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Labor Day Week: Leah C. Neubauer on Honoring Tom Chapel

This is part of a two-week series honoring our living evaluation pioneers in conjunction with Labor Day in the USA (September 5).

I am Leah C. Neubauer, an Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University. I am past-President of the Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA) and serve with Allison Titcomb as co-chair of AEA’s Local Affiliate Collaborative (LAC). This post honors evaluation pioneer Thomas (Tom) J. Chapel, Chief Evaluation Officer at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Why I chose to honor this evaluator:

Tom’s pioneering efforts span multiple AEA focal areas, scholarship arenas, AEA Board duties and awards. This post highlights his unique and significant contributions to AEA’s Local Affiliates.

Contributions to Our Field:

Tom’s efforts brought the seasoned, brand-new, and applicant-status Affiliates together. AEA has 31 Affiliates; several have existed for over thirty years (EERS, WE) . Affiliates support their communities through informal, non-formal, and formal education functions. In June of 2004, Tom’s affiliate, the Atlanta-area Evaluation Association, organized a national AEA Affiliate meeting, the first gathering of AEA affiliates. Thanks to W.K. Kellogg Foundation funding, 35 participants (Affiliate reps + AEA Staff) discussed opportunities for cross-Affiliate collaboration, joint projects, and affiliate-AEA relationships. Tom planned the logistics, organized the meeting, and served as lead facilitator. This seminal meeting is the source of most of today’s affiliate work. Workgroups were developed at the meeting, which evolved into the AEA Local Affiliate Collaborative (LAC) and Steering Committee, which were elaborated at the November 2004 Annual Meeting held in Atlanta, Georgia.

12 years later, the LAC continues to support, sustain, and strengthen local AEA affiliates by fostering joint and coordinating action among and between Affiliates and the AEA to: 1. share information and resources, 2. promote professional development and leadership, and 3. mentor and coach affiliates. Since 2004, LAC members have met via monthly conference calls (n=141) and at the annual AEA Meeting (n=12) to share information and discuss issues. Steering Committee members have produced 13 publicly available tool kits/tip sheets. (Estimated) daily virtual and live LAC-responsive communications have occurred among members across the country (n=48,000+).

Tom’s leadership has shaped the LAC and local Affiliate lifelong learning environments. Several Affiliates and evaluators (like me!) exist because of the mentorship and connections he provided to start, nurture, or re-boot an Affiliate. It’s common “Tom practice” to receive a weekly email highlighting new Affiliate interest or an Affiliate seeking a template for governance structure or conference planning. Tom’s scholarly interests in evaluation practice are evidenced by his meticulous commitments to the growth of evaluator Affiliate spaces.

Thank you Tom for your leadership and collaboration with the founding LAC Steering Committee members. This vision and teamwork provide an enduring Affiliate territory where leaders nurture the localized spaces where evaluators come together to network, dialogue about practice, participate in professional development, and ultimately, nurture and expand the profession.

Resources: 2013 winner of AEA’s Myrdal Government Evaluation Award.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Labor Day Week in Evaluation: Honoring Evaluation’s Living Pioneers. The contributions this week are tributes to our living evaluation pioneers who have made important contributions to our field and even positive impacts on our careers as evaluators. 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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