The Top 10 Reasons Why I Enjoyed Attending “Evaluation 2013”

I recently traveled to Washington, DC for Evaluation 2013, that is, the annual conference of the American Evaluation Association. It was a great trip, filled with networking, new techniques, and resources that I could use to serve my clients better.

As I reflected on the event while watching David Letterman last night, I decided that a top ten list might be the best way to commemorate the occasion. Therefore, I bring you:

The Top 10 Reasons Why I Enjoyed Evaluation 2013


10.   Spent four full days basking in the vibe of 3000+ like-minded evaluation peeps. That’s a lot of researchers, my friends.

9.     Lunched with a distant relative and found that a love for outcomes measurement runs deep within my DNA.

8.     Learned about free web resources for creating infographics with about 200 of my closest friends. Woo!

7.    Discovered that Facebook can be used to find dinner companions when traveling out-of-town. (I recommend The Hamilton when in DC, especially the Candy Bar Pie.)

6.    Completed an Ann Emery trifecta! Had a great lunch with her, picked up Excel tricks for evaluators during her presentation, and then learned more about the cool stuff that is happening at Innovation Network.

5.   Inspired the Evaluation Blogger Extraordinaire, Chris Lysy, to draw a cartoon. Accepted his challenge to write a blog entry about the conference (you’re reading it) and gained approval to use one of his cartoons as a visual aid (see above).

4.    Had the opportunity to share the awesome work that one of my clients, Commonwealth Autism Service, is doing to build internal evaluation capacity. The hardcore, albeit small, crowd that showed up at 8AM on the last day of the conference has my eternal gratitude.

3.    Connected with three Promise Neighborhood programs across the country, which will help me with a current project.

2.    Had a genuine fangurl moment when I sat next to an evaluation icon, Michael Quinn Patton, at the Nonprofit Topical Interest Group Business Meeting and was uncharacteristically rendered speechless. I swung by the Sage exhibit booth and bought his book at a 30% discount (score!) and was then stopped by no fewer than three individuals who commented on its brilliance when they saw it in my hand. I’ve vowed to send him a message after I read it.

And the number 1 reason that I enjoyed attending the American Evaluation Conference:

1.   Was able to take (unscientific, invalid, and confounded) credit for ending the federal government shutdown.

Regardless of your discipline, professional development conferences can be a great source of information on emerging trends and new techniques, as well as a conduit to become more energized and connected within your field. We’d love to hear about a great professional development experience you’d had recently. What conference, training or workshop would you recommend to a colleague?