In the 1980s, evaluation was in its infancy: the people in the field were few and not necessarily well trained, and evaluation was still struggling to distance itself from research. The CES (and American Evaluation Association) provided me with a group of like-minded people and resources.
Taking part in conferences and serving on many committees were powerful motivators in keeping me afloat in the field of evaluation. They also helped me identify areas in which I wanted to develop my skills. But more specifically, these activities fostered casual discussions and information-sharing with colleagues, both of which have proven to be valuable sources of reflection, questioning and inspiration for my teaching, research and publications in the field. None of these things would have been possible without these experiences.
I’ve come to realize that I may not have influenced the practice as much as it has influenced me. This is probably what led me to conclude my latest book with the acknowledgement that while I had begun the project with the goal of contributing to the advancement of knowledge in program evaluation, I humbly confess that I have come out of it a different person, hopefully a better one.