Oregon Evaluators Week: Be Inspired at the AEA Annual Conference by Eric Einspruch

Hi, I’m Eric Einspruch, an AEA member since 1991, one of the founders of the Oregon Program Evaluators Network  (OPEN), and a past President of OPEN. I am the Principal of ELE Consulting, LLC, which provides research and evaluation services that balance rigor and real-world constraints to generate meaningful and actionable results, and provides training and technical assistance to build evaluation capacity. I am also an Adjunct Professor who teaches a variety of classes, including a graduate-level program evaluation course.

Hot Tip: Be Inspired at the AEA Annual Conference

I have attended AEA’s annual conference many times, but missed several years before attending again last year. My experience returning to the AEA conference was, in a word, inspiring. Even though this year’s conference is virtual, I look forward to attending. The conference provides opportunities to:

View the future of evaluation as a professional field. Professional development includes considering the future of our field. Lately, I have been increasingly concerned about climate change (see, for example, World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency) and how evaluators can apply their skills in addressing this issue. At last year’s conference I was inspired by Michael Quinn Patton’s Blue Marble Evaluation and by Beverly Parson’s Visionary Evaluation

Meet and hear from the next generation of evaluation leaders. I appreciate the contributions of those who have provided leadership to our field during the nearly 35 years that I have worked as a researcher and program evaluator. I also appreciate the rising generation of evaluation leaders. At last year’s conference I was inspired by the work of EvalYouth, and by the young leaders who spoke at the conference.

Connect with colleagues from around the globe. Last year I was delighted to meet people from all over the world, and to have the opportunity to interact with international attendees who are native Mandarin Chinese speakers, a world language I am learning (I have commented elsewhere on the value of world language study). I was especially happy to meet an international visitor who helped me identify program evaluation books written in Chinese. While networking might look a bit different this year, I encourage you to reach out to old friends and to meet someone new. 

Hot Tip: Take breaks regularly

While the Evaluation 2020 conference is underway, I encourage you to routinely move around for a few minutes. Also, consider taking virtual breaks to experience of Portland from a distance. For example, there are a number of ways to experience some of our wonderful gardens online. Check out this virtual tour of the Chinese garden, this 3 minute virtual tour of the Rhododendron garden, or this one minute virtual tour of Washington Park.

This week, AEA365 is featuring posts from evaluators in Oregon. Since Evaluation 2020 was moved from Portland, OR to online, a generous group of Oregon evaluators got together to offer content on a variety of topics relevant to 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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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