The American Evaluation Association

AEA Colleagues,


In January, 2009, AEA began a transition to a new form of governance for the Board, policy- based governance (PBG). AEA was experiencing a period of rapid growth in members, programs, and directions, and policy-based governance was viewed as a desirable model that could enable the Board to respond well to these association changes. PBG emphasizes the Board's role in serving the members by setting strategic direction through policy and priority setting, while leaving direct administration of the organization to the Executive Director. Some of the desired outcomes of policy-based governance include improved strategic directions, greater transparency and accountability, and increasing opportunities for member involvement.


After two years of Board work on the transition to PBG, the 2011 Board decided it was time to evaluate their progress. AEA announced a request for proposals and, in an open and competitive bidding process, selected JVA Consulting, LLC to evaluate the transition phase to policy-based governance and to provide information for ongoing decisions about AEA governance structures and policies. A member-led Transition Evaluation Oversight Task Force, comprised of Ellen Taylor-Powell, Hazel Symonette, and Benita Williams, worked with JVA to oversee the evaluation. The study began in June 2011 and the final report was reviewed by the Board in January 2012. We are now releasing that report to members.


The evaluation made use of several methods, including interviews with 24 key informants, reviews of AEA and Board documents, observation of a two-day retreat of AEA leaders on governance and issues for the future and a survey of AEA members (to which 734 members or 11.2 percent of the membership responded). The evaluation found that the Board had shifted its focus from operations and management towards policy. Although many respondents were not aware of the details of Board operations or AEA management, most had observed increased transparency and more opportunities for member engagement. In other areas members did not observe change, but did indicate their overall satisfaction with AEA operations and their own level of involvement. JVA concluded that the policy-based governance model, and the adaptations the Board has made to it, fits AEA's current needs. In summary, the consultants found that the transition phase succeeded in moving the Board away from operations and toward policy and strategic thinking, and improved transparency and opportunities for member engagement while leaving members satisfied with AEA.


As a Board, we are pleased with the positive results and will be working on some of the suggestions. In particular, most immediately, and responsive to the evaluation's primary recommendation, we will finalize the replacement structure for the Priority Area Teams (PATs) in the ensuing months and continue to strive to improve communication amongst Board members and with AEA leaders and members regarding policy and strategic planning. These domains of member engagement and communications remain high priorities for AEA. In addition in the near future, the Board will be attending to the evaluation's recommendations to continue to augment opportunities for member engagement in the policy and operational work of the association and to enhance the transparency of Board operations and decisions.


Please download the Transition Evaluation Report from the AEA Public eLibrary here.


If you have questions concerning the report, please feel free to contact any of your 2012 Board members or the Executive Director. We welcome your comments and concerns and I may personally be reached via [email protected] .



Rodney Hopson
AEA 2012 President