Three Integrity Senior MEL Experts Speak at Panels at the Annual AEA Conference

Three of Integrity’s Senior Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning Experts presented their work at panels at the American Evaluation Association’s (AEA) Annual Conference held in Minneapolis, MN last November. The conference provides thousands of AEA’s members from around the globe the opportunity to connect with other practitioners and share their knowledge and experience with best practice in evaluation.

At a panel on 14 November, Mark Oldenbeuving, a Senior MEL Manager from our London office, along with Lamia Renaud, of Palladium, presented their experience utilising the Actor-Based Change (ABC) Framework to conduct contribution analysis on an empowerment and accountability program in Pakistan. Mark co-developed the ABC Framework in 2017. Since then, it has been used to build theories of change that help programs in complex operating contexts understand how they contribute to change and track their progress towards results. In the presentation, Mark and Lamia first shared how they relied on the framework to develop actor-based theories of change to guide analysis for the program in Pakistan. They then identified the data requirements for contribution analysis, which the program’s comprehensive MEL system allowed them to collect. Their panel concluded with a discussion of their practical experience using contribution analysis as an internal MEL method, highlighting the benefits and challenges of the approach.

On the final day of the conference, Kelly Skeith, our US Head of Programs, and Kathryn Rzeszut, a Senior MEL Specialist in the DC office, participated in a Presidential Strand panel entitled When Adaptation Isn’t Optional: Strategies for Evaluation and Learning in Fragile Environments. With colleagues from IRI and PACT, they shared their perspectives on key distinctions between MERL in fragile/conflict environments and more stable development contexts. They provided examples from Integrity’s work to demonstrate how these distinctions play out in the real world and mitigating steps. Kathryn discussed the importance of supporting the mental health of evaluation and monitoring staff in the middle of on-going conflict, while Kelly shared practical options for building the flexibility and adaptation required for evaluations in volatile contexts into budgets, workplans, and contracts. This session was selected to be a Presidential Strand presentation by AEA President Tessie Tzavaras Catsambas and her program chairs. Presidential Strand presentations feature in-depth education sessions that focus on this year’s theme: Paths to the Future of Evaluation: Contribution, Leadership, Renewal.

The theme highlighted the important role that evaluation has to play in providing credible and evidence-based findings in a social and political environment dominated by mistrust and ideological debates. It called on members to consider the profession’s future, acknowledging the contribution it made to the past and identifying current opportunities for leadership. This will require reflection on how evaluation can and should evolve to meet the challenges of increasing public and private capacity for evidence-based decision-making in a post-truth world.

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