Plenary Sessions

The 2023 Plenary sessions will feature in-depth presentations that focus on this year’s theme: The Power of Story. Take a look at what to expect from these sessions, and stay tuned for more details to come!

Schedule is subject to change.

Opening Plenary Session - Igniting Healing Through Storytelling

Speaker: Tanaya Winder

Wednesday, October 11 | 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. ET

Many times, on our healing journeys we must pause and ask ourselves: what is holding us back? What prevents us from letting go of past wounds so that we can move forward in a good way, untethered from the pain, hurt, or trauma? Often, the answer is: fear. But fear provides us with an opportunity to pause, take stock, and reflect on the present moment.

Learn how to tap into the power of F.E.A.R by letting your heartwork lead you. Join Tanaya as she weaves resilience and empowerment into her storytelling and performance. Discover how you can use storytelling as a healing tool that allows us to plant seeds of resilience that blossom into ancestral strength and liberation.


  • Learn how storytelling is a type of healthy coping mechanism.
  • Be empowered to self-determine what honoring voices looks like.
  • Understand what igniting your fire means to you, your family, and community.
  • Understand the importance of centering connection and relationships in storytelling.
  • View storytelling as a form of power-building for individuals and communities
  • Stories help steward trauma.

Tanaya Winder

About Tanaya Winder: Tanaya Winder is an author, singer / songwriter, and motivational speaker who comes from an intertribal lineage of Southern Ute, Pyramid Lake Paiute, and Duckwater Shoshone Nations, where she is an enrolled citizen. She is a 2016 National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development “40 Under 40” emerging American Indian leader. Winder co-founded As/Us: A Space for Women of the World, a literary magazine publishing works by BIPOC women. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of New Mexico. 

Winder’s performances and talks blend storytelling, singing, and spoken word to teach about different expressions of love and “heartwork.” Her poetry collections include Words Like Love and Why Storms are Named After People and Bullets Remain Nameless. Her specialties include youth & women empowerment, healing trauma through art, creative writing workshops, and mental wellness advocacy. Learn more. 

Thursday Plenary Session - Data-Driven DEI

Speaker: Dr. Randal Pinkett

Thursday, October 12 | 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. ET 

About Dr. Randal Pinkett:
Dr. Randal Pinkett has established himself as an entrepreneur, innovator, speaker, author, media personality and DEI expert who is leading the way in business, technology and equity for all. He is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, a global, multimillion-dollar research, training, consulting, technology, and data analytics firm whose mission is to leverage diversity, insights and innovation to transform lives, accelerate equity and create lasting change. The company has been recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Best Management Consulting Firms, Ernst & Young as EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Manage HR Magazine as a Top 10 Firm for Diversity & Inclusion, the Black Enterprise BE100s list of the nation’s largest Black-owned businesses, and the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America.

Dr. Pinkett is an expert in several areas relating to emerging technologies, “big data” analytics, social innovation, culture, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and is a regular contributor on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox Business News. An international public speaker, he is the author or co- author of several books including Black Faces in High Places, Black Faces in White Places, Data- Driven DEI, Campus CEO, and No-Money Down CEO. 

Friday Plenary Session

AEA Awards Ceremony

Friday, October 13 | 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. ET

About this session: The American Evaluation Association (AEA) is excited to announce the reintroduction of its prestigious awards program to be presented at Evaluation 2023 in Indianapolis, IN. AEA offers awards in seven distinct areas to recognize truly exemplary performance. Our awards ceremony celebrates accomplishments, published work, support of the association, advocacy efforts, and career achievement of AEA members. Join us for this special plenary as we celebrate and honor the contributions of your distinguished colleagues with light refreshments!

Closing Plenary Session - The stories that we tell matter: The courage to show up

Speaker: Gladys Rowe

Saturday, October 14 | 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET

What are your evaluation stories? The stories we tell matter. 

The kinds of stories we tell, the ways we tell the stories, and who determines what stories are important are all key considerations when we think about the power of evaluation to work toward decolonial futures. 

Stories are relational methods, and in my work across Turtle Island, story has been a fundamental mechanism for me to lean into the roles and responsibilities I carry to be in good relations with those that I am walking alongside.  

How might story show up in your work? Story shows up in reflecting on our identities and who we are as evaluators and why the work of evaluation is important to us. Story shows up in building evaluation relationships - sharing who we are, where we come from, and what it is we hope to build together. Story shows up in how we learn about the program, project, or initiative in the evaluation journey. Story shows up in the processes and products for sharing the learning and findings of our work. 

There are many methods for engaging with story in evaluation. This plenary session will share examples of diverse arts-based methods including film, photography, collage, poetry, and podcasting. The session will invite the audience into a poetic inquiry process, to consider how the intentional use of story in their practices could transform how we show up as evaluators to support transformed futures. Using poetic inquiry, the audience will be invited to reflect on the learning that has been gathered during the conference and engage with their evaluation origin stories, learning stories and vision for the future of evaluation stories. 

What stories will you take with you from your time at Evaluation 2023 and how might this shift or strengthen how you show up to transform the field of evaluation? 

Gladys Rowe
About Gladys Rowe: Gladys Rowe (she/her) is a Muskego Inniniw (Swampy Cree) person who also holds relations with ancestors from Ireland, England, Norway, and Ukraine. She is a member of Fox Lake Cree Nation, Treaty 5 in Northern Manitoba. Gladys is an Indigenous Scholar doing work that supports Indigenous resurgence through many pathways including leading Indigenous evaluation & learning, supporting Indigenous birthkeepers, designing curriculum, and sharing stories through workshops, film, and podcasting. Learn more.