Some conference themes resonate with me more than others. When I saw this one I thought, “Yes!” Innovation, action, and reflection are all things that have been on my mind lately as an evaluator. Let me tell you why.
I took my first evaluation course in 1988 and went out on my own as an independent consultant in 1998. So as you can imagine I have a few years to reflect on. My first CES conference was Toronto 1990. For years it seemed to me there was nothing new in evaluation, and probably for good reason. We were still a young, relatively new profession and everyone was busy building our reputation and seeking acceptance. Fast forward to 2005-2006 and things seemed to really take off. Now everywhere I look I see innovation being introduced into the field, and it’s very exciting. From boundary-pushing reports to previously unthinkable forms of data collection, the times they are a changin’. Sometimes it freaks me out as I try to keep up, but it’s still exciting. Continue reading
My son is four and has been asking some really interesting questions lately. Did someone put the moon up in the sky? Can you turn the stars off with our light switch? From an early age, we learn about the world through questions, many of which parents can be entirely unprepared for. If there is one thing that I want him to keep alive and refine in school is the impetus to always ask questions, to think critically and to get answers, or as close as we can to them. Luckily this is something that we value in Canadian society. You can even grow up to be an evaluator! (Though fire fighter, doctor and nurse are still top of his mind)
The heart of evaluation lies in critical thinking. We are not experts in a program but we can help those who are part of it to step back, ask good questions, and uncover the answers. Fundamentally we help people look at what they are doing in a new way. Continue reading
From previous blog posts (see here, here, here, and here), you can tell that I’m a fan of expanding my skills and learning in evaluation through conferences. Attending these events, hosted by the Canadian Evaluation Society and the American Evaluation Association, has also connected me into a diverse community of practitioners, academics, consultants, students, grantmakers, government officials, and more who are brought together by a common interest in the field of evaluation. Given this blend of learning, sharing, and connecting, I try to make it out to these conferences whenever circumstances allow.
The next Canadian Evaluation Society conference will be taking place in Vancouver from April 30 to May 3, and I’m excited for a couple of reasons – not least because Vancouver is a beautiful city to visit, relatively close (well, close by Canadian standards, at least) to my home base of Saskatoon, and home to several evaluation colleagues and friends. What really piqued my interest is an initiative for the conference that’s being led by one of those colleagues and friends, Sarah Farina of Broadleaf Consulting. Evaluators are being encouraged to blog on the conference theme (Facing Forward: Innovation, Action and Reflection) in the months leading up to the conference. It’s a neat way to start the conversation well in advance of the meeting itself, and hopefully have it continue afterwards! Continue reading
It’s now only 7 and a-half months before the 2017 Canadian Evaluation Society Conference begins. Thinking back on the journey to date, one of the early tasks that stands out for me was the process of identifying a theme. I was tasked with leading that process so I started by sitting down with a pen and paper and a BIG cup of coffee. I wrote down words and concepts that I felt represented what I’ve been hearing my evaluation colleagues and students talk about. That list was revisited and revised many times after conversations with Co-Chair, Sarah Farina and a host of others who engaged in the conversation. Just looked at my computer files and my first theme document was created in May 2015!
After several meetings and months of collecting feedback from a wide range of people, in April 2016 we landed on our 2017 conference theme–“Facing Forward: Innovation, Action and Reflection”. After that meeting I celebrated (not with coffee!). We are pleased with the response we’ve received to date; this theme seems to be resonating well with people. So far, we’ve heard unsolicited comments like “love the theme”, “exciting”, “great theme”. This feedback has made us all very happy! J Continue reading
I’m delighted to be Co-chairing the 2017 CES conference with Chris Lovato. My first introduction to CES was at the 2010 conference in Victoria. I’d been working in evaluation for many years, including conducting training in monitoring and evaluation. At that time, though, I wasn’t familiar with evaluation as a discipline.
What struck me most about the conference was how collegial attendees were, and how curious they were to learn. I enjoyed the sessions I attended, and more than that, I savoured the open and exploratory conversations that took place throughout the event. Almost every session made me feel like I’d finally come home. People were friendly, used a language I understood, and talked about topics I cared about. I felt from that time that I was joining a community of people working in the same realm, though the boundaries were still being worked out. Continue reading
How are evaluators responding to the new and emerging demands of a changing world?
We are in the midst of an era with revolutionary changes in the way we work. Technology, social media, economic challenges, globalization and a wide range of emerging trends is changing the way we think and act in our profession and how we solve problems.
The theme for next year’s conference is: Facing Forward: Innovation, Action, and Reflection.
Together, we’ll explore how we, as evaluators, are thinking about our work and how we are meeting the challenges of a growing discipline operating in a rapidly changing society.
We invite you to join us in Facing Forward by reflecting on your work, and sharing your ideas and experiences. This space is dedicated to reflection on the CES 2017 theme.
We are working hard to organize a dynamic and engaging CES 2017 Conference in Vancouver. CESBCY members voted in June 2014 to host the conference, and since that time, we’ve been working with CES National to create a meaningful event that brings together evaluators in diverse roles to share, learn and collaborate. We’ve passed a few important milestones:
- Selecting the scenic Westin Bayshore as the venue, with a layout that supports maximum networking
- Setting up an incredible conference planning team with our talented volunteers
- Testing innovative ways to support learning and networking at one-day conferences: CESBCY 2014 Health Evaluation Conference: Evaluation as a Learning Process and CESBCY 2015 Evaluation Conference: Collaboration, Contribution and Collective Impact
- Creating a conference budget and workplan
- Engaging volunteers via volunteerspot
We thank the team of CES 2015 in Montreal and CES 2016 in St. John’s, who have provided valuable guidance. Our incredible team of volunteers is made up of experienced and new evaluators from throughout BC and Yukon as well as national CES members located throughout the globe. We have received invaluable advice and insights from our colleagues at AEA. All in all, this experience is bringing out the best in our profession and we thank everyone who is working with us to make CES 2017 a great success.
Keep an eye out here for more updates!