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OPEG Affiliate Week: Rob Fischer on an Effective Board

I am Rob Fischer and I have just completed six years as board president of the Ohio affiliate of AEA, the Ohio Program Evaluators’ Group (OPEG). Founded in 1980, OPEG has a longstanding commitment to evaluation professionals in the state. Our annual paid membership fluctuates between 120-150.

In my total of eight years on the board I have learned much about how to keep an affiliate strong. As much as I would like to claim that top leadership is the driver behind an affiliate’s success, I know too well that this is only part of the story. It has been said that evaluation is a team sport, and so it is no surprise that the same is true of the work of AEA affiliates. A key task is maintaining a solid and active board and committee structure. I would like to offer three recommendations and three challenges to those working to keep their affiliate strong.

Hot tip:  Mix it up The volunteer board needs to reflect the diverse reality of evaluators working in the field and integrate the strengths of working in different settings.  It is wise to include individuals from the public sector, philanthropy, independent consultants, as well as academics. Having multiple sectors represented increases the likelihood that programs and services will stay relevant to a broad constituency and will also help with dissemination and recruitment. Practically speaking, individuals in these different positions have varying levels of flexibility and types of resources. Plus, we all know that having too many Ph.D.s involved means less will get done!

Hot tip:  Avoid burn-out Volunteer boards are great but we run the risk of exhausting individuals who end up with disproportionate amounts of work. In OPEG the VP position is also the Program Chair in charge of planning two annual state-wide conferences. It’s no surprise that few VPs have held on to become President! This is something our board is working on. Areas that can lend themselves to bringing on paid supports that relieve burden on volunteers are website, administrative services, and conducting mailings to members.

Hot tip: Be predictable What is poison in a relationship is nectar in a professional association. Members need to know that programs and events are regularly held so that, even if they haven’t seen the flyer yet, they know it is coming and can plan accordingly.

Challenges (if you have the solution please let me know!)

1)   Convincing professionals to join the association even if they do not plan on attending the conference.

2)    Balancing broad-scale accessibility of events with a need for regional/local events that are more frequent.

3)   Constantly recruiting new leadership

Hot Tip: Registration for OPEG’s interactive and experiential October 13th Fall Workshop, Embracing Change through Evaluation, is now open at www.OPEG.org.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating the Ohio Program Evaluators’ Group (OPEG) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the OPEG AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our OPEG members. 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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