My name is Sophia Guevara and I am a recent graduate of Wayne State University. I am writing about my experience identifying and collaborating with other evaluation leaders and professionals to motivate them to take action around an important issue.
For the Chicago conference, I worked with the leadership of several Topical Interest Groups to develop a toiletry collection for a homeless women’s shelter. As this was the second year our TIG partnership asked AEA for permission to collect toiletries for the homeless, there were some important lessons learned from the project.
Lesson Learned 1: Build awareness to motivate others to take action. With the leadership of the Social Network Analysis, Nonprofit and Foundation, Social Work and Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health TIGs informing their members about the collection, many AEA members knew that we were collecting free travel-sized toiletries that were placed in attendees’ hotel rooms. With mentions in newsletters and posts on LinkedIn Groups, the collection netted a box of donations from generous American Evaluation Association conference attendees.
Lesson Learned 2: Sometimes you will find your best partners through recommendations from those you connect with. In the beginning, I emailed the leadership of larger Topical Interest Groups to gain the support I thought I needed to make the proposal successful in front of the American Evaluation Association. These contacts recommended I also contact the leadership of smaller Topical Interest Groups whose focus was closely aligned to those who were experiencing homelessness.
Lesson Learned 3: Seek expertise from those who may know an area better than you. The idea of collecting toiletries this year for Deborah’s Place came from a professional contact I know who works at a Chicago-based foundation that has supported several activities related to homelessness. Since I was not from Chicago, I reached out to this person who was able to use her expertise to recommend the organization.
Rad Resource 1: The American Evaluation Association Community provides an opportunity to identify the number of members enrolled in Topical Interest Group communities. By researching potential Topical Interest Groups to contact to gain their support, I initially focused on accessing larger TIGs first and then identified others by whether or not their topic of interest might be related to the issue of homelessness.
Rad Resource 2: The AEA Topical Interest Group List provides visitors with contact information for Topical Interest Group leadership and a direct link to each group’s website.
The Graduate Student & New Evaluator TIG is sponsoring this week’s AEA365, so be sure to check out the blogs this week! It’ll be worthwhile for new and seasoned evaluators alike!
AEA is celebrating GSNE Week with our colleagues in the Graduate Student and New Evaluators AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our GSNE TIG 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.