September 30, 2022 Courtney Carr No Comments

EnCompass Looks Forward to the American Evaluation Association Conference

Written by: Courtney Carr, Communications Specialist

From November 7 to 12, 2022, a team from EnCompass will join monitoring and evaluation professionals from around the world at the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Evaluation 2022 conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. This year’s conference theme is “(Re) Shaping Evaluation Together,” and we look forward to connecting with colleagues and exploring how the following topics are influencing our field:

  • Equity, social justice, and decolonization in evaluation
  • New actors and social finance in evaluation
  • Digital data and technology in evaluation.

As in prior years, we are thrilled to have many EnCompass staff leading sessions and participating in the conference. In addition to workshops and conference presentations, our team will have a table at the Exhibitor Hall to share more information on our work, our open positions, and professional development learning opportunities available to all. We will be raffling off some exciting prizes, so do stop by and introduce yourself to our talent acquisition and evaluation teams. We will also continue our longstanding tradition of contributing to the AEA Silent Auction, so come out and bid for one of our ELC vouchers and help the AEA provide support for first-time AEA conference attendees from developing countries.

Follow us at @EnCompass_World and the conference hashtag, #Eval22, for live updates!

Below is a list of our AEA sessions and workshops:

Letting the Data Speak: Inclusively Integrating and Synthesizing Data to Tell the Story
Featuring: Ghazia Aslam, Senior MEL Advisor and Jonathan Jones, Director, MEL
Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 8:00 a.m.–10:45 a.m. CST

How many times does your team analyze data during report writing? How often do you rewrite report sections for lack of agreement across findings or concerns of bias or lack of inclusiveness? Bringing an evidence-based narrative together through inclusive and rigorous data analysis, integration, and synthesis (DAIS) across all data sources is critical to effective evaluation and useful findings and recommendations for stakeholders. This workshop explores roles, personal biases, and voice during analysis, synthesis, interpretation and reporting. Experience participatory strategies to ensure diverse team voices support evidence-based findings across data sources aligned to evaluation questions. We share strategies to allow all team members to see how data fit into a cohesive narrative while simultaneously identifying data gaps and biases requiring additional research or explanation. Participants experience how DAIS processes produce highly traceable, contextualized, and supportable evidence-based findings and user-appropriate recommendations, with a confident team standing behind the story the data tell.

Harnessing Dynamic Theories of Change to Drive Learning and Achieve Impact
Featuring: Michael Moses, MEL Advisor and Amanda Stek, Associate Director, MEL
Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 11:30 a.m.–2:15 p.m. CST

The social sector has reached an inflection point. Challenging long-held assumptions about power, who holds it, and how they wield it is more important than ever before. Dynamic theories of change—an updated take on a familiar tool—when combined with evaluative thinking and collaborative approaches, can help changemakers more effectively achieve impact. In this interactive workshop attendees, confronted by a practice scenario, will practice developing adaptive theories of change. They will be guided through an exercise in which they use learning tools, such as learning logs, after-action reviews, and others, to practice reflecting on emerging data, and leverage evaluative thinking to adjust their theories of change in light of new information. By the end of the workshop, participants will have developed, tested, and iterated on their theories of change, getting ever-clearer about goals, definitions, boundaries, perspectives, and meaning as they do so.

(Re)Shaping Evaluation through Trauma-Informed Data Collection Efforts
Featuring: Sofia Machado, MEL Associate and Ghazia Aslam, Senior MEL Advisor
Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m. CST

In 2022, understanding trauma is more important than ever, as communities worldwide grapple with challenges ranging from environmental degradation, to coping with COVID-19 health and economic fallout, to living under closing civic spaces controlled by autocratic regimes. Evaluators implementing monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) activities in different contexts across various issues will likely encounter individuals and groups touched by suffering or distress. In this scenario, the do no harm principle has an elevated importance, as some of the most common forms of data collection, and types of information gathered, could potentially jeopardize the safety and well-being of participants. In light of these challenges, presentation will establish an understanding of trauma and the risks associated when planning and implementing data collection activities, with a deep dive into examples of trauma-informed evaluation activities that foster a safe and comfortable experience for participants and improve the equity and inclusion of vulnerable groups.

The Future of Evaluator Professionalization: Advancing AEA together Featuring: Beeta Tahmassebi
Thursday, November 10, 2022, 2:15 p.m.-3:15 p.m. CST

AEA’s Board approved a set of evaluator competencies in 2018. But how do we know these competencies contribute to our professionalization both as individuals and as a community responding to the present and future? AEA continues its commitment to professionalization by implementing the new Professionalization & Competencies Working Group. P&CWG is bringing members and other stakeholders together to collaboratively define AEA’s vision of “professionalization” and focus on ways to implement this vision into AEA initiatives. Following a brief overview of current task force activities, this Think Tank’s goal is to engage evaluators in shaping AEA’s next steps regarding: 1) identifying ways to use, evaluate and refine these competencies across our diverse membership; 2) exploring ways to advocate; 3) expanding research and evaluation about professionalization and competencies; 4) identifying questions and risks in our next steps; and 5) learning how AEA members want to be involved in this effort.

Ethics for Evaluation: Can We Go Beyond Doing No Harm to Tackle Bad and Do Good?
Featuring: Tessie Catsambas
Thursday, November 10, 2022, 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. CST

All evaluation competency models call for ethical practice; the first competency in the AEA’s 2018 competencies begins with “Act ethically…”and the third competency area of EES asks evaluators to “uphold ethical standards.” The recently published book Ethics for Evaluation, edited by Rob van den Berg, Penny Hawkins, and Nicoletta Stame, offers a range of perspectives on how ethics considerations in evaluation are central to ensuring evaluation is an agent of positive change. Evaluators are already familiar with the need to do no harm, but through further consideration of ethics, evaluation can play a stronger role as a force for good against seemingly intractable problems related to equity, social justice, and decolonization.

This panel will present a framework for considering ethics in evaluation and explore perspectives on what ethical evaluation means in practice, discussing the role of evaluators, evaluation commissioners, and how evaluation can create more value and have a positive impact.

Evaluating Amid a Global Democratic Recession
Featuring: Cecilia Banks Papariello, Senior MEL Specialist and Karen Chen (EnCompass consultant)
Friday, November 11, 2022, 8:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m. CST

The DRG community has experienced a global trend against democratic norms, an erosion of democratic institutions, the spread of misinformation, and mounting threats to democratic actors. Malign actors have become better at their malice and the voices for the underserved and disenfranchised are being silenced. This phenomenon has many names: democratic reverse wave, emergent populism, rising authoritarianism, autocratization, and a democratic recession. Nevertheless, the way DRG practitioners implement and evaluate foreign assistance in this context has transformed. It is incumbent on evaluators to present quality evaluative data to these practitioners so they can better adapt to this new environment. In the first of a two-part panel series on this issue, DRL will facilitate a discussion among evaluators, implementers, and funders who have reshaped their evaluative activities to ensure their work persevered while maintaining do no harm principles and much-needed analysis and recommendations to practitioners and decision makers.

Involving Stakeholders in Evaluation: Alternative Views
Social justice, Equity and Decolonization: Shaping the Evaluation Capacity Building Featuring Ghazia Aslam
Friday, November 11, 2022, 2 p.m.-3 p.m. CST

In this paper, we reflect on the changes we need to implement for various aspects of evaluation capacity building to prepare the evaluation profession to more holistically integrate social justice and equity lens in all our work and make sure that development is truly locally-led. We discuss how integrating the social justice, equity and decolonization lens should affect whose evaluation capacity we should build, on what topics and how. We discuss the necessary competencies to bring an in-depth understanding of systematic oppression to our work. The presenter shares experiences from her organization and reflects on the challenges and opportunities in integrating social justice, equity and decolonization lens in evaluation capacity building. She also highlights other trends in the evaluation profession, such as the growth of professional evaluation networks, the development of evaluation competency frameworks internationally, and a CLA focus that we can leverage.

(Re) shaping evaluation: Reflections of Past AEA Presidents
Saturday, November 12, 2022, 9:15 a.m.-10:15 a.m. CST

This year’s conference urges us to reflect on the changing evaluation landscape. A panel of past AEA presidents will share brief reflections on their presidential theme, how their thinking has shifted over time and ways the evaluation field is evolving. Themes to be highlighted include the role of digital data in evaluation, new actors and implications for the evaluation field, social justice and racial equity in evaluation, the importance of locally led evaluation and the critical role of feedback.

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In addition, we hope you will check out the AEA sessions with our ELC faculty.

Courtney Carr

Written by

Communications Specialist

Courtney Carr is EnCompass’ Communications Specialist, supporting the internal and external messaging and communications initiatives. She brings her knowledge and skills in writing, social media, video production, event planning and television news and radio production to the position. Before joining EnCompass, Ms. Carr worked at Community Science as a business development coordinator. She received her BA in Broadcast Journalism at Pennsylvania State University and holds a MA in Strategic Communication from American University.

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