President's Update, September 2016

I am pleased to write this as my first bi-monthly update in my new role as CES President. What a challenging and rewarding task!

I am writing this from Maastricht, Holland at the Europeon Evaluation society meetings. This is my 4th such meeting, and this year I will speak to the professionalization agenda on behalf of CES along with many other Canadians who are here.

Then there was the memorable St. John's conference. It started with 2.5 days of Board meetings which was great chance for me to get on top of the issues prior to formally taking on the role of President on July 1st. The conference was a huge success thanks to the organizing committee. Newfoundlanders remind us that small and focussed teams can have a huge impact, especially when grounded in local culture and a welcoming environment. Such a great vibe in the room as many of us were screeched in and "kissed the cod". I participated in a variety of sessions and presented a paper or two. For me, the most rewarding part of CES conferences is the chance to make new friends and renew old acquaintances. I did lots of that and have not missed a CES conference in many years – and I plan to attend many more in the future.

I have also engaged in the national student case competition for many years. My teams from Guelph have won a few times in the past and we were lucky enough to get to to the finals this year. In the end the folks from Memorial University put together the winning effort.

The National Executive and Board of Directors meets regularly every 4 to 6 weeks to address quite a demanding workload in a short programming year between now and the Vancouver conference at the end of April. I am assisted by national Board of Director members in this, as well as by Rebecca Mellett our Executive Director, to deliver on the CES' Strategic Plan 2015-2018. We are busy organizing an agenda for our annual fall face-to-face Board meetings in Toronto in November, preceded by a few parallel workshops for CES-ON Chapter side meetings with evaluation partners to make best use of our time in the area.

Our agenda has been full and will continue to keep up with a challenging pace:

  • Professional Development: working on the e-Institute to refine the platform and initial on-line course offerings which will soon be pilot-tested; I look forward to announcing the launch shortly. The monthly CES webinar series will soon be launched, if you have superb topics or speaker ideas do let us know. Members are taking good advantage of the Mentoring Initiative for specific coaching needs or offers.
  • Membership strategy: CES will soon launch it's first (ever!) national survey of membership – a very important part of the Society's awareness of member interests, concerns and ideas... everyone is encouraged to take a few minutes to fill it in. It will be a biannual exercise, allowing Chapters and Committees to reach out in the interim.
  • Communication and Marketing: CES is implementing a strategy to expand the profile and reach of evaluation and our Society across Canada and beyond. I look forward to making new connections and will be reaching out to Chapters to see what portunities lay ahead for the coming year.
  • Professional Designations Program: the Credentialed Evaluator designation is growing and thriving, and improvements are being implemented as recommended in the formative evaluation last spring. In addition, CES is expanding the set of courses available for continuing professional development through our e-Insitute, coming soon.
  • Vancouver Conference April 30-May 3, 2017: progress is well underway, I am pleased to announce that the calls for proposals has been launched, promote widely!
  • Other operational tasks: the contract renewal for the CES Secretariat with Megram is complete, and new client service standards are forthcoming. The Board and Secretariat work together to respond to a variety of issues coming up at the Chapter-level.

In late October I head for Atlanta to represent CES at AEA and to participate in a workshop on assessing the impact of programs interventions at scale. The international Development Research Centre is playing a lead role in organizing this session. I would like to see more international material in our CES conferences if possible!


Harry Cummings
CES President