Evaluation 2013: A Conference Story and 9 reflections

If you were to ask me last week how I was feeling after the conference, I would have probably said reenergized.  At this moment though, to be honest, I’m a little overwhelmed.

The conference was great but now I have so many plans for this blog, and evaluators I want to follow-up with, that it’s hard to know where to start.

One step at a time.

Evaluation 2013: A Conference Story

I’ve taken just about all of the cartoons created during the conference, added a story, and turned it into a 96 page ebook.  You can get your own copy here.  Unlike a lot of my other stuff, the only way to read this story is through the ebook.


I had a lot of fun cartooning the conference and really appreciate all of you who provided me with inspiration.  As always, the cartoons are fair game for presentations and the like, just keep in the link.

1. High attendance and evaluation star systems

So, even with the shutdown starting the week, it was a well attended event.  Ann Emery did the math…

Eval13: 3000+ evaluators, 800+ sessions, and way too little time to soak it all in

And the whole star system thing.  If you check out Ann’s post, you’ll notice Michael Quinn Patton got his own hashtag.  I decided to take in a session myself, cartooned it, and got this little tweet in return 🙂


2. Talk of the government shutdown

With the conference opening during the shutdown, there were definitely sessions cancelled.  Also, poor furloughed Matt Keene ended up spending his first day in the lobby!  Luckily on day two, everything opened back up.  It also lead to this being my most popular cartoon…


3. I’ll be recognized by someone I don’t know and they will call me “the cartoon guy.”

This happened day one during the first session I attended.  Also Kaye, next time introduce yourself 🙂

4. Evaluation is a way of life (even the silly conversations are inspirational)

Had a nice little conversation in the hallway with John Gargani.  We both have odd senses of humor so our conversations go to weird places.  Found out a little later that this talk was somewhat inspirational (see John’s blog post).

John even created a chart for me…


5. Bringing a new blogger online

My session on Saturday morning went great.  It was a giant room (where they held the plenaries) but with small crowd of 30 or 40 attendees.  Ann Emery snapped this picture of Susan Kistler, Sheila Robinson, and myself.

Looking at the picture, the casual observer would just think I was in the middle of a blink.  But that’s totally not true.  I added a little thought bubble so you could know exactly what was going on.

Blog Session

So far at least two of the session attendees have started blogging!

That’s right, we already have tomeval.com and marysnash.com.

Now I don’t really bring new bloggers online, they have to already want to blog, the only thing I have ever done is help push new bloggers over the edge.  Of course, I can really only get an assist on any of these.  If you just started your eval blog, and are holding out on me, let me know!

6. The people who read this blog are awesome

I met a bunch of you at the conference.  Thank you for all the kind words.  You keep me inspired.

On day one I drew that excited evaluators TIG cartoon  inspired by Wendy Tackett.  She liked it and wrote this comment.

Oh Chris, you don’t know how perfect that excited evaluators TIG cartoon is!!! I’m the one at large meetings and conferences (that have very few evaluators present) who hoots & hollers whenever a presenter says evaluation or data. Love it!!!! I’m going to write it on a ribbon at AEA :)

Wendy stayed true to her word and she already has a fellow member in Corey Smith.

Wendy and Corey

I also received a cartoon!  I love it when evaluators send me their own creative work.  I’m not the territorial type so if you have something creative you’d like to share, I’m always interested.

This cartoon was created by Rachel Albert using Power Point and clip art 🙂  She says it is her first and possibly her last.  So please send @rachelnalbert a tweet and give her some encouragement.


7. People who couldn’t attend, really appreciate blog posts

Blogging is a pathway to at least partially open up closed academic events.  And the more bloggers the better, why do you think I’m always pushing for new ones?

Think social media is just a novelty or something people do as a hobby, I’ve got a bunch of emails and a string of tweets that say you’re wrong.  If we keep pushing forward, maybe we can actually do more than just give a taste.




8. The future, at least for me, is practical

Outside of cartooning the conference, I had a lot of conversations.  I really wanted to know how I could make myself more valuable to the community.  When I sat down and chatted with evaluators about their practice, I determined two things.

1) The stuff evaluators really could use, in terms of social media and data visualization, isn’t all that complicated.

2) I already know the tools that could help them.

So that’s my plan for the coming year.  I’m going to take all the stuff I’ve been collecting in my head over the last several years and try to turn it into something practical.

What to blog about

9. The conversations continue

I’m going to give another plug  for Ann’s blog, because she’s done a great job collecting all the conference recaps in her comments section.  There are a bunch of really good ones, so if you’re interested in conference takeaways, I definitely suggest heading over there!


  1. Trina Willard on October 31, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for the great debrief on your thoughts from Evaluation 2013, Chris! I look forward to seeing more of the great info & resources you’ll be creating this year (and benefiting from them, natch), as well as keeping in touch to keep the coversation, well…fresh.

    • Chris Lysy on October 31, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      Thanks Trina, looking forward to keeping in touch as well 🙂

  2. Sheila B Robinson on November 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    What a great collection of conference memorabilia here – reflections, pictures, tweets, cartoons…a virtual scrapbook of great memories. Of course, I’m really looking forward to seeing more of the “stuff” you’ve been collecting in your head. I’ve collected a lot of stuff in my head too. Some of it spills out into notebooks, pieces of random paper, and the deep recesses of my cell phone notebook (Siri puts the stuff somewhere), and once in a while some of it makes it into a blog post when I can glue coherent bits together. You seem to have a wonderful talent for weaving that stuff together in a meaningful and engaging way. 🙂

    • Chris Lysy on November 2, 2013 at 6:05 am

      Thanks Sheila,
      I loved your last reflection piece. Hope it was enough for you to fall in love with the long-form approach 🙂

  3. Tom Archibald on November 3, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Your blog helped push me over the edge to give it a try:

    • Chris Lysy on November 4, 2013 at 8:24 am

      Awesome Tom!

  4. Nan Wehipeihana on November 8, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    The trouble with your fantastic cartoons as a creative approach to blogging is it makes the rest of us feel so yesterday; and so boring – sigh!. On the other hand they are truly inspiring about what the possibilities might be – if we could only be brave enough.
    Back home in NZ from AEA13 and only now beginning to think about pulling some conference reflections together for anzea (Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association). If only I’d done something every day as you did, I’d be done now. Will just have to drag off the posts I did for my facebook family, friends and colleagues – and resurrect my blog which has been largely dormant for the last 18 months. And the time frame is???
    Roll on AEA14. See you in Denver.

    • Chris Lysy on November 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      What a sweet comment, thank you Nan 🙂

      When you do resurrect your blog (which I hope you do) can you let me know. Would love to check it out.