Newsletter: July 2010Vol 10, Issue 7

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AEA's 2010 Evaluation Quality Conference Speaker

cooksy2

Dear Colleagues,

 

Now that notices about proposals have gone out and registration is open, I am starting to get excited about our conference in November! The theme of Evaluation Quality seems to have stimulated many interesting sessions and the program looks fabulous. With thanks to my Presidential Strand Co-Chairs, Valerie Caracelli and Rodney Hopson, I am particularly pleased to be able to announce our opening plenary speaker/performer, Anna Deavere Smith. Ms. Smith is a distinguished artist, internationally known for creating a form of documentary theatre that combines the journalistic technique of interviews with the art of interpreting the words of her interviewees through performance. Ms. Smith has won numerous awards, among them two Obies, two Tony nominations, a Drama Desk Award, and a MacArthur fellowship. Valerie and Rodney have worked to organize plenary presentations that will take us out of our usual ways of thinking about our work. While Ms. Smith is not an evaluator, her work encompasses the truth, beauty, and justice dimensions of evaluation quality and I anticipate that her plenary presentation will be something special.

 

Now that I have given you a reason to be in San Antonio in time for the opening plenary, let me also tell you why you should stay through to the very end. The final session on Saturday will also be a plenary, chaired by incoming president Jennifer Greene, where the past five AEA presidents - Debra Rog, Bill Trochim, Hallie Preskill, Mel Mark, and Sharon Rallis - will be sharing their reflections on the conference theme. I'm looking forward to their insights and I'm sure you will, too.

 

While I am anticipating the fun of November, I should also let you know that the AEA Board has been hard at work. At our recent meeting, we reviewed association policies related to governance, voted on policy recommendations from the Multicultural Task Force and the Evaluation Policy Task Force, and discussed additional ways to seek member input. Our recent requests for member input on draft bylaws and the Evaluation Roadmap were successful, thank you, and now we'd like to heighten your participation beyond reactions to documents. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how to increase communication from the members to the Board and vice versa. You can email me directly at [email protected]. I look forward to your input and will keep you posted as our plans develop.

 

Wishing you the best in these warm summer months!


Leslie
 
Leslie Cooksy
2010 AEA President
In This Issue
Policy Watch with George Grob
Meet Lorna Escoffery
TechTalk with LaMarcus Bolton
Book: Evaluation in the Face of Uncertainty
New Volunteer Ops
New Jobs Postings
Get Involved
About Us
Quick Links
Policy Watch - Evaluation and the Global Health Initiative
From George Grob, Consultant to the Evaluation Policy Task Force
 
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In past articles, we have focused on evaluation policies established through budget decisions and legislative changes. However, there are other important policy making mechanisms, including program management initiatives. Such initiatives are often associated with budget proposals, but go far beyond the dollars. They can be powerful forces that result in enduring changes in attitudes, expectations, goals, strategies, organizations, and administrative procedures. In essence, they can establish new ways of doing business. One good example is the President's Global Health Initiative (GHI).

On May 5, 2009, U.S. President Barrack Obama announced his proposal to spend $63 billion over six years to significantly reduce deaths from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. However, he also noted the need to "improve health systems around the world, focus our efforts on child and maternal health, and ensure that best practices drive the funding for these programs." The emphasis on improving health systems and adoption of "best practices" has subsequently been refined and promoted within all U.S. international health programs, including those funded and operated by the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, the Administration for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The strategy and implementation details are described in Implementation of the Global Health Initiative, Consultation Document.

The following goals guide the initiative:
  • Implement a woman- and girl-centered approach
  • Increase impact through strategic coordination and integration
  • Strengthen and leverage key multilateral organizations, global health partnerships and private sector engagement
  • Encourage country ownership and invest in country-led plans
  • Build sustainability through health systems strengthening
  • Improve metrics, monitoring and evaluation
  • Promote research and innovation
Evaluation is a fundamental aspect of the initiative. References to it are pervasive. I invite those who are interested to word search the string "evaluat" in the pdf to see just how embedded evaluation is. One indicator of the importance accorded to evaluation is an unusual 10 percent evaluation set aside of GHI funds that will be provided to up to 20 "GHI Plus" countries. These countries will be selected from among those that provide significant opportunities for impact, evalua­tion, and partnership with governments. The 10 percent set aside will be used to design and implement an intensive monitoring and evaluation effort, and to broadly disseminate findings.
 
From an evaluation policy standpoint, a new dynamic and instrumentality is at work in the Global Health Initiative. Evaluation policy will evolve on the ground. What people actually do will determine how ingrained evaluation will become as a sine qua non of international public health programs. If evaluation is truly useful, it will be in demand. If not, it won't.
 
I am curious to know what AEA members think about all this and what evaluators can do to make evaluation truly useful in the GHI initiative. The Policy Discussion List is a good way to share ideas.
 
Go to the Evaluation Policy Discussion List and Join the Conversation
Meet Lorna Escoffery - Independent Consultant  
AEA's 6,200 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 Answers column. This month's profile spotlights Lorna Escoffery, an independent consultant in Miami, Florida, who specializes in health and education.
 

EscofferyName: Lorna A. Escoffery

Affiliation: President - Escoffery Consulting Collaborative, Inc.

Degrees: Ph.D. in Higher Education and Leadership (University of Miami, Florida), Master of Arts in Administration and Policy Analysis (Stanford University, California), Bachelor of Science in Human Relations (University of San Francisco, California)

Years in the Evaluation Field: 9 years
Joined AEA: 2007
AEA Leadership Includes: Business Chair, Nonprofit and Foundations TIG; Member, Recruitment Task Force

Why do you belong to AEA?

"Associations, such as AEA, are formed so that interested people can act in concert on issues, problems and opportunities related to a respective industry or profession. Evaluation is a dynamic business that must respond quickly to changes, trends and/or needs and AEA provides a forum to discuss and identify the best ways to try to handle these matters. It is also a social setting for bringing together practitioners in order to share experiences, interests, attitudes and opinions."

 

Why do you choose to work in the field of evaluation?

"I choose to work in evaluation because it is a challenging field that addresses relevant issues and needs. Evaluation is an effective way to deal with challenges while also being exciting and satisfying. Collaborating with clients in developing a project, exploring ways to address problems or identifying approaches that bring together critical stakeholders, is very rewarding and a constant source of professional renewal."

 

What's the most memorable or meaningful evaluation that you've been a part of - and why?

"All the evaluations I have facilitated have been memorable; however, some stand out more than others. In one of these evaluations I was involved from the beginning when staff was starting to develop the program (Blind Babies Program for the Miami Lighthouse). This gave me the opportunity to work with the community in identifying needs, clients, practitioners, and funding to create a unique program that became a national model. Another memorable evaluation involved the review of statewide and national programs for the Alpha 1 Foundation and it had the support of the board and staff. The process took longer than expected but resulted in the recommendation to close a program. The involvement of staff and board were instrumental in the success of the process and eventual implementation of the recommendations."

 

What advice would you give to those new to the field?

"Evaluation can be very humbling and sometimes frustrating. But if you have an insatiable curiosity, genuinely like people and can be your own critic then you are off to a good start. You must believe in the power of ideas and collaboration. Flexibility and a good sense of humor can also be very helpful."

 

If you know someone who represents The Face of AEA, send recommendations to AEA's Communications Director, Gwen Newman, at [email protected].
TechTalk - Using RSS to Personalize Your Information Flow
From LaMarcus Bolton, AEA Technology Director
 
Bolton

Last April, I introduced many of you to RSS feeds, which is a technology that AEA has increasingly used to bring our members regular content. Just to briefly recap, "RSS" stands for Rich Site Summary, or more commonly known, Really Simple Syndication. It is a way to subscribe to regularly updated website content - news headlines, blog entries, audio, and video - and have it delivered to your very own personal RSS Reader (e.g., Google Reader, Bloglines, or FeedShow). AEA has used this technology to inform our members of updates to journals, job postings, evaluation headlines, and most recently, our aea365 Tip-a-Day Alerts.

 

However, considering the recent significant expansions in our AEA Community Site, we quickly began to realize that the increase in content could consequently make it harder for our members to manage all of the available information. Fortunately, we have recently added new functionality that allows members to create a customized personal  RSS feed, which is an aggregate of only those selected feeds of interest. For example, you can easily subscribe to new postings from your favorite eGroups (including my favorites - the Technology Forum and Thought Leaders Forum) and resource libraries. This is all delivered to you in an easy-to-manage aggregated format.        

 

Setting up your own personal AEA RSS feed couldn't be easier. To access your personal RSS feed, sign into the AEA website and click on the "Community" heading within the navigation bar on the AEA homepage. After the AEA Community navigation bar appears, click on the "My RSS Feed" heading. Here, you are presented with all of the available subscription options for our eGroups and resource libraries. Simply check those feeds that you would like to add and click the "save" button on the lower-right. After tailoring your subscriptions, scroll down and copy the unique URL for your customized aggregate feed. You can then add the link to your RSS reader of choice. Conversely, for your convenience, we have also provided buttons to automatically add your news feed to the most popular online RSS readers.

 

We encourage you take advantage of the RSS technology and truly make it your own! If you run into any issues, or have general questions, comments, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected].

Evaluation in the Face of Uncertainty 

MorellAEA member Jonathan A. Morell is author of Evaluation in the Face of Uncertainty: Anticipating Surprise and Responding to the Inevitable, a new book published by Guilford Press.  

From the Publisher's Site

"Unexpected events during an evaluation all too often send evaluators into crisis mode. This insightful book provides a systematic framework for diagnosing, anticipating, accommodating, and reining in costs of evaluation surprises. The result is evaluation that is better from a methodological point of view, and more responsive to stakeholders. Jonathan A. Morell identifies the types of surprises that arise at different stages of a program's life cycle and that may affect different aspects of the evaluation, from stakeholder relationships to data quality, methodology, funding, deadlines, information use, and program outcomes. His analysis draws on 18 concise cases from well-known researchers in a variety of evaluation settings. Morell offers guidelines for responding effectively to surprises and for determining the risks and benefits of potential solutions."

 

From the Author

"I enjoy my every day evaluation work. There is always something new and interesting to learn. But the daily grind does not push me very far beyond my intellectual frontiers. This project got me deep into terra incognita. I started with an offhand interest in why programs act in unexpected ways. Then I got interested in what that meant for how evaluation is done. From small beginnings, as they say. It got to be a very big effort. A catch phrase I use in the book is, "From firefighting to systematic action." I'm hoping the book will encourage a community of interest to help us deal with surprise in a systematic way. That's something new. The eighteen cases I used are not enough. I'm still collecting. If anyone has any, send them my way!"

 

About the Author

Jonathan A. Morell (Jonny) spends his professional life integrating across practitioner and theoretical interests. As a practitioner he evaluates organizational change, R&D, and safety programs. He is also heavily involved in designing organizational change. His theoretical interests include the nature and use of logic models, the role of Lean Six Sigma methodologies in evaluation, complex system behavior, and the nature of practical action. He is the editor of Evaluation and Program Planning.  Jonny is active in the American Evaluation Association, where he has been instrumental in founding two topical interest groups - Systems and Business and Industry. He is a recipient of AEA's Robert Ingle Distinguished Service Award. Jonny is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Vector Research Center, a division of TechTeam Government Solutions. His Ph.D. in Psychology is from Northwestern University.

 

All AEA members receive 20% off the retail price of all books and journals ordered directly from Guilford Press as part of AEA's Publishing Partners program. To receive your 20% discount, use the promotional code "AEA" online or call 1-800-365-7006.

Go to the Publisher's Site

Volunteer Opportunities - Nights Out Hosts & Student Volunteers
Looking for ways to get involved in the life of the assocation? AEA's new Member Involvement Initiative (MII) has the following updates related to new volunteer opportunities within AEA.
 
Evaluation 2010 Nights Out Host: Want to have a great evening out, meet colleagues, and build your professional network? We're looking for Nights Out Hosts for the annual conference. Nights Out Hosts lead a small group (usually 10-12 people who sign up in advance) of conference attendees as they go out to dinner, go dancing, or attend a cultural event. This year's event will be Thursday, November 11. You don't need to know the city, just tell us the type of outing you'd prefer (or let us choose for you!) and we'll coordinate it, post it on our nights out page, make reservations, etc. What do you do? Show up 15 minutes prior to departure at the conference registration area, help to gather your group (there will be staff on hand to assist), walk to the downtown location (there are lots of great options right in downtown San Antonio and we'll be sure you have a map), generate conversation and ensure everyone feels welcomed. Nights out are Dutch-treat, so each attendee and the host pays her or his own costs. Want to sign up? Contact Gwen at [email protected] and tell her your interests (bonus points if you already have a destination in mind or an option to suggest).
 
Evaluation 2010 Student Volunteers: Volunteering at the conference is a great way to meet other student-colleagues as well as a range of conference attendees! By volunteering, you will be eligible to receive a free conference registration. Volunteers must be enrolled full-time in a college/university. Students will assist in a scheduled position for approximately four hours on-site. We cannot run our conference without volunteers and this is a great way for students to get move involved. Volunteer slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis and a full list of volunteer openings and signup instructions can be found online at online. We encourage you to sign up at your earliest convenience in order to get a timeslot that works for you.
New Jobs & RFPs from AEA's 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:

  • Senior Program Specialist, Instructional Technology/Design at Edvantia, Inc. (Charleston, WV, USA) 
  • Director - REL at Education Northwest (Portland, OR, USA) 
  • Research and Evaluation Analyst at Children's Services Council, Palm Beach County (Boynton Beach, FL, USA)  
  • Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Officer at IntraHealth International (Chapel Hill, NC, USA)
  • Spanish Bilingual Research Assitant at Harder+Company Community Research (San Francisco, CA, USA) 
  • Human Factors/Program Evaluation Specialist at Fulcrum Corporation (Fairfax, VA, USA) 
  • Learning and Evaluation Specialist at Latin America Youth Center (Washington, DC, USA)
  • Evaluation Research Associate at Tufts Medical center (Boston, MA, USA)
  • HCZ Evaluation Fellow at Harlem Children's Zone (New York City, NY, USA)
  • Research Associate II at University of Southern Maine (Augusta, ME, USA)
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 4300 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
Get Involved
Get the most from your membership by taking advantage of the many things that you can do right now to participate in the life of the association, share your input, and promote your business.    
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