AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Hi there! My name is Bemene Piaro. I am an epidemiologist, a longtime resident of the Greater Atlanta area, and peace and social justice activist. Atlanta is known for promoting change through social justice.

Rad Resource: Social Justice Opportunities. Whenever Georgia has an execution scheduled, one can elect to protest the death penalty at the state capital with Georgians For an Alternative to the Death Penalty (GFADP) and a host of other organizations; or on any Wednesday, one can protest war or any number of issues he or she is passionate about on Moreland Avenue and Ponce de Leon with the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition. The Health Law Partnership (HeLP) offers legal services for clients of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta who would otherwise be unable to afford a lawyer. Similar to HeLP, the Georgia Justice Project and the Southern Center for Human Rights provide legal services free of charge to those in the prison system or facing criminal charges and their families. A host of other nonprofits carry out direct services as well as legislative advocacy aspects, including, Lost-N-Found Youth, which advocates for homeless LGBT youth, and the Central Outreach and Advocacy Center, which provides a wide variety of services to homeless men and women in addition to advocating around key legislative issues which they believe impact homelessness. While many of these organizations regularly write about their work and produce facts about their fields only HeLP and the Lost-N-Found Youth showcase quantitative assessments of their impact on their websites.

Questions to Ponder: How might evaluations inform us about the unique roles peace and justice organizations serve in addressing health determinants in a quantifiable way?

Rad Resources: Atlanta AEA affiliate. The Atlanta affiliate of the American Evaluation Association recently piloted a pro-bono evaluation program, which could aid peace and justice focused non-profits ready to explore evaluation. For more information visit: http://atl-eval.org/get-involved-with-aaea/pro-bono-evaluation/.

Rad Resources: The Health Law Partnership (HeLP)’s website is a good resource for nonprofits trying to understand what evaluation could mean for them. Check out this link to learn more: https://healthlawpartnership.org/evaluation__research/program_evaluation/.

We’re looking forward to October and the Evaluation 2016 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

Hello! We are Kate Hurd and Meenoo Mishra, local Atlanta public health consultants and lovers of good food! We’re excited to welcome you to Atlanta for the American Evaluation Association conference in October. Our city offers many exciting experiences and culinary delights. In this blog, we highlight our favorite neighborhoods in Atlanta and the great food you can find here.

Hot Tips: Atlanta is home to many unique neighborhood where you can find a range of delicious options. One favorite neighborhood for good ethnic eats is Buford Highway. More of a long stretch of road than a neighborhood, both sides of the highway are full of global favorites such as Mexican, Korean, Malaysian, Chinese, and Vietnamese restaurants. This is a bit of a drive, but if you have a car we recommend you don’t miss out! Some favorite picks are:

Krog Street Market in Inman Park is another fun and tasty option. It’s a collection of local food stalls, restaurants, and retail shops in a beautiful 1920s warehouse. Notable restaurants are Gu’s Dumplings, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and Yalla for Mediterranean food. Krog Street Market is a short Uber ride away from the conference and a guaranteed good time!

There are a variety of dining options available downtown near the conference site. With more than 300 restaurants in the area, there truly is something for everyone. Here are some of our favorites!

A 15-minute walk from the conference will put you at Sweet Auburn Curb Market in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood. Steeped in history, The Curb Market includes produce and meat merchants, a full service bakery, a bookstore, pharmacy, and eleven eateries that includes barbeque and arepas!

Finally, Ponce City Market is a newly restored historic building located in Old Fourth Ward. It is a mixed-use development with several restaurants, a food hall, as well as boutiques and retail shops. Ponce City Market is located 1.5 miles away from the North Avenue Marta Station and there is a free shuttle bus to take you from Marta to the market.

Bon Appetit!

We’re looking forward to October and the Evaluation 2016 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

Hi, we are Omoshalewa Bamkole and Natalie Taylor, student members of the Atlanta-area Evaluation Association and the Local Affiliate Working Group. This post is designed to share our perspective on Atlanta, some downtown eats, and experiences. Since you’ll be an Atlantan for the duration of the conference, it’s important for you to understand some idiosyncrasies that make this city unique. We hope this will give you a sneak peek of what’s to come when you visit Atlanta this October.

Hot Tip: “The Perimeter.” Whether you’re inside or outside the perimeter can be the deciding factor in understanding the local geography. Interstate 285 is the major highway that circles the metropolitan area of Atlanta, and serves as a boundary line for most locals. If you’re an Atlanta native, being “inside the perimeter” (ITP) or “outside the perimeter” (OTP) will make for huge differences in lifestyle. Being ITP may be for those who like the fast paced nature of the city and easy access to a variety of arts and cultural centers, while being OTP lends itself to a more family-friendly and suburban environment.

Hot Tip: Atlanta Neighborhoods. While in the ATL, you’ll be blown away by the unique, eclectic neighborhoods sprawling throughout the region. Check out the giant skull at the Vortex in Little Five Points. Visit the birthsite of Martin Luther King Jr. in Sweet Auburn, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If possible, venture to the historical Cabbagetown District and see a revitalized former textile mill community.

Fun Facts:

Atlanta Firsts

 Must See’s in Atlanta

  • Don’t miss out on some delicious Southern cooking. Make your reservation at Southern Elements today, and try recipes from Charleston all the way to the Mississippi Gulf.
  • Visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to learn about movements of the past and present-day, and the role you can play in achieving equality for all!
  • Get up close to the latest breaking global news at the CNN Center! Take the “Inside CNN Studio Tour” for an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime view of their global headquarters.
  • Look no further for a place to quench your thirst and begin your quest for Coke’s famous secret recipe than at the World of Coca-Cola!
  • Experience Atlanta railways, trails, parks, housing, and artsy green spaces by foot or bike along the Beltline!

 

We’re looking forward to October and the Evaluation 2016 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

Welcome to Atlanta! We are Elizabeth Runkle, a Senior Consultant and Regional Manager with the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and Dayna S. Alexander, Evaluation Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Division of Reproductive Health (DRH).

Atlanta has a wide variety of nonprofits from large international relief organizations to small arts focused community based organizations. In 2015, the Atlanta Metro Area had four of the top 20 nonprofit organizations in the country including two in downtown Atlanta – the Boys and Girls Club National Headquarters and the American Cancer Society. Atlanta is also home to several nationally known place-based collaborations between nonprofits, private and public partners. Located in Atlanta’s historic Mechanicsville neighborhood, Dunbar Learning Center brings together several nonprofits in one location that focus on children birth to 5th grade along with their parents. This collaboration has brought together the Annie E Casey Foundation’s Civic Site, Sheltering Arms Early Education and Family Center, the Center for Working Families, Westside Works and many others. Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood has brought funders, nonprofits, government and private partners together to change the landscape and economics of this neighborhood.

Hot tips, lessons learned, and rad resources for those interested in conducting evaluation work with nonprofits include:

Hot Tip #1: Develop a realistic timeline. Because nonprofit settings have many competing priorities and some staff have limited knowledge of evaluation, it is vital to develop a timeline for evaluation tasks. This helps with accountability, organizing the work, and alleviates stress for both the evaluator and the nonprofit.

Hot Tip #2: Develop evaluation questions based on resources and priorities. The evaluator and nonprofit staff members should develop clear evaluation questions and prioritize them according to the evaluation purpose and the resources available. 

Lessons Learned: Communicate effectively and efficiently with the nonprofit team. Provide weekly updates with the nonprofit staff members about the status of assigned tasks, challenges, and their needs. An open line of communication will help build trust, improve teamwork, and help reach consensus. 

Lessons Learned: Be flexible. When working with nonprofits it is important to adapt to new priorities and respond quickly. This demonstrates to nonprofit staff members that you are committed to the assigned project and the evaluation will be successfully conducted.

Rad Resource:

Georgia Center for Nonprofits works to build thriving communities by helping nonprofits succeed. through a powerful mix of advocacy, solutions for nonprofit effectiveness, and insight building tools, GCN provides nonprofits, board members and donors with the tools they need to strengthen organizations that make a difference on important causes throughout Georgia.

 

We’re looking forward to October and the Evaluation 2016 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

Greetings! My name is Dayna S. Alexander, and I’m in the Evaluation Fellowship Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Division of Reproductive Health (DRH). The Evaluation Fellowship Program, coordinated via the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), is in its 6th year, hosts 20 Fellows per year for 2-year engagements, and is one of the main ways evaluation capacity is built for CDC programs. Let me share the history of CDC and information about evaluation and CDC.

In the United States, the Malaria Control in War Areas (MCWA) was established in 1942 to control malaria around military training bases. Concluding World War II, Dr. Joseph W. Mountin envisioned an agency that would support state and local health agencies in investigating and controlling communicable disease outbreaks. In 1946, the MCWA then became the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) targeting malaria, typhus, and other infectious diseases. It was decided that the CDC should be located in Atlanta, Georgia because the South had the most malaria transmissions. Throughout the years, minor changes have been made to the name; yet, the initials (CDC) have remained the same. CDC celebrates its 70th Anniversary this year, 2016.

Currently, the CDC is known as the nation’ s leading public health agency focusing on five strategic areas including the following: supporting state and local health departments, improving global health, implementing measures to decrease leading causes of death, strengthening surveillance and epidemiology, and reforming health policies. At the CDC, program evaluation supports the five strategic areas, through efforts of CDC programs, and, often, through agreements with partners at the state and community level.

Rad Resource: CDC’s Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health, which just celebrated its 17th anniversary, provides a set of steps and standards for effective and practical program evaluations. While the focus is on public health programs, the approach has been generalized to any evaluation effort.

Rad Resource: Besides overseeing the Evaluation Fellowship Program. CDC’s Program Performance and Evaluation Office (PPEO) sets standards and expectations for agency-wide evaluation, delivers tools, technical assistance and resources to enhance evaluation efforts, and provides support for evaluation capacity-building across CDC programs and external partners.

Lesson Learned: If there are any core principles underlying CDC’s approach, it is the idea of utility or utilization-focused evaluation. Evaluation, rather than being a set of specific methods, needs to be right-sized to meet the needs of the user and the situation in which the evaluation is being conducted. This is how we ensure that evaluation findings are used for program improvement.

We’re looking forward to October and the Evaluation 2016 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

 

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Hello again! We are Linda Vo-Green, Krista Collins and Lindsey Barranco of the Atlanta-area Evaluation Association (AaEA), and your chairs for the Local Arrangements Working Group for Evaluation 2016 in Atlanta. This week we want to help you prepare for your trip and get excited about all the things Atlanta has to offer!

AAEA

Hot Tip: The easiest and cheapest way to get downtown from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is to hop on MARTA, Atlanta’s public transportation system. From the airport, take the Red or Gold line going Northbound, and for $2.50 you will be at Peachtree Center, located inside the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in 18 minutes. In fact, a lot of Atlanta’s main attractions can be conveniently reached by travelling on MARTA! If the subway is not for you, grab a shuttle, taxi or Uber at the airport for your convenience.

Stay near the hotel and explore different activities near Peachtree Center, the Georgia Dome, the Georgia World Congress Center, Phillips Arena and CNN:

  • Centennial Olympic Park: A legacy to the 1996 Summer Olympics, Centennial Park is a 21-acre outdoor park in the heart of downtown Atlanta. Time it right and see the interactive Fountain of Rings show! There are a number of amazing attractions around the park as well including the largest aquarium in the Western hemisphere – the Georgia Aquarium. Right next door is, the World of Coca-Cola, the CNN Center, and nearby, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
  • Atlanta Movie Tours: Atlanta is quickly becoming the Hollywood of the South! Sign-up for a movie tour and see where fan favorites like The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games are filmed.

Go north towards Midtown, to North and Arts Center to get a taste of Atlanta’s cultural scene:

Interested in more educational activities? Head out to Decatur or Buckhead:

  • Step back in time Fernbank Museum of Natural History and enjoy award-winning exhibits, IMAX movies and interactive experiences
  • Stop by the Atlanta History Center to learn about southern traditions and culture, spanning centuries from early settlers, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, to the current urban metropolis Atlanta is today.

We’re looking forward to October and the Evaluation 2016 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

Hi my name is Jayne Corso and I am the Community Manager for AEA.

Twitter is a great tool for staying social at conferences. It provides real-time opportunities for sharing content and insights. Here are a few tips to help you be social during your upcoming conferences! You can even use these at Evaluation 2016.

Follow the Conference Hashtag

Most conferences have a hastag which allows you to follow information and news relating to the event. On Twitter, the pound sign (or hash) turns any word that directly follow it into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on keywords. While at a conference, search for the appropriate hashtag (this will most likely be posted at the conference) to see all discussions taking place around the event. From here you can retweet, or even create your own post to stay active in the conversation. At Evaluation 2016, you can use #Eval16.

Retweet Other Users

While attending a conference, retweet posts by other attendees. Retweeting will allow you to spread content to more followers on Twitter and will give you the opportunity to be included in conversations surrounding the event.

Live Tweet a Session

Sharing insights and quotes from presentations and speakers is a great way to help evaluators who couldn’t attend the conference or decided to attend a different session. Live tweeting also helps you build relationships with the speakers. Find the speaker on twitter and add their twitter handle to your post!

Share Photos of your Experience

Photos are a great way to tell a story about your experience at the conference and allow evaluators who were not able to attend an opportunity to visualize the conference. Photos are dominant on Twitter, meaning your photos will be more likely to be retweeted by other attendees, the conference host, and speakers, expanding your exposer to a larger community.

I can’t wait to see what everyone tweets come October at Evaluation 2016! Follow AEA at @aeaweb and use #Eval16 to follow updates and news about the conference.

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Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Throughout the course of our GEDI experience, we have been immersed in cultural competence and culturally responsive evaluation. We learned the fundamentals of cultural competence in seminars at Claremont Graduate University and explored the prevalence of culturally responsive evaluation topics at AEA’s annual meeting. The unique opportunity of being able to observe the work of teams at our intern sites provided an especially useful experience of what it is like to not only practice culturally responsive evaluation, but also how to work within settings that are new to evaluation practice. While the knowledge we gained through our GEDI trainings was beneficial in preparing us for our sites, our experiences working within groups that were not accustomed to evaluation, or culturally responsive evaluation more specifically, gave us a unique opportunity to practice our newly acquired knowledge.

Lessons Learned from our GEDI Site Experiences:

Working on a team can be challenging when balancing multiple personalities and working styles to reach a common goal or deliverable. This can be particularly challenging when working on an evaluation project because often the teams include members external to your organization (clients, external partners, beneficiaries). Cultural competence, as we have observed, emanates from clear communication among evaluation team members and working within existing organizational structures to incorporate culturally competent evaluation practice. Some ways that the teams we have observed have navigated cultural competence were:

  • Embedded culturally responsive practices within the team’s regular protocol – Evaluation teams that work with many external clients tend to have routine processes for carrying out their scope of work from start to finish. When culturally responsive practices are embedded into these routines, it makes them necessary for all members of the team to consider and complete. It also helps to guarantee that even those who might not be coming to the table with a background in cultural competence can learn and become more familiar with its use.
  • For groups or organizations working with clients who are unfamiliar with evaluation practice – Evaluation can be a scary word to many individuals and organizations. An awareness of an organization’s comfort with and knowledge of evaluation is necessary prior to implementing an evaluation plan. This requires that evaluators practice culturally competent evaluation not only for projects as they pertain to their clients, but also interpersonally when working internally or externally as an evaluator.

Rad Resource:

An excellent resource for those looking for best practices for culturally competent evaluation work comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Practical Strategies for Culturally Competent Evaluation. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s GEDI Program and its interns. For more information on GEDI, see their webpage here: http://www.eval.org/GEDI Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

 

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Hello, we are Dani Rae Gorman and Angela Nancy Mendoza, former scholars of the AEA Graduate Diversity Education Internship (GEDI) program 2015-2016 cohort. We’d like to share some of our lessons learned throughout the program in engaging stakeholders from the inception and throughout the process of evaluation.

Lessons Learned:

Consistent Engagement

Evaluation phases change over a project’s life, and it is important to include stakeholders at each step. In many cases, stakeholders help to plan what they want, but are less involved with tasks such as helping to understand what the data mean and assisting in creating an effective way to communicate these findings. Having the right people involved from the beginning and keeping them involved throughout the evaluation are critical to the process. It increases the evaluation’s accuracy, appropriateness and utility. For example, having evaluation stakeholders involved in the interpretation of results to ensure the evaluators are getting the right message and are aware of important nuances.

Creating Value and Utility

In conducting relevant and accurate evaluations, it is important to understand the cultural context and communities in which the evaluation is to be carried out. Consideration and responsiveness to these factors help to ensure that an evaluation captures nuances and specific needs to help create an evaluation product that is accurate and useful to stakeholders.

Identifying and Engaging a Diversity of Stakeholders

Engaging stakeholders requires the identification of those whom the evaluation will impact. This includes program staff, managers, project leaders, clients, community members, and other stakeholders who may be affected by the evaluation findings. Engaging a diversity of stakeholders aides in creating an understanding of the identity being evaluated, its members and its culture. This in turn helps to ensure that informative questions are asked in the right way and that the outcomes are meaningful and useful to stakeholders.

Hot Tip:

Be patient and flexible in working to engage stakeholders through the evaluation process. It can be a challenge to facilitate engagement throughout the stages of an evaluation and individuals may have different experiences, perspectives, and responsibilities, but consistent engagement can create added value and utility of evaluation findings.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s GEDI Program and its interns. For more information on GEDI, see their webpage here: http://www.eval.org/GEDI Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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We are Dominic Combs and Marques Hogan, scholars of the GEDI program’s 13th cohort. Through professional development, conferences, mentoring and internships in organizations that value culturally responsive evaluation, the GEDI program makes space for scholars to learn and practice. Further, the yearlong experience encourages scholars to challenge their capacities and pursue careers that we previously did not consider. We’d like to share with the AEA community a few lessons learned that helped us to grow beyond novice evaluator into responsive roles. 

Lessons Learned:

  1. Positionality & Self-Reflection: Understanding personal biases before, during and after evaluation work is an intricate component of culturally responsive evaluation. As interns it was important for us to carefully monitor our positionality and understand the intersections of self-to-self, self-to-others, and self-to-systems (Symonette, 2009) as our work engaged stakeholders from various communities and schools across the United States. Self-reflection allowed us to recognize and address our positionalities’ impact on the work.
  2. Inclusiveness: Evaluators can make space for all stakeholders to be seen and heard at multiple points in the evaluation (i.e., learning & engaging stakeholders, data collection and interpretation, and disseminating results). This allows communities to contribute input to shape evaluations that are uniquely meaningful to their needs. Evaluators can always advocate against a one-size fits all approach.
  3. Evaluator Characteristics: In a program workshop, GEDI program co-founder Dr. Hazel Symonette shared that “good evaluators should be open to new ideas, light on their feet, learning centered and responsive.” Each stakeholder possessed their own wants, needs, and levels of expertise, therefore being able to communicate effectively at each level allows for increased validity in evaluation with clear, specific, and obtainable objectives.

Rad Resources:

Dr. Symonette’s work allows professionals to examine what they bring to an evaluation (information, perceptions and biases) and how professionals see themselves at different points in an evaluation. We found these resources particularly helpful:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s GEDI Program and its interns. For more information on GEDI, see their webpage here: http://www.eval.org/GEDI Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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