CEA Affiliate Week: Swapping Speakers Builds Knowledge and Community: The Simple Magic of a Speakers’ Exchange by Asma M. Ali, Amelia Kohm and Matt Feldmann

We are Asma Ali and Amelia Kohm from Chicagoland Evaluation Association and Matt Feldmann from Evaluation Association of St. Louis [EASL].

We are here to talk about the benefits of a local speaker exchange and share how we made the most of it at a recent Chicago Grant Professionals Association [GPA] conference. The training, Advanced Evaluation Strategies for Grantmakers, was conducted for the Chicago GPA by participants in the Midwest Local Affiliate Speaker Exchange.

The Speaker Exchange, created by several Midwestern local affiliates, is fairly simple and requires few resources. Two affiliates agree to send speakers to each other’s organizations to conduct a 2-4-hour workshop or presentation. The Midwest Affiliate Speakers’ Exchange presentations have covered a range of topics including Evaluating Training Programs, Consulting Skills for Evaluators, and Culturally Responsive Evaluation. The sending affiliate provides their speaker for free, with the expectation that a presenter will come to their home affiliate (also for free). Often the receiving affiliate will offer to host the traveling speaker (usually at a member’s house), which provides opportunities for networking and limits travel costs.

The Chicago GPA group requested a session on evaluation at their annual meeting based on their prior interactions with speakers from the Chicago and St. Louis local affiliates. We were happy to develop a comprehensive session- including rigorous evaluation methods, evaluation readiness, and data visualization— for the group’s meeting. The session was well received and created opportunities to showcase our work as independent contractors and members of a broader evaluation community. Matt, Asma, and Washington Evaluators member Bernadette Wright are preparing to attend the National GPA conference in Washington D.C. in Fall 2019 to deliver a similar pre-conference workshop.

We thoroughly enjoyed our experience and look forward to upcoming opportunities to present on evaluation in our communities and nationally. The Midwest Local Affiliate Speaker Exchange has been a great way for us to creatively extend evaluation programming and community connections among evaluators and beyond.

Hot Tips:

  • Are you involved in a Local AEA Affiliate and looking for new speakers? Consider finding one through the speakers exchange by reaching out to one of us directly.


  • Do you want to share your evaluation expertise more broadly? Contact your local AEA affiliate about their professional development opportunities or contact them about building your own regional speaker exchange.

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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