasing productivity) for individuals." Procurement, construction, taxation, national defense, and drug and clinical medical evaluations are beyond the initial scope of the initiative.
Within this field of impact evaluation the policy picks up on many of the ideas that AEA's Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF) has advocated for in its Evaluation Roadmap for a More Effective Government and the EPTF memorandum last year to OMB on the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) program. For example, consistent with the Roadmap, it emphasizes that "evaluations can help policymakers and agency managers strengthen the design and operations of programs," and it seeks to improve the institutional capacity of Federal agencies to perform evaluations, asking for an assessment of agency capacity to conduct rigorous, independent evaluations and to attract and retain talented researchers in an office with standing within the agency. To assist in building this capacity, it reconstitutes the Inter-agency Evaluation Working Group under the Performance Improvement Council.
Consistent with last year's EPTF comments to OMB on PART, it avoids reference to a "gold standard" method. Instead it establishes that a key goal of the Working Group will be to "help agencies determine the most rigorous study designs appropriate for different programs given their size, stage of development, and other factors."
The policy formalizes and provides funding for the voluntary program started last year for agencies to submit information about, and requests for funding for, high priority evaluation activities.
The policy is strong on public disclosure of evaluations, directing OMB and agencies to expand information about program evaluations that they make public. This is being done not only to promote transparency of evaluation results but also to allow experts inside and outside the government to engage early in the development of program evaluations. In particular, OMB welcomes input on the best strategies for achieving wide consultation in the development of evaluation designs. Clearly, OMB is making an open invitation for evaluators to weigh in on important, concrete evaluation issues.
Interestingly, it also expresses openness to the idea of evaluations of potential program policies, not just existing programs. More specifically, it establishes a goal of making researchers, policymakers, and the public aware of evaluations that study alternative approaches for achieving outcomes to determine which strategies are most effective.
Needless to say, the Evaluation Policy Task Force will be monitoring the implementation of this new policy. If you become aware of significant developments in this area, please share them with the EPTF discussion group or directly with me, George Grob, consultant to the Task Force, at [email protected]
Go to the EPTF website to join the discussion group and learn more about its work
Thomas Schwandt new Editor-in-Chief of American Journal of Evaluation
SchwandtIt is our pleasure to announce that Thomas A. Schwandt has been appointed as Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Evaluation for 2010-2012. Schwandt will take over from Robin L. Miller who has led the journal since 2005. 

Schwandt is Professor and Chair, Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he also holds an appointment in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. He is the author of Evaluation Practice Reconsidered; Evaluating Holistic Rehabilitation Practice; Dictionary of Qualitative Inquiry, and with Edward Halpern, Linking Auditing and Meta-evaluation. He has co-edited Exploring Evaluator Role and Identity (with Katherine Ryan), Knowledge Production: The Work of Educational Research in Interesting Times (with Bridget Somekh), and Evaluating Educational Reforms: Scandinavian Perspectives (with Peder Haug).  

Schwandt's scholarship is primarily focused on the intersection of social research and practical philosophy. His work is heavily influenced by the tradition of philosophical hermeneutics and the insights that can be drawn from that body of work for investigations into the practices of evaluation and research. 

In 2002 Schwandt received AEA's Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award for his contributions to evaluation theory. He served on AEA's Board of Directors from 2005-2007 and has chaired both our Publications and Ethics Committees. 

Schwandt noted that he sees his responsibility as Senior Editor for AJE as "ensuring that AJE continues to be influential in shaping the way evaluation is understood, conducted, used, and appraised in making policy and practice decisions in multiple social arenas including education, public administration, behavioral and health sciences, human services, and criminology. We realize this goal by maintaining the journal as a strong vehicle for the continued appraisal of ways in which we currently think about and practice evaluation, as well as a valued resource for new thinking about evaluation." 

Sponsored by AEA, the American Journal of Evaluation (AJE) publishes original content about the methods, theory, practice, and findings of evaluation. A peer-reviewed journal, the general goal of AJE is to present the best work in and about evaluation, in order to improve the knowledge base and practice of its readers. All members receive AJE as a benefit of membership. 

More information about AJE may be found on the AEA website including guidance for manuscript submission and contribution categories. If you are attending the AEA Annual Conference in Orlando, we invite you to attend the AJE "Meet the Editors" session to be held on Saturday, November 14. 

Go to the AJE Webpage
Meet Derrick Gervin - Social Worker & Evaluator
AEA's 5700 members worldwide  represent  a  range of backgrounds, specialties and interest areas. Join us as we profile a different member each month via our Questions and Answer column. This month's profile spotlights a member who first joined as a student intern and volunteer.
GervinName, Affiliation: Derrick Gervin, The Evaluation Group  (Decatur, Georgia)
Professional Position:  Lead Evaluator
Degrees: Ph.D. in Social Work Policy Planning and Administration (Clark Atlanta University), M.S.W. (University of Georgia), B.S. in Psychology (Georgia State University)
Years in the Evaluation Field: Two
Joined AEA: 2007
AEA Leadership Includes: Co-Program Chair, Social Work Topical Interest Group
Why do you belong to AEA?
"I first got involved as a member of the fourth cohort of the Graduate Education Diversity Internship Program. Once I got involved, I found the organization was really open and a good organization for young evaluators. I went to my first conference and got involved as a student and with the conference as a volunteer. There are plenty of opportunities to network and collaborate with experienced evaluators. "
Why do you choose to work in the field of evaluation?
"I think it's a great complement to my profession as a social worker. I started off as a social work practitioner and saw the movement toward evidence-based practice and the emphasis on outcomes and accountability. I saw evaluation as a way to merge social work practice and research. "

What's the most memorable or meaningful evaluation that you have been a part of - and why?
"My work with the internship program. It was not only a good introduction into the field - although I'd done other evaluation work - but an opportunity to get a taste of a multi-site project. It was also a large well-funded project that involved research on the use of logic models. It served as a great foundation for me. I also got to work with experts in the field, like Rodney Hopson and Rosalie Torres, in a supportive and education rich environment."

What advice would you give to those new to the field?
"Jump in with both feet and get involved. Hands-on experience is one of the best ways to learn. And don't be afraid to ask questions. The field is so broad and encompasses so many areas that you really shouldn't expect to know everything. That's the great thing about AEA - there's a wealth of experience and expertise that is accessible via Evaltalk, the AEA journals, and at the conference."
If you know of someone who represents The Face of AEA, semd recommendations to [email protected].
AEA's Diversity Internship Program Enters Sixth Year With New Leaders
AEA's Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) will enter its sixth season with a new cohort of students as well as new leaders. We extend a warm welcome to Rita O'Sullivan and Michelle Jay, who will serve as co-directors of the program that just recently celebrated five years of bringing graduate students from underrepresented communities into the field of evaluation.

RitaSullivanMichelleJayO'Sullivan, an associate professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), is executive director of Evaluation, Assessment, and Policy Connection (EvAP), an evaluation training unit she founded that also conducts local, state and national evaluations. Jay is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of South Carolina and an evaluation consultant. The pair have collaborated since the two first met as professor/graduate student at UNC and both saw the GEDI opening as a unique opportunity to pool their talents and contribute to a successful program they'd watched grow in AEA.
"Together, we have a really good history of working together. And, it's a transition and transitions are an opportunity for growth," says O'Sullivan. "I jumped at it," says Jay. "I was aware of the program and what they were trying to accomplish. I'd always been interested and slightly envious that I'd not been able to be a part of it."

Expect few changes to the program that has graduated 32 students since its debut in 2005 - at least initially. "Our strategy this year is basically to follow the existing model. It's a great program." The twist? This year's cohort will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the program's first five years and those results may precipitate changes the following year.
"It's a really good time for evaluation," notes O'Sullivan. "There are more evaluators than ever before and more diversity. We had 90 applicants for this year's GEDI program and truly regretted that we only had nine internships available." Adds Jay: "It's exciting. Our applicant pool was just phenomenal."
This year's participants will each complete a nine-month internship at an evaluation agency in their geographical areas, followed by an evaluation report as a result of this placement. Numerous assignments throughout the year are designed to maximize their learning experience. They will also attend two 3-4 day seminars, as well as Evaluation 2009 this November in Orlando and the 2010 Summer Institute next June in Atlanta. AEA will introduce this year's GEDI cohort in an upcoming newsletter. Welcome aboard:
  • Karen Anderson (Clark Atlanta University)
  • Lisa Aponte-Soto (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Johnavae Campbell (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Frances Carter (University of Maryland-Baltimore County)
  • Soria Colomer (University of Georgia)
  • Larry Daffin (New York University)
  • Jessica Johnson (Virginia Commonwealth University)
  • Deborah Ling (University of California at Los Angeles)
  • Neva Pemberton (University of California at Los Angeles)

Go to AEA's GEDI page

Evaluator on Oprah: Learned What's Expected & What's Achievable
TrentIt's not every day that an evaluator finds themselves on the Oprah Winfrey Show. But Tererai Trent, a doctoral student at Western Michigan University, was interviewed earlier this month to share what Oprah herself described as "the most incredible story of manifesting a dream I have ever heard." Today, Trent is Deputy Director of Planning & Evaluation at Heifer International, the charitable organization that first spotted that glint in her eye and believed in her potential.
Trent's story began in Africa, where she spent the days of her youth herding cattle. Like many young girls, she yearned to go to school. But education was reserved predominately for boys. Even as a child, Trent showed a fierce determination to defy the odds before her. She learned to read by immersing herself in her brother's books, completed his homework assignments and eventually earned her father's approval to attend school - at least for a few semesters. She was married at the age of 11, had five children and was the wife of a man who physically abused her.

Trent's future took a turn after a well known activist found her way into a village of Zimbabwe. Jo Luck, president of Heifer International, told a crowd of women that they could indeed achieve their goals - although few could visualize their dreams, let alone vocalize them. But Trent's dream had long been to pursue an education. She'd pleaded with her father, defied her husband and dreamed of a different reality for her own youngsters. So she studied more intensely, grew stronger and more self sufficient, was soon recognized for her ability and offered an opportunity to study in the U.S. and become a part of the Heifer team.
"Twenty years ago, it was almost impossible for me to envision earning a Ph.D.," says Trent. "Last week, I successfully defended and passed my Ph.D. in interdisciplinary evaluations under the guidance of Drs. Michel Scriven, Robin Miller and Chris Coryn. While personally this has deep meaning, I do not want to forget where I came from," she says. "Who I am today would not have been possible without the help of many others who cared and loved me enough to believe, nurture, support, and defend me. Heifer International planted the seed of "tinogona" in me, watered that seed and helped make the dream a reality."

Trent's story also has been spotlighted in The New York Times and in a new book entitled Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
"The journey is not yet finished," Trent adds. "There are more women and girls who still need the same opportunity that I received. We all have a moral obligation to create opportunities and nurturing environments for those in less advantaged positions. As evaluators, the effect of our work becomes the delicate web of possibilities and innovations needed by programs and policy makers to establish meaningful programs that can have optimal impact thereby enabling those in lesser advantaged circumstances to succeed."
TechTalk - AEA's Online Forums - Introduce Yourself and Get Connected
From LaMarcus Bolton, AEA Technology Director
BoltonFrom a past TechTalk article, you learned about LinkedIn and its online profiles. But, did you also know that AEA has its own online profile system housed within our forums? What is more, setting up a profile is easy and beneficial! Simply log onto AEA's site using your unique username and password. Once logged in, click "Forums" located directly under the "Resources" drop-down menu. When you are directed to the eGroups Home, the "Resources" menu will provide a link for you to update your profile.
There are many ways to customize your profile. You can upload a photo of yourself with current contact information. In addition, you can create a summarized version of your resume or curriculum vitae by entering your interests, education, and employment information. The profile also allows you to write a short biographical blurb about yourself.
What are the benefits of posting this information? The possibilities are endless! By providing your contact information, your evaluation colleagues on the forums can easily get ahold of you. And even better, others can recognize you at AEA conferences and other events from your photo! Other AEA members will be able to match a name to a face easily.
If you are looking for employment, internships, or research collaborations, you may also find the profiles an indispensable tool. By providing information about your interests and professional endeavors, others can locate you based on the information you provide. You can do the same if you are looking to expand your professional network. Utilize the profile as a way to market yourself and connect at the same time!
Creating an identity for yourself on the forum can also aid in connecting you to esteemed evaluators and researchers, such as the guest discussants on the Thought Leadership Discussions Series. This intellectual exchange of thoughts and ideas can be found on the President's forum. There are also other forums that may fit your interest, including the Technology Forum and New Member Forum. Please consider becoming an active participant in the forums, and in the process, let everyone know who you are with an updated profile! If you have any comments, questions, or concerns about the forums in general or the profile feature of the forums, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]
New Volunteer Opportunities with AEA
Looking for ways to get involved in the life of the association? AEA's new Member Involvement Initiative (MII) has the following updates related to new volunteer opportunities within AEA:
Washington, DC Local Affiliate Call for Speakers: The Washington DC Evaluators (WE) Local Affiliate is planning a year's worth of brownbag sessions around the theme "Phases of Evaluation" from pre-evaluation planning to use of evaluation results. If you will be in the DC area at some point between March and December of 2010 and are working on an interesting project with lessons learned, or are an author of a book (completed or in progress) that ties to their theme, this may be the perfect opportunity to engage with a community of professionals. The brown bag meetings are two hours in length with approximately 90-minutes of that time devoted to the presentation and discussion. Presentations are free to attendees and speakers are not paid. Please contact Brian Yoder at [email protected] to discuss presenting your work in this context. 
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:

What's new this month in the AEA Online Career Center? The following positions and Requests for Proposals (RFPs) have been added recently:
  • Evaluator at Indiana Prevention Resource Center (Bloomington, IN)
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Director at IntraHealth International (Washington, DC)
  • Evaluation Consultant at Points of Light Institute and Hands On Network (Atlanta, GA)
  • Research and Evaluation Officer at Johns Hopkins University, The Center for Communication Programs (Baltimore, MD)
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at ACDI/VOCA (IRAQ)
  • Director of Research and Evaluation at Citizen Schools (Boston, MA)
  • Program Associate for Evaluation at Social Impact (Arlington, VA)
  • President/Chief Executive Officer at Berkeley Policy Associates (Oakland, CA)
  • Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Thematic Director at Sasakawa Africa Association (Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA)
  • Research Assistant Level 2 at Ciurczak & Company Inc. (Buffalo, NY)
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
New Evaluation PhD Program at Seton Hall University
The College of Education and Human Services at Seton Hall University has added a new concentration of Education Research, Assessment and Program Evaluation to its existing Ph.D. program offerings. This concentration is intended to meet the demands for professional staff and leaders in educational organizations focused on data-driven decision making, program evaluation, assessment and testing, and faculty pedagogical development.
Seton Hall's informational material notes that "the program focuses on developing organizational capacity to generate and use data in the instructional, policy and decision making processes so that education leaders can meet the growing challenges of fostering education equity and quality."

The new concentration will be overseen by AEA member Elaine Walker, who notes "we started this concentration because of the growing demand for quality evaluation and the need to have strong preparation programs at the doctoral level for future evaluators."

If you would like to learn more about the range of university programs in evaluation, take a moment to review our university programs page.  If you are part of a program that is not listed, please contact [email protected] so that we may get you added and spread the word!
Get Involved
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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.
phone: 1-508-748-3326 or 1-888-232-2275