Practical Evaluation Tips in a Time of Crisis

Hi everyone- Today I am joined by Jenn Ballentine of Highland Nonprofit Consulting to talk about, what else, evaluation in the time of Covid-19. Granted, my last blog was a bit of a rant, so today, I would like to strike a  more positive and helpful tone.   To tell you the truth, some of the conversation around data collection during the pandemic has me a little squirmy because it has felt kind of opportunistic. I don’t think rushing out to survey people when they are really worried and anxious feels helpful, or frankly ethical. But we are evaluators, so we do believe evaluation is important and we just can’t stop doing what we do. I am a community psychologist and Jenn, a public health professional. We believe in a public health approach to prevention and in … [Read more...]

There are words I really hate right now

There are words I really hate right now. First is the C-word. Along with that nasty little picture of the virus. I also hate the p-word, the s-  d- word, and the term F-T-C. I hate the term “living in the time of uncertainty.” I hate them so much I don’t even want to spell them out.  What I really hate, though, is when people talk about “returning to normal.” My email and social media feeds are inundated with things I need to know about, funding sources, business opportunities, how things will be different and dire warnings that I better get ready.  There are also several articles on how to make money during the crisis.  The last thing I want to think about right now is what I should be doing businesswise.  What do I think … [Read more...]

A Failure to Plan….You Know the Rest of the Story

A failure to plan…… “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, writer and pioneering aviator Two things people who know me will tell you is that I love to cook and I love to travel. I am purposefully working through my bucket list and it is very long list! For a long time, Alaska has been one of the places I most wanted to see. So, this past summer, I finally made it happen. My family and I spent two weeks driving the interior of Alaska. The trip involved 23 hours of driving, two small plane flights, 3 national parks, a ferry ride, and a hike on a glacier. I planned this trip for about 8 months. I read about the “Last Frontier,” I spoke with friends who had made the trip, followed bloggers and spent hours researching on the internet. We had an amazing … [Read more...]

AEA 365 Blog: Mentor Me

Hello fellow evaluators! My name is Ann Price and I am President of Community Evaluation Solutions (CES), based in Georgia. This year’s conference theme, Paths to the Future of Evaluation: Contribution, Leadership, Renewal resonates with me. I am often called upon to speak with evaluation classes and frequently meet with evaluators considering consulting as a profession. CES is a small business and I have come to depend on young evaluators to meet the demands of our work. For the past four years, we have employed a full-time research associate. We employ an intern or practicum student (yes, I pay them!), typically in the summer or fall. It’s a win – win really. I truly enjoy mentoring early career evaluators and community psychologists. My early career employees get training and a … [Read more...]

Saying Goodbye is not easy: Emily’s Reflections on her time at CES

Baby’s First Job If you have met me or read my last blog post, you know that I consider myself an introvert (Go Team ISTJ!). My introversion let me stew in my comfort zone for a few years before I decided to branch out and get a little uncomfortable. While working at CES isn’t my first full-time, post-grad job, I will always remember this company as the first step out of my comfort zone, and consequently, the place where I flourished. If you didn’t already know, I am leaving CES in May to pursue a Doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of North Georgia. As I reflect on the time I’ve spent working with Ann and Sally, I wanted to highlight a few quotes that define the last couple of years of my life. I worked in the same place during undergraduate and graduate school, then … [Read more...]

Winter Doldrums and the New Year

Not sure what the weather is like where you are, but here in Georgia, its raining. AGAIN! I think it has been raining for 6 weeks straight. We are on track to have the second rainiest season Georgia has ever had so I may not be exaggerating all that much. Many years ago, my husband and I visited on of my sisters in Oregon. It was a rare week there; it was sunny and mild and oh-so green. Dan was just about to pack up and head to out west when my sister said, “Dan, there is a reason it is so green.” That is so true right? We cannot have green grass and healthy crops without rain and everyone knows that Oregon gets a lot of it. Last year at this time I wrote about Seasons. So much in my personal life was changing. I had big decisions to make about the business too. No doubt, the same … [Read more...]

The Top 5 Things That Determine the Success of a Community Coalition

#1. Leadership In the many years that I have been working with community coalitions and collaboratives, choosing the right leader maybe the cornerstone that determines a coalition’s success. An effective coalition leader requires a combination of charisma, attention to detail, and someone who is a savvy politician. It takes charisma to attract and keep the community members needed to do the work. Because the coalition is likely funded by a cobbling of state and federal grants, all with their own rules and regulations, the coalition leader needs to be a detailed administrator. It takes a lot of work in order to meet all of the varied grant requirements and financial obligations. Finally, managing community stakeholders, all of whom have varied opinions, motivations and perhaps agendas, … [Read more...]

AEA Summer Institute Takeaways

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Summer Evaluation Institute hosted by AEA. I met some great people and learned a lot about evaluation. I’m what my family likes to call a “professional student” – I would be in school for the rest of my life if I could. I took pages and pages of notes, organized the resources I was given, and came up with this list of the lessons I learned while there. 1. Evaluation isn’t just for evaluators. Going into the institute, I was so nervous. With just under a year of professional evaluation experience under my belt, I was sure I would be behind in some of the workshops. That definitely wasn’t the case. Now, I’m not claiming to be an evaluation master, but there were fewer evaluators attending than I anticipated. Project developers and … [Read more...]

The AEA Summer Institute: A First-Timer’s Impression

The AEA Summer Institute: A First-Timer's Impression Daniel Snook is currently working at Community Evaluation Solutions doing a practicum in program evaluation. My first trip to the American Evaluation Association’s (AEA) summer institute was eye-opening. I was aware of evaluation as a practice and as a useful tool for program development and improvement before I arrived, but I was not aware of the full breadth of Evaluation with a capital ‘E’ (i.e., evaluation as a field). Suffice to say, I now know just how much I don’t know about the incredibly multi-faceted field of evaluation. My background is in psychology, specifically I’m a PhD student studying Community Psychology at Georgia State University. At the beginning of the conference I was feeling a bit like an incognito … [Read more...]

How to Kill Your Community Coalitions and Collaboratives

How to Kill Your Community Coalitions and Collaboratives: Meet and Talk Meetings Because CES works with a lot of community collaboratives and coalitions, I attend a lot of community meetings. So, I see the good, the bad, and just plain ineffective. What I have observed is that there are some sure-fire things you should NOT do if you want to fire up your community for change. (Note: for the purpose of this blog, I use the terms coalitions and collaboratives interchangeably). Meet and Talk meetings are probably the most common meeting killer that I see. In this type of meeting, attendees go around the room and share updates of their organizations, one after another. There is no work done, no direction, and participants don’t really connect in any meaningful way. What participants … [Read more...]