AZENet Week: Cassandra O’Neill and Amy Ashley on Local Collaboration for Big Impact

Hi, we’re Cassandra O’Neill, Senior Partner, Wholonomy Consulting, in Tucson AZ, and Amy Ashley, Policy and Research Technical Writer at the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, Arizona State University. Together, we make up the co-president elect position of the Arizona Evaluation Network (AZENet). Welcome to Arizona evaluation week, where we highlight local collaboration for big impact!

Our affiliate is statewide, with active clusters in Tucson and Phoenix. In this last year we’ve broadened our membership and conference participation, intentionally focusing on learning across the social sector through collaboration with a variety of organizations. Our conferences and cluster meetings present cutting edge topics critical to a wide array of organizational missions and their constituencies. In 2011, our spring conference theme was “Evaluation and Innovation”. The fall 2011 conference theme was “System Change, Collective Impact, and Evaluation” with Julia Coffman from the Center for Evaluation Innovation.  Our recent (May) spring conference was on “Building Capacity for Organizational Effectiveness” with Peter York from the TCC Group.

In planning each of these conferences, an important consideration was how to entice as diverse a group of participants as possible. Sarah Griffiths starts out the week with an overview of the conference, and opportunities AZENet found for collaboration in the early planning stages.

Kori Kanayama, shares some of her methodology presentation from the recent conference on building a sustainable organization through assessment of the effectiveness of nonprofit business models.

Funders have contributed significantly to our mission and our gatherings. Two of them have written posts this week, Evan Mendelson from the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona and Catherine Jahnes, formerly of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.  They describe the experience of engaging donors in evaluating system change efforts, and the formation of a funder’s affinity group focused on evaluation.

Amy Schaller and Bryna Koch share lessons learned from their development of a resource website for evaluators.

Our book clubs, one in Phoenix and one in Tucson, have engaged members in deeper learning about hot evaluation topics, first with Developmental Evaluation by Michael Quinn Patton, followed by Evaluation in the Face of Uncertainty by Jonathan A. Morell.  Lenay Dunn and Allison Titcomb write about their experience convening these groups.

We hope you enjoy our week as much as we enjoyed collaborating on it

Hot Tip: Partner with organizations through co-sponsorships of conferences and other events to expand your reach and diversify the audience.

Hot Tip: Select cutting edge issues of interest to the field and use high engagement facilitation to allow for cross-fertilization among the different parts of the social sector.


The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Arizona Evaluation Network (AZENet) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the AZENet AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our AZE members. 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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