ETB Blogs

Celebrating Community at the ETB Gathering

On November 9, 2022, Expanding the Bench® (ETB) held the first annual ETB Gathering at the American Evaluation Association Conference in New Orleans, LA. This event marks the first time the ETB Team and community members have gathered in person since 2019! Our Team was excited to offer the opportunity for Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity (LEEAD) Scholars, Mentors, and Alumni; Advancing Culturally-responsive and Equitable (ACE) Evaluation Network Members; Funders of Evaluation; and evaluation partners to come together in celebration of culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE). With New Orleans cuisine and drinks in hand, ETB community members mixed and mingled — some seeing each other beyond a computer screen for the very first time.

During the Gathering, ETB celebrated the culmination of Cohort 4 LEEAD Scholars. These 12 Scholars began their program in the fall of 2021, undergoing a curriculum and Practicum Site experience to enhance their CREE practice. We are thrilled to acknowledge these amazing individuals for their successful completion of the LEEAD Program! Learn more about the Cohort 4 Scholars here.

We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the amazing LEEAD Mentors who worked to support and guide the Scholars through the program, imparting knowledge, providing thought partnership, and being a sounding board. Learn more about the Cohort 4 Mentors here.

Cohort 4 Scholars and Mentors at the ETB Gathering in New Orleans. Pictured, from left to right: LaJoy Spears, Leah Neubauer, Margaret (Meg) Hargreaves, Brittany Marshall, Paula Caffer, Sharon Brisolara, Ozen Guven, Diana Serrano, Chloé Green, Geri Lynn Peak, Elidé Flores-Medel, Arthur (Art) Hernandez, Erika Gaitan, Janelle Armstrong-Brown, Natalia Ibañez, Noemi Avalos, Rucha Londhe.

The Gathering also offered an opportunity to introduce and celebrate the newest ACE Evaluation Network Members. This year, ETB has moved to a rolling application for the Network, accepting new Members twice a year. After our first application cycle, we were thrilled to welcome nine new Members and acknowledge them during our celebration. Read more about the new ACE Evaluation Network Members here.

During the Gathering, ETB community members were able to network and mingle with one another during the “World Café” networking activity. Participants moved among tables to reconnect with colleagues and meet new folks. As music played in the background, everyone had an opportunity to engage in conversation and laughter.

With closing remarks from Advisory Team Member Amir François, the lights came down and the ETB community was able to let loose on the dance floor! Our Team had a blast dancing and singing with everyone, appreciating the feeling of joy and community in a way that doesn’t always translate virtually. ETB will be hosting an ETB Gathering in conjunction with the American Evaluation Associate Conference each year. We look forward to dancing with you all next year!