LAWG Week: Anthony Heard on growing as an evaluator with your local affiliate

My name is Anthony Heard I’m a clinical social worker at the UI Hospital and Health Sciences System here in Chicago, and Secretary of the AEA’s local affiliate: the Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA). Today, I hope to encourage you to check out both your local affiliate and ours.

Though I co-chair a department QI Committee, evaluation is not my primary role. I have been passionate about learning evaluation practice, building capacity, and implementing evaluations in the programs I’ve worked in since I completed my graduate degree, and our local affiliate has been an integral part of my evaluation journey.

Lessons Learned: If your local affiliate resembles ours, it is likely to have a diverse membership: evaluators and evaluation boosters; students and degreed experts; internal and external evaluators; private consultants and organization-based evaluators. Members tend to come from many specific program areas such as public health, mental health, education, and more. Use this to your benefit.

If you’re new or not sure where to start, like I was, there are many perspectives on evaluation to learn from, and make your understanding as rich and as accurate of the full spectrum as possible.

If you’re a more seasoned evaluator, we each take similar lessons from our experience at gatherings. The knowledge and experience of other members can be useful when navigating common barriers to best evaluation practice: funding, (lack of) evaluation literacy, and identifying who your real stakeholders are.

Hot Tips:

Make contact: Affiliates can offer both networking and professional development, and will probably respond to the needs identified by members. Our affiliate is currently focused primarily on professional development, because that’s what our members wanted.

Become a member: Not only are you supporting an organization of evaluators like you, but just like the AEA proper, your local affiliate likely has like-minded professionals actively engaged who will take note that you’re engaged in the community as well, and you can possibly be on the short list when opportunities come up.

Get involved: Being a member is grand, but your local affiliate also provides the opportunity to show what you know and be a community leader. You can present your work, chair a committee, or run for office.

Rad Resource: Stay in tune with the Chicagoland evaluation community leading up to Evaluation 2015 by checking out our website at We’ll have information available on Chicago-area evaluators who are presenting at Evaluation 2015 and local events closer to the conference.

We’re looking forward to November and the Evaluation 2015 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to

1 thought on “LAWG Week: Anthony Heard on growing as an evaluator with your local affiliate”

  1. Thanks, Anthony, for the shout out to local affiliates! The Atlanta-area Evaluation Association is quite active these days, with a mix of professional development sessions and socials. We’ve just added a “walk and talk” format to our events, too. It’s a great way to meet some professional peers–and really neat people. We’re looking forward to hosting everyone at AEA in 2016 (after a great time in Chicago this fall)! Check us out at

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