Labor Day Week: Honoring and appreciating those who have labored on behalf of the evaluation profession by Michael Quinn Patton

My name is Michael Quinn Patton, a former AEA President. In conjunction with the Labor Day holiday, Nora Murphy Johnson and I are curating a week of AEA365 contributions featuring some of those who have labored conscientiously and with distinction on behalf of the evaluation profession. As context, let’s look at the origins of Labor Day and then the AEA Robert Ingle Service Award presented annually to an AEA member who has provided exceptional service to the organization and been instrumental in promoting its interests and operations.

Labor Day

Labor Day emerged from the labor movement in the 1880’s as part of a campaign for better working conditions. Then the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks, often without breaks, in unsafe working conditions, including polluted air and unsanitary facilities. Children as young 6 worked in some factories and mines. Labor unions formed to protest poor conditions, low pay, and inhumane treatment. Violence sometimes ensued, notably the Haymarket Riot of 1886 in which both Chicago policemen and workers were killed. On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers marched for better working conditions in what became the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

Whether and when a holiday celebrating workers should be designated was contentious. May 1 had become known as International Workers’ Day, but President Grover Cleveland was concerned that it was too closely associated with socialist and anarchist movements who celebrated that date worldwide. In 1887 he supported the September Labor Day holiday which became a federal holiday in 1894. Canada’s Labor Day is also the first Monday of September, but more than 80 countries celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1. Context matters.

Recent AEA365 posts focused on how the meanings of words can change over time. So, evaluators, do you think of yourselves as laborers? Workers? Is your collar category blue, white, sweat-stained, frayed, lost, and/or in the laundry? An invitation for laborious reflexivity on September 2.

The Robert Ingle Award

When the Evaluation Network joined with the Evaluation Research Society to become the American Evaluation Association in 1986, Robert Ingle became one of its founding members. For AEA’s first ten years, he served as the Annual Conference Chair, sat on the AEA Board and became a relentless advocate for member services. In recognition of his contributions to the organization, AEA established the Robert Ingle Service Award, presented annually to a member who has provided exceptional service to the organization and been instrumental in promoting its interests and operations.

The first Ingle Award went to Nancy Kingsbury in 1987, the first treasurer of AEA. For several years, as a volunteer, Nancy spent her Saturday mornings dealing with AEA finances and processing memberships, keeping records up to date, and handling communications with members. She laid the foundation for our current professionally managed association.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Labor Day Week in Evaluation: Honoring and appreciating those who have labored on behalf of the evaluation profession. The contributions this week are tributes to evaluators who have labored conscientiously and with distinction on behalf of the evaluation profession. 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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