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Session Details


Wednesday, March 31st

Opening & Welcome with AZENet President Deven Wisner

Trust & Transparency: Tools Great Than Power with Rakesh Mohan

One of the core elements of evaluation is speaking truth to power—but it is not for the faint-hearted. Speaking truth to power involves taking risks and facing consequences. By building trust and transparency, one can mitigate that risk. Rakesh will illustrate how trust and transparency are more powerful than authority.

Presenter Bio: Rakesh Mohan has been the director of the Office of Performance Evaluations (OPE) since 2002. OPE is an independent, nonpartisan agency of the Idaho Legislature. For its responsive and utilization-focused work, his office received the American Evaluation Association’s 2016 Outstanding Evaluation Award. Rakesh is a recipient of 2016 Donald and Alice Stone Outstanding Practitioner Award from the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). He contributes to the fields of evaluation and public administration through service on (1) the editorial advisory board of the American Journal of Evaluation, (2) the editorial board of the State and Local Government Review, (3) the board of the ASPA Center for Accountability and Performance, and (4) the board of Jannus, an Idaho nonprofit providing health and human services. In the past, he served on the American Evaluation Association’s board of directors, the editorial advisory board of New Directions for Evaluation, and the US Comptroller General’s Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards.

Interpersonal Effectiveness: A Key Competency for Evaluators with Libby Smith

As evaluators, we are regularly challenged to understand the needs of a wide variety of stakeholders, navigate competing priorities of program directors and funders, and facilitate use of evaluation to make meaningful change. To say that evaluators need strong interpersonal skills is an understatement. In this one-hour workshop, we will make the case and lay the foundation for a core set of practices that will cultivate self-awareness and strengthen your ability to be fully present in your work. 

What to expect:

·         An introduction to the Whole-Hearted Interpersonal Practices Framework

·         A practice for cultivating self-awareness and self-compassion

·         Small group discussion on developing our interpersonal skills

Presenter Bio: Libby Smith (she/they) is an organizational healing facilitator, as an experienced and holistic evaluator and educator she excels at the human component of evaluation and organizational change. Never one to shy away from crucial conversations, Libby deftly balances accountability and compassion. Their work focuses on building equity and accessibility through personal growth & embodiment practices. Libby uses all of these skills to provide intersectional and liberation-forward guidance to organizations and clients seeking transformative change. She has an MS in Applied Psychology works for Catalyst at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where she also serves as Program Director for the MS Applied Psychology program. She has been practicing breathwork since 2018, primarily with the guidance of Amy Kuretsky, and has trained in breathwork healing with David Elliott She loves to walk in the woods, take photos and is auntie to 11 year old twin girls. You can learn more about her work at workwithlibby.com

Engaging Stakeholders through Presentation with Sheila Robinson

Presentations are about audience learning. The goal is for participants to walk away with new knowledge, understanding and abilities they can use in their own professional practice. Successful presenters work in service to this goal, whether presenting an evaluation report, giving a keynote, facilitating a workshop, or even running a meeting with stakeholders.

In this immersive session, participants will learn and practice audience engagement and effective slide design. They will experience more than a dozen ways to engage audiences and even more slide design techniques to enhance visual communication - all to enable audiences to put new knowledge into practice in their own contexts. These are skills easily learned, guided by simple principles, but with the powerful potential to influence connections between presenter and audience.

The guiding principle here is “Every presentation worth doing has just one purpose: To make change happen” -Seth Godin

Presenter Bio: Sheila B. Robinson, Ed.D of Custom Professional Learning, LLC, is an educator, consultant, writer, and program evaluator. She facilitates workshops on program evaluation, presentation design, survey design and data visualization, and works with clients to design surveys, presentations, and professional development courses. She is the author of Designing Quality Survey Questions (SAGE Publications, 2018), and Professional Development Program Evaluation For the Win! How to Sleep Well at Night Knowing Your Professional Learning is Effective (Frontline Education, 2018). Sheila is an active American Evaluation Association member where she is Lead Curator and content writer for AEA365 Tip-A-Day By and For Evaluators, their daily blog on program evaluation, Coordinator of the Potent Presentations Initiative (p2i), Chair of the Professional Development Workgroup, Chair of the Awards Workgroup and past Chair of the Pre-K-12 Educational Evaluation TIG.

 Thursday, April 1, 2021

AZENet Award Ceremony with AZENet Immediate Past President Scott Swagerty

Lessons Learned from Evaluation Failures: Communication, Reflection, Empathy & Cultivating Evaluation Champions with Rakesh Mohan

Evaluations are inherently political. Conducting independent evaluations in high-stakes political environments requires balancing independence from and responsiveness to the same sponsors and stakeholders. This means walking a tightrope. Rakesh will share lessons learned from his many tightrope walks over the past 18 years in Idaho’s legislative environment.

Presenter Bio: Rakesh Mohan has been the director of the Office of Performance Evaluations (OPE) since 2002. OPE is an independent, nonpartisan agency of the Idaho Legislature. For its responsive and utilization-focused work, his office received the American Evaluation Association’s 2016 Outstanding Evaluation Award. Rakesh is a recipient of 2016 Donald and Alice Stone Outstanding Practitioner Award from the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). He contributes to the fields of evaluation and public administration through service on (1) the editorial advisory board of the American Journal of Evaluation, (2) the editorial board of the State and Local Government Review, (3) the board of the ASPA Center for Accountability and Performance, and (4) the board of Jannus, an Idaho nonprofit providing health and human services. In the past, he served on the American Evaluation Association’s board of directors, the editorial advisory board of New Directions for Evaluation, and the US Comptroller General’s Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards.


Crafting Meaningful Visualizations on Complex Topics: Lessons for Evaluators from COVID-19 - Amanda Makulec

Distilling complex information into simple, accessible visualizations is a process peppered with tradeoffs. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a prime example of those trade-offs: how to communicate real-time information on community spread? How to communicate research findings, with all of their caveats? How to chart progress of a vaccine rollout?

As evaluators, we also create charts and graphs of complex topics, and can learn many lessons around developing effective data visualizations from reflecting on visualizations of COVID-19. During this talk, we’ll discuss examples of the ways visualizations played a central role in communicating about the pandemic and identify specific lessons we can apply in our own work when reporting on study findings.

 Presenter Bio: Amanda Makulec is the Senior Data Visualization Lead at Excella and holds a Masters of Public Health from the Boston University School of Public Health. She worked with data in global health programs for eight years before joining Excella, where she leads teams and develops user-centered data visualization products for federal, non-profit, and private sector clients. Amanda volunteers as the Executive Director for the Data Visualization Society and is a co-organizer for Data Visualization DC. Find her on Twitter at @abmakulec.

Developing Facilitation Skills with Allison Titcomb

This interactive session focuses on key skills used by facilitators that can improve evaluation practice.  Participants will leave with key questions, practical suggestions and ideas and will have self-reflection and shared time during the session to learn from themselves and others.  While tools and resources will also be shared, the focus will be on facilitation skills and how to develop them. Particular emphasis will be placed on creating inclusive environments, conflict management and consensus building. Unique aspects of applying these skills in online environments will also be discussed.

Presenter Bio: Allison L. Titcomb, PhD, Senior Vice President for Community Development at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, provides leadership and oversight for collective impact work and community partnerships ranging from early childhood coalitions through aging and end-of-life. Allison has also served as a consultant working with local, state and national programs, community-based organizations and nonprofits, governments, foundations and coalitions in strategic planning and evaluation. Allison completed her bachelor's and PhD at the University of Arizona.  Her graduate work in Educational Psychology included memory and decision making across the lifespan and Evaluation Methods. She has certifications in Human Systems Dynamics, Cognitive Coaching, Mediation, Facilitation, and Strengths-based career assessments.  

Friday, April 2, 2021

Closing Remarks and Election Results with AZENet President Elect Nicole Janich

Community Relationships in the Covid-19 Era: Lessons from a Community-Based Assessment on Racial Disparities in Homelessness with Susie Paterson

Covid-19 has challenged evaluators’ ability to develop and strengthen relationships with community members around social change efforts. Using the example of a recent project on racial disparities in a county-wide homelessness Continuum of Care, this talk will focus on community engagement in the Covid-era, specifically, how we develop and maintain relationships with community members, how to conduct equitable research and evaluation, and how to stay flexible and compassionate in the process.

Presenter Bio: Dr. Susie Paterson is the co-founder of Collaborators Consulting Group, a research and evaluation firm focused on creating and sustaining transformative social change through research, evaluation, and education.

How not to use data like a racist, sexist, homophobe (etc….): A seven-step framework for ethics and equity in data with Heather Krause

Very few people build data products because they want to promote racist or sexist ideas. However, it’s very easy to accidentally fall into these traps, particularly when there’s so much talk about the objectivity of evidence. It’s really easy to make mistakes when using data. A working understanding of how to incorporate ethics and equity into data products is essential for anyone conducting data analysis or making decisions based on data analysis. This talk provides you with several shocking real-world examples and a seven-step framework for identifying inequity and hidden bias in the data product lifecycle. As interest in ethics in data grows, this remains one of the few actionable frameworks for making equitable change in the way you use data as a team. It has been successfully implemented to improve ethics within data, algorithms, dashboards and more at Mastercard, Oxfam, the UN, the Margaret Cargill Foundation, Borealis, and several national governments.

Presenter Bio: Heather Krause, PStat is a data scientist with over a decade of experience building tools that improve practices and systems. Heather is a statistician with years of experience working on complex data problems and producing real-world knowledge. She has a strong love of finding data, analyzing it in creative ways and using cutting edge visualization methods to visualize the results. Her emphasis is on combining strong statistical analysis with clear and meaningful communication. She is currently working on implementing tools for equity and ethics in data. As the founder of two successful data science companies, she attacks the largest questions facing societies today, working with both civic and corporate organizations to improve outcomes and lives. Her relentless pursuit of clarity and realism in these projects pushed her beyond pure analysis to mastering the entire data ecosystem including award-winning work in data sourcing, modeling, and data storytelling, each incorporating bleeding edge theory and technologies. Her work proves that data narratives can be meaningful to any audience from a boardroom to the front page. Heather is the founder of We All Count, a project for equity in data working with teams across the globe to embed a lens of ethics into their data products from funding to data collection to statistical analysis and algorithmic accountability. Her unique set of tools and contributions have been sought across a range of clients from MasterCard and Wells Fargo to the United Nations, the Canadian Government, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is on the Data Advisory Board of the UNHCR.

Don't Skip to the End! Data Visualization as Your Research Process

This presentation will cover some fundamentals of using data visualizations to display complex information, as well as using visualizations to solve problems and generate new questions.  Be prepared to draw.

Presenter Bio: Michael Simeone is the Director for Data Science and Analytics at ASU Libraries and an Assistant Research Professor with the Biosocial Complexity Initiative at Arizona State University.  His research explores interdisciplinary applications of data science. He is also a Senior Sustainability Scientist with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU. He received his PhD in English at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 2011, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Illinois Informatics Institute at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications



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