Local Affiliate Groups Aren’t Just for Locals by Jennifer Borland

Greetings, AEA365 readers! Liz DiLuzio here, Lead Curator of the blog. Registration for this year’s conference is officially open, and our local hosts at the Indiana Evaluation Association (IEA) are working with the AEA team to ensure our time in lovely Indianapolis is a fulfilling one. This week’s posts feature the voices of IEA’s members. Happy reading!

Hi, I’m Jennifer Borland. As the president of the Indiana Evaluation Association (IEA) I’m excited to kick off a week of posts from our members. We know Indiana is likely on the minds of AEA365 blog readers since many will be coming to our state for the AEA Evaluation Conference this year. And while the conference is sure to be amazing, I’m eager to let readers about the great work that IEA does year-round to offer evaluation-related information and resources to members–both in and outside of Indiana.

One might think that the Indiana Evaluation Association would be limited to those residing in Indiana, but we have members from nearly a dozen different locations outside our state–ranging from Alaska to DC! But why, you might ask, would anyone from another state want to be a part of a local affiliate group that’s outside of the place they reside? This post sets out to answer that question and encourages readers to look at all the great local affiliate membership opportunities that can be a great compliment to AEA membership.

Before takeoff, flight attendants remind airplane passengers to look around; the nearest exit may be behind them. I too invite readers to consider looking around, because there may be great affiliate group membership opportunities both in and outside of your state or country. The following are several reasons to join an affiliate group in general–as well as reasons to consider joining a group outside of where you live.

Affiliates offer amazing professional development opportunities and the combined offerings of all local affiliate groups result in frequent opportunities to learn and engage with other evaluation professionals. Over the past three years–initially in response to the pandemic, but ultimately as a means to better serve members throughout Indiana–IEA began incorporating more online professional development opportunities. In addition to better serving members in all parts of our state we found that our efforts were ultimately of value to evaluators all over the world. 

We also have members who work in Indiana but may not live in Indiana. Our group provides value to them because we keep our fingers on the pulse of statewide news and professional opportunities–including jobs and RFPs–that we are able to share with our members. So there can be great value in networking with evaluators in states where you work (or want to work), in addition to those located where you live. 

Another reason to be a part of a local affiliate group outside of where you live is to make connections and/or stay connected to long-time colleagues. We have members from areas without local affiliate groups looking for networking opportunities as well as a handful of members who are no longer working as evaluators but want to stay connected with their evaluator friends. As such, membership in a local affiliate group is a great way to make connections and stay connected with future, current, and past colleagues. 

It also helps to have a pack! Joining a local affiliate group is a little like adopting an extended family. Whether it’s in your day-to-day work as an evaluator or as you prepare for special events like the annual Evaluation Conference, local affiliate membership provides a group of professionals that you can lean on, learn from, and connect with. As you get ready to attend this year’s Evaluation Conference, membership in a local affiliate group could be just the thing to help take your conference experience to the next level by ensuring you’ll have a smaller group of people that you can connect with. So what are you waiting for? Go find a local affiliate group that’s the right fit for you!

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We’re looking forward to the Evaluation 2023 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 AEA365@eval.org. 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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