Over five thousand evaluators from around the world gathered from November 6th to November 11th in Washington, DC for Evaluation 2017, the annual conference of the American Evaluation Association (AEA). The theme of the conference, “From Learning to Action,” focused on improving the field of evaluation to have a more significant impact on the communities in which they are doing work. Dr. Gregory Phillips II, Emma Reidy, and Peter Lindeman from the Evaluation, Data Integration, and Technical Assistance (EDIT) Program may have only made up a small fraction of the attendees, but the visibility EDIT gained throughout their participation in the conference proceedings was much more prominent.
In the opening plenary of the conference titled “From Learning to Action: Employing Evaluation to Advance the Public Good,” AEA President Dr. Kathy Newcomer addressed a packed auditorium. While the majority of her talk focused on what she believed were challenges in today’s social climate and how evaluators can face them to better serve organizations vested in promoting educational, health, and economic equity, she also took time to recognize leaders in the evaluation field already tackling these issues. During this portion, Dr. Newcomer highlighted the importance of using evaluation to address disparities faced by sexual and gender minority individuals, pointing to the work of Dr. Phillips and the EDIT Program as an exemplar.
Energized from this recognition on the largest stage the field of evaluation has to offer, the EDIT team spent the rest of the week making connections and presenting findings from their projects. They presented three posters on the work currently being done by the Evaluation Center and Evaluation Center Extension projects. On the last full day of the conference, Peter Lindeman gave a lecture on the complexity of dealing with multisite evaluation data to over forty individuals, including Dr. Newcomer. The EDIT team will seek to use the feedback from attendees of the talk and poster session as they prepare to disseminate findings from both projects widely. Similarly, EDIT will attempt to leverage the new connections made at this conference to build lasting partnerships that will help expand their evaluation portfolio to projects that serve sexual and gender minority individuals outside of Chicago.
You can learn more about EDIT activities by following @EDITatNU on Twitter