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ICCE TIG Week: Birth Story of Mongolian Evaluation Association (MEA) by Erdenechimeg (Chimgee) Ulziisuren

Photo of the author, Erdenechimeg (Chimgee) Ulziisuren

Greetings! I’m Erdenechimeg (Chimgee) Ulziisuren, Founder & President of Mongolian Evaluation Association (MEA). I am also a CEO & Founder of Cognos International LLC – Research and Evaluation Company. I would like to share with you the story of MEA’s birth

On September 7, 2021, I founded MEA with a vision to promote professionalization and institutionalization of evaluation at national level within Mongolia; to date, MEA has 120 members.

Until COVID-19 hit the world, international evaluators were the main players in the evaluation field in Mongolia, and Mongolians  served  mostly as  local partners helping with data collection. When  global travel restrictions were imposed, many evaluation biddings had to be performed by nationals. However, there were not enough qualified evaluators in place to meet the demand, and in our company’s case, I turned to Google simply typing ‘evaluation methods,’ and then discovered a wealth of resources including American Evaluation Association, Washington Evaluators, Better Evaluation and Michael Quinn Patton. I started transferring the resources and information I gained from websites and webinars to my colleagues to perform the evaluations we contracted. Learning about these evaluation organizations and experts who work collaboratively to support evaluators made me question why Mongolia did not have this system in place. In the summer of 2021, I was catching up with my former supervisor in UNFPA on the lack of a professional evaluation association when she commented “Why don’t you start one?” That was the turning point for me to take the step to found MEA.

From day one of MEA’s establishment, we were surrounded by the support of the international evaluation community, especially Washington Evaluator’s former President Dr. Esther Nolton, who was so instrumental for us when developing  our strategic plan and her support continues to date. In November 2022, at AEA’s Annual Conference, I had a great opportunity to meet in-person many former AEA presidents and three of them kindly agreed to speak at our Learning Sessions, namely Dr. Michael Quinn Patton in February, Dr. David Fetterman in March, and Dr. Donna Mertens in April. It is to me a living proof of how one lives up to a true legacy of their profession.

Another divine encounter at the AEA Conference was meeting with Dr. Beverly Peters who is a Program Director of MSc. Measurement & Evaluation of American University with which MEA signed a MoU. AU alumni and students have already been engaged to share their knowledge with our young and emerging evaluators (YEEs) on many events. All these witnesses convinced me of the importance of ‘walk the talk.’

In November 2022, MEA’s student evaluators competing in  the World Evaluation Case Competition became Asian Champions. This achievement inspired them so much to the extent that they are now taking the lead to organizing the first Mongolian Evaluation Case Competition in June. With this momentum of excitement, in December, 2022, as part of MEA Strategic Plan 2022-2026 to support YEEs, MEA supported to establish EvalYouth Mongolia Chapter and we launched together a 6-month ‘Young & Emerging Evaluators Internship’ in which 23 were selected from 170 applications.

All what we have achieved so far are made possible with the generous support and belief of the international evaluation community for MEA, in particular IOCE’s VOPE toolkit, which has been a guiding compass for our vision to institutionalize and professionalize evaluation in Mongolia.

Get Involved!

We would like to invite AEA members to contribute to MEA’s vision to professionalize and institutionalize evaluation by speaking at our Learning Sessions, contributing to our pro bono evaluations, capacity building training for MEA members and Summer Evaluation Bootcamps in Mongolia (email: erdenechimeg@mongolianevaluation.mn

The American Evaluation Association is hosting International and Cross-Cultural (ICCE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the International and Cross-Cultural Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our ICCE 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 AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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