June 3, 2019

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

As the new president of our all-volunteer board, I am very excited to share with you a few updates and news about what MNEA is working on this year, including welcoming the AEA 2019 conference attendees to Minnesota in November, increasing our emphasis on diversity and inclusion through an AEA scholarship and other programming, welcoming two new students to our board (and anticipating more board positions opening up this fall), and expanding our reach through more sessions and topics as well as webinar access for our members and friends.

Our mission is to promote and improve the theory, practice, understanding, and use of evaluation and its contributions in the community. We do this by providing professional development trainings and networking opportunities, sharing evaluation job opportunities and evaluation RFPs, connecting Minnesota to the national and international evaluation fields, promoting equity and diversity in the evaluation field, and activities that align with our mission.

As you probably already know, the 2019 American Evaluation Association conference will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center from Nov. 11-16, 2019. The MNEA board and all of the eager volunteers who signed up for the Local Area Work Group (LAWG) are excited to host fun and engaging events and provide welcoming spaces and resources for all our evaluation colleagues from around the world who will be coming to Minnesota for this big conference. I invite you to join us on one of the LAWG subcommittees, including: aea365 blogs, students and university programs, international, communications, scholarship, and local fun activities/welcome kiosk/diversity/welcoming.

On that note, we are VERY excited to announce that, thanks to the generosity of the Bush Foundation, we are able to offer up to 35 scholarships for evaluation students and professionals who want to attend the conference. The scholarships will cover the conference registration fee, an annual membership to AEA and MNEA, and travel costs (if applicable). Our goal is to increase the diversity of conference attendees and create opportunities for people who otherwise would not be able to participate in this amazing learning and networking opportunity, with a particular focus on first-time conference attendees and those who are underrepresented at the conference including people of color and Indigenous people, low-income people, people with disabilities, people who are LGBTQ+ or otherwise gender nonconforming, and people who are neurodiverse. The scholarship application is open from June 3 until July 8. Here is a link to the MNEA website where you can learn more and apply by clicking HERE. Please spread the word to those who might be interested!

We also have a lot of exciting events happening over the next few months. In June and August, MNEA’s program co-chair Erica Orton will host two world cafĂ© session about measuring demographic characteristics on surveys and in other ways for evaluation purposes. MNEA’s outgoing president, Melissa Chapman Haynes has been hosting a series on project management practices in evaluation and another to meet Minnesota evaluators. We are planning a follow-up to our recent session on trauma-informed evaluation, by MNEA members Cheryl Holm-Hansen (Wilder Research), Jill Lipski Cain (Improve Group), and Blair Harrison (Minnesota Department of Health).  

We’re really proud of the variety of topics and formats we’ve been covering at our events to help build up those AEA evaluator competencies and strengthen our professional networks. We’re especially excited about the popularity of the remote participation (webinar) option we’ve been offering for many of our events. By doing this, we hope to engage more MNEA members and friends who are located outside of the metro area as well as anyone who isn’t able to participate in person. If you have suggestions for other ways to expand our reach in Greater Minnesota and our region, we would welcome your input!

Finally, we would like to welcome two new students to the MNEA board: Lixin Zhang, a PhD student in Evaluation Studies at the University of Minnesota and James Clinton, a MPP student at Humphrey School. They will serve a one year term from July 2019 through June 2020. Thanks to our outgoing student board member Hanna Ruth, who recently graduated from Humphrey School. She will be continuing her work at HOPE International. We will be opening several board positions later this fall as our current board members end their terms, including incoming president, treasurer, and membership chair. These are all three year board terms. Think about if you or someone you know might be interested in joining out board, and look for that announcement later this fall.

On that note, I’d like to send out a BIG thank you to my colleagues who are currently volunteering on the MNEA board and those of you who have signed up to volunteer for the LAWG or to present at an MNEA event this year, as well as all of you who have been showing up and making our activities and the Minnesota evaluation community such a vibrant place to be!

Peace to you all!

Nicole MartinRogers, MPP, PhD
MNEA President (2019)

P.S.  Your participation made 2018 a successful year! Read more about MNEA's accomplishments in the 2018 Annual Report

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