Labor Day Week: Michael Quinn Patton on Honorees, Honorers, and a Labor Day Cautionary Tale

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

My name is Michael Quinn Patton of Utilization-Focused Evaluation and I have the honor of concluding this special series honoring living evaluation pioneers, a small, select sample chosen by those who took the initiative to identify someone they wanted to honor. Nominations were selected on a first come, first served basis in response to an AEA365 and EvalTalk invitation in July. All those nominated have been included in the posts over the last two weeks.

Recognizing and celebrating evaluation pioneers

In conjunction with Memorial Day in the USA (May), we celebrated the contributions of evaluation pioneers no longer with us, which gave rise to the idea that we should also recognize and celebrate those who are still with us. These posts have documented the great richness and diversity of our profession. Prominent themes portraying those honored include their deep commitment to evaluation, strong values about what matters and evaluation as a way to contribute to what matters, methodological pluralism, innovative thinking, and genuine respect for inclusion of multiple and diverse perspectives in evaluation. Those honored conduct evaluations, teach evaluation, publish, and actively engage with the profession at local, national, and international levels. But the most prominent theme characterizing the 13 living pioneers was their willingness to mentor, support novices, share their knowledge and expertise, and offer advice and counsel. They are accessible, available, approachable, open, and caring. In essence, they epitomize the personal factor, namely, that caring and committed individuals make all the difference.

Major Resources:

Not only are the living pioneers important resources to evaluation, but those who nominated them and authored these posts have demonstrated that they too are resources – and pioneers – as they pioneered this first-time effort to recognize and celebrate some of our esteemed colleagues. We thank those who took the initiative in this effort and brought to our attention the deep and diverse people who are the bedrock of our evaluation community. I learned about evaluators I didn’t know and learned more about some I did know.

Hot Tip:

Think about who has made a difference to your evaluation career and thank them. You don’t need the occasion of an AEA365 series, or an official Thanksgiving holiday, to express thanks. Acknowledge someone who has made a difference to you. In that spirit, let me take this opportunity to thank Sheila Robinson for her dedication and commitment in curating and editing AEA365. Sheila has made this AEA blog a tremendous resource for us all. Thank you, Sheila.

Reflective Lesson: Labor Day as a Cautionary Tale

Let me conclude this Labor Day series with some history and a look forward. In the late 19th century, leaders of the growing trade union and labor movements proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate workers. In 1887, Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day a public holiday. It became an official federal holiday in 1894. Canada’s Labour Day is also celebrated on the first Monday of September. In contrast, more than 80 countries celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1 (May Day).

While Labor Day continues to be celebrated, the labor union movement is in decline in the United States and globally. Working conditions have changed, the nature of employment contracts have changed, and labor unions have not adapted readily or effectively to global developments in capitalism.

The profession of evaluation is growing nationally and internationally, but will have to stay adaptive if it is to thrive as the world changes and new evaluation challenges emerge. We will need new evaluation pioneers leading the way in facing new challenges.

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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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