CEA Affiliate Week: Evaluation Footprints in Unprecedented Times by Asma M. Ali

Hello! I am Asma M. Ali Ph.D., president of the Chicagoland Evaluation Association [CEA]. CEA, a local affiliate of the American Evaluation Association, is a membership network for evaluators and students in the Chicagoland area to exchange ideas and knowledge, meet other evaluators, and participate in professional development activities that promote evaluation excellence. Our posts this week represent a broad range of disciplines and evaluator interests, including education, healthcare, community-centered evaluation, capacity-building, culturally responsive evaluation, and data visualization. 

In this week’s posts, we aimed to provide examples of how recent events have impacted the evaluation field and our community in Chicagoland. CEA evaluators’ pieces reflect how our profession contributes to a broader understanding of outcomes, the increased representation of diverse voices in decision-making, and innovative communication strategies. There were many lessons to be taken from this week’s posts about the role and impact of evaluators in local communities and beyond in these times.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Promotion of underrepresented communities and voices through evaluation.  The pandemic and its outcomes have highlighted challenges faced by underrepresented populations and communities. Posts by Dominica McBride & Jennifer Lopiccollo and Christina Iyengar showcased community-centered methodologies and insights. Similarly, Carter & Farrell as well as Lopiccolo & McBride advanced the use of evaluation to support community capacity building for evaluation. For tips on principles and tools for advancing community experiences in healthcare, as well as other types of evaluation, check out this article.  
  1. Expansion of evaluative thinking and communication methods. Evaluators have found the need to communicate with diverse stakeholders throughout the evaluation process. This week’s post by Kohm focused on building communication skills in data visualization. Similarly, Carter & Farrell provided considerations for employing different research designs to showcase and communicate effective family programs. AEA’s Data Visualization, Program Design, and Program Theory TIGS offer comradery and resources for communication and program design tools.
  1. Networking and skill-building with other evaluators. The transition to virtual evaluations has increased opportunities for networking and building personal networks. Feldmann emphasized opportunities to build evaluation opportunities and professional networks via low-cost skill-building and networking events. Check out your AEA local affiliate and other AEA TIGS for opportunities to network with like-minded evaluators. 

What other suggestions do you have for extending your evaluation footprint in these times?

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from CEA 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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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