AEA Summer Institute Takeaways

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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 … [Read more...]

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

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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

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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...]

A Heart Full of Grace By Emily French

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A Heart Full of Grace By Emily French A Heart Full of Grace By Emily French With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day coming up, I thought we could talk a little bit about social change and “making a difference.” What does that even mean, you might be thinking to yourself. I’m not sure that’s an answerable question – I think making a difference looks different for everyone. I went to Mercer University for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, worked as a graduate assistant, then became a full-time employee of the school. If you’re familiar with Mercer, you know that one of the most common university mottos is “At Mercer, everyone majors in changing the world.” I spent a lot of my academic career wondering how I could make a difference. Should I apply for medical … [Read more...]

Seasons

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Seasons So, how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Yep, me too. Along with dropping those pesky pounds, I was going to blog faithfully and make sure our newsletter got out. Well that hasn’t happened! Sometimes, life happens and you just get busy. I think this is especially true when you own your own business. I am Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Marketing Director, Principal Investigator, Data Analyst, Head Janitor......you get the idea. We welcomed, little Ellie, our first grandbaby in March. Our youngest son, Zach, graduated from high school in May and Dan and I said good-bye to high school marching band activities after 11 years with all three sons. We just got Zach settled at FSU where he is a trumpet performance major and made the Marching … [Read more...]

6 Things I Tell Every Student

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  As someone who has been working in communities for a while now, I get asked to speak to students a lot. I also get lots of requests for informational interviews. In the last year, I have spoken to 3 different classes of program evaluation students around the country; presented on 2 student interest panels; and have had many, many individual conversations with students. I always tell students the same six things: 1) The money is at the professional level of your degree. For psychology, that means a PhD; for a social worker, the professional level is an MSW; and for a public health professional, the professional level is usually an MPH. I recognize that money isn’t everything. My own parents did not want me to major in psychology. If you are reading this, like me, social … [Read more...]

The Application of the Community Psychology Practice Competencies for Community Consulting Practice in the U.S

Abstract This article describes many of the competencies used for consulting with communities in the United States. It includes a description of each competency, how each is used, and tips for developing them. The article begins with a definition of community psychology consulting and how it is different from business or other forms of consulting. The different levels of competence and the interdisciplinary nature of the competencies needed for working in communities are discussed. The article maintains that all community psychology consultants need expertise in foundational competencies such as sociocultural and cross- cultural competence and commitment to improving public welfare and social and racial justice. The extent to which community psychology consultants need expertise in … [Read more...]

Love what you do?

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Sunday, Sheila Robinson, AEA blog coordinator extraordinaire published her weekly blog in honor of Valentine’s Day about evaluators who LOVE evaluation. Although I didn’t make her list, I LOVE evaluation too and here are five reasons why: 1. I love being out in small communities with community members who are working to make their communities better. It's messy and confusing and sometimes chaotic. I love to help them navigate the confusion, look at their local data and find a way forward that suits them. 2. I love that there is something new to do every day. Nothing ever goes as planned (as hard as we work on evaluation plans) and I kind of love that too. 3. I love when community leaders see us as partners in evaluation rather than outsiders doing evaluation “to them.” 4. I … [Read more...]

Thoughts on my first AEA –CES’s Emily Ayers

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Last month, I attended the American Evaluation Association (AEA) conference in Atlanta, GA. This was my first opportunity to attend this annual conference. Conferences like these can be both exhilarating and overwhelming, as you try your hardest to pack as many sessions into your day as possible. This year’s conference theme was Evaluation + Design, a theme chosen by current AEA president, John Gargani. This got me thinking about the way design is incorporated into our everyday lives when working in evaluation. We design every day; we design evaluations, we design our reports, our data visualizations, data collection measures, etc. Design is something that is present in your everyday life whether or not you realize, and no matter what field you may work in. Over the course of the … [Read more...]

September is National Recovery Month

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  I have not always worked in evaluation. I have not always focused much of my work on substance abuse prevention. I started out like a lot of young psychology majors; I wanted to be a clinical psychologist so I could ‘help people.’ How I ended up working in the community is a story for another day but to make a long story short, I got burnt out. Two things happened that made me change directions. First, while working as a recovery therapist on an adolescent unit, a fifteen-year-old with an addiction to huffing (paint), died from an overdose 24 hours after her discharge. She was not the only child I knew who died, just the last. The second thing that happened was that I had to fly a fourteen year old mother back to her home state and commit her to the state hospital. Our … [Read more...]