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American Evaluation Association (2019)

November 11-16, 2019

Minneapolis, MN

We were at the 2019 American Evaluation Association (AEA) conference in Minneapolis, MN. Check out our sessions and related resources.

CEI Presentations

  • November 13 12:00pm -3:00pm

    WORKSHOP: Building Capacity to Learn

    Presenters: Ben Liadsky, Andrew Taylor, Julia Coffman, Tanya Beer

    Foundations and nonprofits increasingly understand the need to adapt and respond to ever-changing conditions. That requires a commitment to ongoing learning, but too often the ingredients of learning are not well-understood or valued. Rather than a technical problem solved by having the right tool, the right template, or even the right data and findings, we think about learning as an ongoing way of relating, working, and thinking, a set of habits that are supported by a whole range of factors that shape a learning culture. This practical workshop builds skills in sensing and influencing the factors that enable learning both internally and between organizations.

    Related Resources

    Building Capacity to Learn: Slide Deck

    How to Ask Powerful Questions [Webinar]

    5-A-Day: Learning By Force of Habit

  • November 14 8:00am -9:00am

    Ties That Bind: A Values-Driven Approach to Evolving Evaluative Practice

    Presenters: Clare Nolan, Meg Long, Jara Dean-Coffey, Julia Coffman, Tanya Beer

    THINK TANK. Evaluators working with and within philanthropy are experiencing rapid changes such as the growing complexity of philanthropic investments and a greater focus on racial equity and community engagement. We are being challenged to develop new analytical frames and methods, along with new skills that go well beyond social science. But what values are we bringing to this evolution of evaluation practice? Using the Evaluation Roundtable, the Equitable Evaluation Initiative, and the Funder & Evaluator Affinity Network as case examples, this session explores the often implicit values different people bring to their work and invites us to be more explicit about the values that guide field advancements. 

    Related Resources

    Ties That Bind: A Values-Driven Approach to Evolving Evaluative Practice

  • November 14 10:30am -11:15am

    Testing Assumptions in Evaluation Capacity Building: Evidence to Inform Models and Enhance Practice

    Presenters: Albertina Lopez, Piper Taylor Grandjean Targos, Silvana McCormick. Discussant: Leslie Ann Fierro. Chair: Jennifer Pacheco Villalobos

    PANEL. This session presents findings from three empirical studies that sought to test and clarify central elements and relationships in guiding frameworks of Evaluation Capacity Building (ECB). It explores three critical ECB elements: motivation to engage, leadership, and learning and improvement outcomes. The panel brings empirical evidence to bear on long-accepted, but largely untested ECB assumptions, utilizes a broad literature base to interpret and contextualize the findings, and translates findings into recommendations for future research and concrete strategies to enhance ECB practice.

    Related Resources

    The Development and Field Testing of the ECB Leadership Theory of Change: Slide Deck

    How Leaders Affect Evaluation Capacity Building in Foundations

  • November 14 1:45pm -2:30pm

    Contributions to Policy Implementation Evaluation to Lead and Renew Practice

    Presenters: Albertina Lopez, Esther Nolton. Chair: Julia Coffman. Discussant: Sarah Stachowiak

    PANEL. Advocacy evaluation to date has focused much more on efforts to achieve policy wins than on what happens after the win. Policies may inadvertently create disparities during their implementation that may not be fully realized until an evaluation is conducted. Here, the Center for Evaluation Innovation (CEI) and Virginia Concussion Initiative (VCI) share their approaches on two health policy implementation evaluations. Each faced obstacles that resulted in different strategies to ensure evaluators ask the right questions and advocate for underserved and underrepresented groups.

    Related Resources

    Contributions to Policy Implementation Evaluation: Slide Deck

    Beyond The Win: Pathways for Policy Implementation

  • November 14 3:35pm -4:45pm

    Time for a Selfie: Evaluation Capacity Building for Funders

    Presenters: Marcela Gutierrez, Meredith Blair Pearlman, K Lori Hanson, William Bacon. Discussant: Julia Coffman

    PANEL. Evaluation officers at a national, state, and local foundation share the results of their respective paths to examine how evaluation results are used in their grantmaking. The national funder summarizes the findings of a study it commissioned of its monitoring, evaluation and learning practices; the state-level funder describes their use of internal workshops to build evaluative thinking skills among staff; and the local funder highlights how it embedded evaluation strategies to support a continuous learning framework in partnership with grantees. 

    Related Resources

    What Will it Take for Philanthropy to Learn?

  • November 15 8:00am -9:00am

    In the Spirit of Reciprocity and Respect: How Funder/Evaluator Relationships Grounded in Culturally Responsive Evaluation Make More Powerful Change Possible

    Presenters: Nicole Bowman, Ph.D., Valerie D. Shangreaux, Ph.D.. Discussant: Tanya Beer

    ROUNDTABLE. To support transformative change, evaluators and funders must move beyond a transactional, vendor/purchaser relationship to one of reciprocity, respect, shared responsibility, and joint leadership of intersectional, culturally responsive work. Using the example of a culturally responsive evaluation of a reservation-based community leadership program supported by the Blandin Foundation, this session explores how funders and evaluators can engage in transformational relationships together and with communities.

  • November 15 11:30am -12:15pm

    Across-the-Board Contradictions: Re-Aligning Foundation Trustees to Incentivize Learning

    Presenter: Tanya Beer

    EXPERT LECTURE. Boards play critical roles in shaping an organization's evaluation and learning culture. But despite philanthropy’s growing awareness that complex change requires continuous learning and adaptation, few foundations have explored how their board routines—how accountability is operationalized, how performance expectations are set and measured, how staff focus and prepare board materials and presentations—need to shift for complex work. Get insights about how to shift boards’ mental models, materials, and conversations to get higher-quality learning grounded in data.

    Related Resources

    Across-the-Board Contradictions: Slide Deck

    Realigning Foundation Trustees to Incentivize Learning

  • November 15 2:15pm -3:15pm

    Leaders’ Influence in Evaluation Capacity Building: A Framework and Strategies for Cultivating Leader Commitment and Action

    Presenters: Albertina Lopez, Matthew Carr, Yvonne Belanger. Discussant: Tanya Beer

    PANEL. Amid a growing commitment to results, foundations are adding evaluation staff, functions, and capacities. Existing frameworks for evaluation capacity building (ECB) highlight the critical role that internal leaders play in this process: they can bolster efforts, bring them to a halt, or even cause backsliding on evaluation capacity. This session shares a new framework for understanding ECB leadership, with concrete examples and strategies from evaluation directors at the Kauffman and Barr Foundations.

    Related Resources

    Leaders' Influence in Evaluation Capacity Building: Slide Deck

    ECB Leadership Framework: Handout

    How Leaders Affect Evaluation Capacity Building in Foundations

  • November 15 4:30pm -5:30pm

    Shedding Light on 501(c)(4) strategies: Evaluating the Role and Influence of 501(c)(4) Organizations

    Presenters: Kat Athanasiades, Gigi Barsoum, Johanna Morariu. Discussant: Jared Raynor

    PANEL. Nonprofits in the US—those with an IRS 501(c)(3) designation—can use many advocacy tactics, but they cannot do certain forms of lobbying and electoral work. 501(c)(4) organizations do not have these same restrictions. Foundations are taking notice, and starting to ask about their contribution when dollars are directed towards a 501(c)(4) effort in coordination with, or instead of, a 501(c)(3) strategy. Publicly available evaluations of 501(c)(4) efforts are hard to come by. This session begins to pull back the curtain on what evaluating 501(c)(4) efforts looks like in practice.

    Related Resources

    Shedding Light on 501(c)(4) strategies: Slide Deck

    It’s Time to Evaluate 501(c)(4) Activities

  • November 16 8:00am -9:00am

    How Can Internal Advocacy Evaluators Effectively Integrate Learning and Accountability? Shifting the Culture in Advocacy Organizations.

    Presenters: Julia Coffman, Emily Boer Drake, Zehra Mirza, Andrew Wells-Dang

    PANEL: The current political context has set the stage for increased advocacy and has raised the importance of participating in civil discourse. As advocacy organizations elevate their public presence, they need to understand their effectiveness while also adapting to a rapidly shifting context. This session offers ideas for integrating measurement and learning into advocacy processes from an internal evaluator’s point of view. It delves into frameworks, methodologies, and pragmatic strategies that can help reflection and learning to stick.