Hi, I am Laura DeMaria and I am the Senior Manager of AEA’s Operations department.
When I joined the AEA staff in September 2017, I had two main priorities: one was to learn as much about our organization and staff as I could, and the other was to learn as much about evaluation as possible. Within just a few weeks, I had a great opportunity to do both in real time at Evaluation 2018, AEA’s annual meeting, and our most attended meeting to date.
What impressed me most about my fellow staff was their absolute professionalism and dedication to customer service. Successfully running a 4,000+ person meeting in the labyrinthine Marriott Wardman Park hotel is an incredible feat! And to do so with such grace and positivity was a delight to see. From my station in the Information Desk, I was amazed by how much the staff accomplished, from the behind the scenes detail to the very public movement of tables, auction items, livestreamed sessions, the lights and sound, and even, at one point, a drum circle. AEA members, you have a highly competent staff at your service.
This January a few of us joined the Board of Directors for our first meeting of the year in this year’s conference location, Cleveland, OH. First, let me say this about Cleveland: what a city! The feeling I got was one of coming home. Warm people (even in the cold weather), the beautiful line of the edge of the lake against the city, the urban architecture, and the passion of the residents for their home town made us all agree we are genuinely looking forward to returning this fall.
During the Board meeting, I was struck with how devoted to listening evaluators are. Discussion is always lively, and the Board, and the members I have met, truly are committed to their value of inclusivity. This is one of my favorite things about learning about evaluators and the profession of evaluation, that no matter what your perspective is, there is room for you at the table.
I look forward to meeting more of you in the coming months, and especially at Evaluation 2018 in Cleveland!
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