Fall means it’s time for the annual meeting of the American Evaluation Association, or what I like to refer to as the evaluation family reunion. The event provides time for networking, learning, and reflecting so it is timely that this year the conference theme was “From Learning to Action.” The top three reasons I continue to attend the conference each year are the community, attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and authenticity.
Whether you identify as a designer or a non-designer, I think we can all agree that we are living in an era where short and easily digestible materials are preferable to dense reports. We have recently seen renewed interest in the field of data visualization, with formats such as infographics and one-pagers in high demand. At the same time, many organizations have limited funding and training opportunities available to purchase and learn design programs. Fortunately, there are a number of free and low-cost tools available online with equally low learning curves, allowing both designers and non-designers to create polished products.
One of the questions asked leading up to and following the Women's March on Washington is, why march? The Women's March was not a single issue event. It was about advocating for human rights, standing in solidarity, and fostering community. So as a social worker for social justice and an evaluator for equality, I ask, why not?
I spend a lot of time thinking about how to best meet the needs of my clients. One of the ways to do this is by keeping up with innovations in evaluation and other related fields. So naturally one of the questions I had been asking myself during the past year leading up to the 2016 American Evaluation Association Conference (#Eval16) was, “what are the current trends in evaluation?” Here are some themes that I’m hearing in my own work and those that I heard at Eval16: 1) Design, 2) Databases, 3) Evaluation Capacity Building, 4) Cultural Responsiveness, 5) Communication.
Twenty-four hours ago, like many of you, I cast my vote in a historic election, knowing that whatever the outcome, we would be entering a new phase for our country. Well the people have spoken, the data is in, and, America, we have a problem. So what's next and how can thinking like an evaluator help move the nation forward?