AEA Conference Week: Beverly Parsons on Linking the 2013 and 2014 AEA Conferences

Hi, I’m Beverly Parsons, the American Evaluation Association President for 2014. I’m excited as we approach our 2013 conference. I know we will come away informed and inspired.

VisionaryEvaluationThe AEA365 team asked me to share ideas about how this year’s conference can serve as a springboard for preparing for next year’s conference on Visionary Evaluation for a Sustainable, Equitable Future. The 2014 conference will be an opportunity to tap the wisdom of diverse relationships and systems thinking to connect evaluation to the premier challenge of our time—a global sustainable, equitable future.

Here are tips for both gaining from the richness of the 2013 conference and preparing for 2014.

Hot Tip—On building relationships. Enhance your theories and practices by building relationships with people from different backgrounds. To get ideas about working across our “big tent,” attend Jody Fitzpatrick’s plenary session, The Breadth of Evaluation Practice Today: Arenas, Disciplines, and Influences.

Hot Tip—On understanding sustainable and equitable living. Understand the many ways people talk about sustainability and equity. Attend the Sustainability and the Public Good think tank session, sponsored by the Environmental Program Evaluation TIG.Seven facilitators, including a minister, an ecologist, a legislative staffer, a United Nations coordinator, and an independent consultant, will spark the conversations with diverse perspectives on sustainability. In breakout sessions, we will discuss the multiple meanings of sustainability and its relationship to evaluation.

Hot Tip—On integrating systems thinking. Attend a session to help you strengthen how you engage in systems thinking.For example:

•   The State of Developmental Evaluation in the Early 21st Century, expert lecture by Michael Quinn Patton. TIG Sponsor: Systems in Evaluation;

•   Beyond Aggregation: Supporting Large-scale Complex Initiatives Through Collaborative Synthesis, panel. TIG Sponsors: Systems in Evaluation; International and Cross-cultural Evaluation;

•   Complexity Made Simple: Systems Models for Evaluation Practice, multi-paper session. TIG Sponsors: Systems in Evaluation; Data Visualization and Reporting; and Pre-K – 12 Educational Evaluation.

Hot Tip—On shaping the 2014 conference.We need all your voices as we prepare for 2014. Here are some ways to get heard:

•   Attend sessions where you can meet others interested in creating a 2014 session on visionary evaluation.

•   Attend the Environmental Program Evaluation TIG meeting(Session 370). Matt Keene, 2014 program chair, and I will lead a discussion to hear your ideas about topics and speakers for the 2014 presidential strand.

•   Bend my ear whenever you see me!

Rad Resources: Presenters are eager for conversations that help them rethink both their practices and yours. To contact presenters, use the 2013 conference program’s Index of Presenters and Contributors. (If you can’t make it to the conference, contact presenters through their email addresses available in the searchable online program.)

All this week, we’re sharing perspectives and voices from the American Evaluation Association Annual Conference being held this week in Washington, DC.

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