It was only two weeks ago that life was still normal, when going to work meant a commute on the Metro and a work day meant a day in the office among colleagues. Two weeks later, our world has profoundly changed. Our lives have become home-based, with our worklife (if we still have a job) becoming a string of video-conferences that distract us, at least momentarily, from the rising counts of COVID-19 cases we hear on the news. Heading out to the grocery store is now a major event, and the sound of coughing in a public space brings on a sense of dread.
In the midst of this chaos, many of us have also experienced uplifting moments of connection. My video-conferences during the past two weeks have been unusually intimate, often beginning with informal sharing of how we've been impacted by the pandemic and punctuated by the sounds of pets or children that give us insights into the personal lives of clients and colleagues. These digital connections make us all feel a bit closer to each other despite being physically apart. And this matters deeply during a time when the world we've known all our lives seems to be unraveling.
I was delighted to read Michael Quinn Patton's post, Evaluation Implications of the Coronavirus Global Health Pandemic Emergency, which helped me to reflect on the impacts of this crisis on our evaluation practice. He ends the article by challenging us to support each other as an evaluation community. "Buddy up. Stay connected to other evaluators. Participate actively in our professional networks and associations. . . . Think about what contributions you can make, as an evaluator, to mitigate the crisis."
To help us stay connected to each other, Washington Evaluators is offering to members a series of online discussions with thought leaders in our field during the next few months. Aly Lopez of the Center for Evaluation Innovation kicks off our series on April 8 with a discussion about how leaders can affect evaluation capacity building in foundations. On April 22, Donna Mertens discusses the role of transformative evaluation in international development. Michael Quinn Patton rounds out the series with his reflections on evaluation during the pandemic on May 6. Please join the discussion, connect with your peers, and reflect on our potential as leaders improving the world we live in.
I also encourage you to get involved in Evaluation Without Borders, which is currently recruiting evaluators and community-based organizations and nonprofits seeking program planning, measurement, and evaluation services. Perhaps there has been no greater time of need for nonprofits than now. Please share this opportunity with your network.
The Washington Evaluators is devoted to strengthening and sustaining the evaluation community in the Washington DC area by recruiting and helping to educate the next generation of evaluators. Building on our theme of building capacity for public good, Washington Evaluators announces its Next Generation 2020 initiative to support students in the field of program evaluation. This month, WE launches the 2020 “New Professional Scholarship" competition. This scholarship is intended to support new professionals in integrating state-of-the-art knowledge and information sharing into their evaluation practices and approaches within their respective organizations and/or future practice. The Scholarship serves as one means to recruit new professionals into the evaluation community and facilitate continued diversity in the profession. The Scholarship is open to new professionals, currently enrolled students, postdocs and new graduates.
Later this month, students are encouraged to join WE for its first career-focused event for students: the DC SCEP - Washington Evaluators Graduate Student Career Fair and Networking Event. Held on Friday, March 27, at George Washington University, this career fair and networking event provides graduate students with an excellent opportunity to connect with DC-area employers hiring program evaluators. Employers confirmed to attend include Center for Global Health Engagement, EnCompass, Government Accountability Office, Guidehouse, Ipsos Public Affairs, IREX, Itad, Mercy Corps, and Millennium Challenge Corporation. This free event is co-sponsored by the George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Administration's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, Washington Evaluators, and Mirror Group, LLC.
WE encourages our members to support local evaluation students and emerging evaluators by serving as mentors. Mentor Minutes is an initiative that pairs experienced evaluators (mentors) with aspiring, emerging, or seasoned evaluators (mentees) and establish mutually beneficial professional connections. Mentors can provide feedback regarding careers, reflect on their professional experiences, and help build the capacity and networks of emerging evaluators. Mentees, in contrast, will be able to glean insights from mentors regarding academic and professional pathways, technical advice, and general networking.
Thanks to the amazing group of WE Board and committee members and volunteers responsible for supporting students this year: Mindelyn Anderson, Emily Bango, Val Caracelli, Sue Cottrell, Danielle Gilmore, Bryce Leary, and Beeta Tahmassebi.
WE began 2020 with a bold commitment to build the capacity of individuals and organizations to engage in evaluation. No other initiative better illustrates our organization's commitment to build capacity for public good than Evaluation Without Borders, which matches evaluators to non-profits and community-based organizations seeking program planning, measurement, and evaluation services.
In line with the goals of the American Evaluation Association, we hope to not only create opportunities where local nonprofits can build their knowledge and skills to engage in evaluation, but to also create opportunities where evaluators can provide useful services and meaningfully engage with communities across the Washington, D.C. area and beyond.
For participating nonprofits, Washington Evaluators builds a team of DC-based evaluators interested in providing pro bono services. Teams work together on projects that vary based on the needs and assets of each nonprofit and community-based organization. The timeframe of each project will vary; however, a memorandum of understanding will be developed to establish expectations between evaluation teams and clients. Projects are likely to include on-site training on various planning, measurement or evaluation topics for local staff; developing performance measures or data collection instruments; reviewing data sets; assisting with evaluation design; or, conducting an evaluation study. After each project has been completed, Washington Evaluators will follow up with evaluation teams and clients in order to learn how the program can continue to be improved.
Evaluation Without Borders relies on volunteers to make this initiative a success. For evaluators and members of Washington Evaluators interested in providing pro bono support to nonprofits and community-based organizations, please click here to access our pro bono evaluator interest form.
For nonprofits or community-based organizations interested in working with professional evaluators, please click here to access our client interest form.
Special thanks to Evaluation Without Borders coordinator Laura O'Brien and Community Engagement Chair Emily Bango for leading the initiative this year.
Happy New Year, Washington Evaluators members! As I begin my year as WE President, I would like to thank Giovanni Dazzo, WE’s 2019 President, as well as the 2019 Board of Directors and its committee members. This incredibly talented group of volunteers worked tirelessly last year to provide highly engaging activities and services for members, ranging from professional development programs to museum visits and mentoring experiences. We also officially launched our pro bono evaluation support program, Evaluation Without Borders. During 2019, Washington Evaluators experienced unparalleled growth, with our membership increasing to just shy of 400 members.
We begin 2020 with a very successful year behind us, and a most auspicious year ahead – the start of a new decade. Some of you may recall that six years ago, the American Evaluation Association (AEA) board embarked on a multi-year discussion to reimagine the association in 2020. AEA’s Ends Goals statements projected a forward-thinking vision for 2020 as to “how the organization, its members and society as a whole would be impacted if AEA were successful in all of its endeavors.” Rereading these Ends Goals in 2020, they hold up well – an aspirational vision for an evaluation community of practice in which:
- Members interact to promote high quality evaluation practice and professional leadership.
- Members benefit from professional affiliation, leadership opportunities, and inclusion within a diverse community.
- Members have the competencies needed to engage in high quality evaluation that is edifying, ethical, culturally and contextually responsive, useful, and that demonstrates scholarship.
- Student members have ample opportunities to develop the leadership skills and competencies needed to practice evaluation, contribute to the association, and the evaluation knowledge base.
- Evaluation contributes to increased public understanding of challenging issues and solutions.
As the organization’s president this year, my primary goal is to support Washington Evaluators’ continued growth as a community of practice that fulfills this vision. To that end, my priorities focus on two broad themes: 1) building capacity for public good, and 2) nurturing our community of practice.
Building capacity for public good. We begin 2020 with a bold commitment to building the capacity of individuals and organizations to engage in evaluation. The new Community Engagement committee is charged with overseeing initiatives that intentionally grow and sustain our evaluation community of practice and extend the reach of evaluation into the broader Washington, DC, community, and beyond. This committee will provide opportunities for members to develop through mentoring and to build capacity of local non-profits and community-based organizations through the continuing pro bono initiative, Evaluation Without Borders, which matches evaluators to non-profits and community-based organizations seeking program planning, measurement, and evaluation services.
Support for emerging evaluators is an important focus this year. This year, we will offer our New Professional Scholarship, which provides support to new evaluators interested in attending courses at The Evaluators’ Institute. WE will also engage our organizational sponsors in supporting a career fair for students. These activities help ensure a strong start for the next generation of evaluators in our community.
Nurturing our community of practice. The 2020 Board will proudly sustain community-building through professional development and networking activities. Members can build professional competencies by participating in a book discussion or attending a brown bag presentation, or expand their networks at a happy hour, or simply get to know their evaluation peers while touring a museum or visiting a local nonprofit on a field trip – whatever your motivation or interest for getting involved with Washington Evaluators, you’ll find programs that meet your needs. Watch for a members’ survey soon where you can provide input on the types of members-only programming and communications that you would like to see.
WE is a 100% volunteer organization, and we benefit from strong partners that help us serve our community better. I’d like to recognize The Evaluators’ Institute, which provides a discount on course registration to Washington Evaluators members in addition to co-sponsoring events throughout the year; and The IBM Center for The Business of Government, which hosts Washington Evaluators presentations quarterly in their downtown D.C. offices. I’d also like to recognize our newest partner, SUNY/Center for International Development, who recently agreed to provide WE members a discount on its Adaptive Management Theory and Practice for International Development course and plans to co-sponsor a lecture event this March. A special thanks is also owed to our organizational sponsors – leaders in demonstrating support for evaluation in our region, and partnering with us on professional development and networking events.
Finally, I challenge our members to get actively involved in WE: join us at events, sign up as a volunteer or mentor, and participate in Board meetings and events. When I first joined WE in 2011, I began attending events hoping to learn more about my new field of practice. I found in WE more than I expected: opportunities to grow professionally, new friends, and, through my board involvement, a chance to grow and flex my leadership skills. Make one of your New Year’s resolutions to get more involved with WE in 2020 and become an active contributor to building our community of practice in the Washington, D.C. area.
Patricia Moore Shaffer
To read the 2019 Annual Report, please click here.
Dear Washington Evaluators Members:
On behalf of the 2019 Washington Evaluators (WE) Board of Directors, I would like to thank you all for your continued engagement as members, and your energy in supporting our mission to enhance our local evaluation community.
Before I continue my last message as President, I would like to thank the Board with whom I had the pleasure of serving alongside this year, including: President-Elect, Patricia Moore Shaffer; Treasurer, Beeta Tahmassebi; Secretary, Kevin Jones; Program Chair, Melissa Chiu; Membership Chair, Natalie Donahue; New Professional and Student Task Force Chair, Val Caracelli; Scholarship Task Force Chair, Tamarah Moss; Evaluators Without Borders Coordinator, Emily Eisenhauer; and, Mentor Minutes Coordinator, Emily Bango.
As I entered this year as WE President, I sought to promote two themes: (i) evaluation as community, and (ii) evaluators in the community. Throughout the year, the Board was interested in not only ensuring that members could learn from fellow evaluators, but that our members could meet on a more personal and engaged level.
This year, we truly saw the growth of our community, experiencing unparalleled growth with a net increase of 119 dues-paying members. This was the first time since WE began tracking dues-paying membership, that we reached over 100 new members in one year.
Throughout the year, we held our usual professional development events and social gatherings, continuing what we have done well in the past. However, we also organized museum visits, field trips, and book club style events that focused on issues of equity and inclusion, calling on evaluators to think critically (and evaluatively) on how their skills could be applied to question and confront today’s difficult and pressing problems. We also officially launched our pro bono evaluation support program, Evaluation Without Borders—stemming from our successful initiative during the 2017 AEA conference—which provided a space for members to offer hands-on support to advance the social justice missions of their pro bono clients, educate others about our discipline, and learn more about the important work done by non-profits and community-based organizations.
These are just a few of the achievements we saw in 2019, and I welcome you to review more of these successes, as well as areas for improvement, in our Annual Report.
As President, I hope that our activities helped you to more meaningfully engage with your fellow evaluators, but that they also spurred you to question how, as evaluators, we should think about how we can contribute to a more equitable and democratic society.
Giovanni P. Dazzo
2019 WE Board President
Members of Washington Evaluators will be participating in the American Evaluation Association’s (AEA) fall conference, Evaluation 2019, in Minneapolis, DC from November 11-16. At least 78 WE members will join the conference as presenters, panel chairs, group leaders, and discussants.
A list of AEA sessions in which Washington Evaluators members are participating in any capacity is provided here. Please refer to the official AEA conference program for all final session dates and times.
If you are a Washington Evaluators member and your presentation is not listed here, please let us know by emailing at email@example.com.
Thanks to all members who participated in the Washington Evaluators' annual election. Congratulations to Beeta Tahmassebi, elected as the 2020 President-Elect, and Melissa Chiu, elected as the 2020 Secretary.
The following amendments to the Washington Evaluators bylaws also passed:
In this quarterly update, I wanted to focus on several of the more quantitative targets and milestones the Washington Evaluators Board established earlier this year. This update provides a quick snapshot of our 2019 Action Plan, and our progress toward our objectives. If you are interested in seeing more of the 2019 Action Plan, you can access it on this page.
Each update below includes a specific objective in the Action Plan, along with a description of an activity associated with that objective.
Objective 1.4: Recruit and retain DC-based evaluators to support organizational sustainability.
In 2019, Washington Evaluators will increase total membership to 315 members. Baseline: 279 (as of Jan. 1)
As a professional association, membership is at the core of our mission. This year, our Board established a strong focus on increasing our membership in an effort to grow and diversify our community. Based on previous figures, we established a target of a 12% increase. As can be seen, we surpassed this target, increasing membership by 28% as of September 30. We have continued to grow into this quarter as well. As of last week, membership has grown to 382 individuals; an increase of over 100 members, or 37%, in less than one year.
One of the areas that could be attributed to this increase is the emphasis placed on increased communication and meaningful engagement, as noted below.
Objective 2.1: Encourage increased communication and meaningful engagement between Washington Evaluators members about evaluation activities.
At least five Deep Dive (book club style) events to read and discuss short written works on the current issues in the field of evaluation.
Objective 2.2: Facilitate networking and introductions of members.
At least six activity-based networking events during which social interaction is facilitated by a structured activity. Preferably, the activity is related to evaluation (e.g., museum exhibits on social issues, walking tour including information on life in a neighborhood) and allows for mobility (rather than sitting in an assigned seat)
Objective 3.1: Develop group opportunities for members and the DC evaluation community to develop professional skills.
At least two Field Trips to visit and learn about local programs (e.g., non-profits, local government) to support professional interaction with programs in different subject areas
This year, WE has organized nearly 30 events, including events co-sponsored with The Evaluators Institute and other evaluation affiliates. A few areas we wanted to focus on this year included the diversification of our events, including ways where members could discuss new methods and theories, social issues, and learn about local programs.
In addition to membership and events, we also wanted to professionalize our operations. This year, we started our election process early, calling for nominations in August and putting together a full slate of candidates in October. We have also included amendments to our bylaws, seeking to create a Community Engagement Committee, as well as a nine-month volunteer prerequisite for President-Elect candidates. This latter amendment was proposed as just one way to continue systematizing a leadership pipeline, ensuring that President-Elect candidates have experience in an area of Board operations before assuming their role.
To vote, please visit the online ballot by Monday, November 4.
Additionally, in order to more efficiently communicate directly with our members, we have also established dedicated email accounts for each Board member. If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas, please feel free to email a Board member at any time.
Objective 4.2: Recruit and retain volunteers to support Washington Evaluators operations and continuity of leadership.
Elections will be conducted on time, consistent with the Washington Evaluators by-laws, and with a full slate of nominees in October 2019 at the latest. In 2019, a call for new Board Members will be publicized in August 2019, to ensure sufficient time to gather a full slate of candidates.
Objective 4.3: Ensure the Board of Directors operates effectively and efficiently.
Create a branded email account, with dedicated accounts for various functions (e.g., general information, programs, communications). This email account will be established to further professionalize the association’s branding, as well as improve the efficiency of operations.
Next month, if you are attending the AEA conference, please feel free to stop by our co-hosted happy hour, along with other Eastern local affiliates. We hope to see you there or at one of our upcoming events later this fall.
As we make our way through the summer, I wanted to provide another quarterly update for our members so all are aware of the activities and initiatives that have been organized so far this year. In this post, I wanted to highlight the progress the WE Board has made in working toward the two broad themes that we set this year: (1) evaluation as community, and (2) evaluation in the community.
This year, our Program Committee--led by Melissa Chiu--has organized 20 events. When we established our goals and priorities for the year, we sought to support a diverse, inclusive, and engaged evaluation community.
In our programming, we have tried to do this work by organizing events where members can broaden their knowledge of topics such as culturally responsive and equitable evaluation, as well as provoking discussion and debate on societal issues through a series of field trips and museum tours. Next month, we will be organizing a learning exchange with the Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results-Anglophone Africa (CLEAR-AA), on the Made in Africa Evaluation agenda. We hope these events broaden your knowledge, expand your community, and provide opportunities to think about the evolving nature of our discipline.
This year, one indicator of success has been the rapid growth of our dues-paying membership base. From January to mid-July, we saw a 28% increase in the number of members, bringing our total membership to 350. We hope that our members appreciate the value that a $25 membership brings, including access to our mentorship initiative, pro bono evaluation program, weekly news digest, and over 20 events.
To continue promoting our focus on community engagement, the Board has plans to revise our Bylaws and add a new Board position: Community Engagement Chair. As an appointed Board position, this individual will be responsible for bringing some of our newer and exciting initiatives--such as our New Professional Scholarship, Mentor Minutes, and Evaluation Without Borders--under one organizational roof. The Board felt it necessary to create this position so we can continue strengthening our evaluation community and extending our reach into the broader Washington, D.C. community. As this requires a change in Bylaws, a ballot will be sent to all WE members.
Earlier this year, the Board also discussed how to diversify the composition of our WE Board. We asked ourselves whether Board membership is a good representation of our association. For instance, while Federal evaluators make up less than 25% of WE, they generally make up the majority of the Board. We asked how we could encourage student membership on the Board, as well as encouraging diversity with regard to professional background, experience, and demographics. As we make our call for 2020 Board members, please email us to let us know if you are interested, or provide your input on how the Board can better represent our professional association.
With that, I hope you've all had an excellent summer, and as always, we hope you're able to continue engaging with the fellow WE members and the broader community.
Giovanni Dazzo2019 PresidentWashington Evaluators
In following the approval of the Washington Evaluators Strategic Plan for 2017-2020, the 2019 Board of Directors has outlined an Action Plan to include a series of items to be implemented throughout this year. This Action Plan outlines the Board’s commitment to achieving the broader objectives of the organization, ensuring that the association operates efficiently for the benefit of its dues-paying members and the broader evaluation community in the Washington, D.C. area.
In this 2019 Action Plan, the Board has outlined specific action items (✓) and targets (❖), indicating how we intend to make progress toward each goal and objective. At the end of this year, we will provide an update to our members, illustrating the progress we have made on these items.
As I announced earlier this year, the Board will promote two broad themes in 2019—(1) evaluation as community, and (2) evaluation in the community—and we hope to achieve these through the efforts outlined in this Action Plan. This includes several initiatives, including: the incorporation of topics of equity and inclusion within events and communications; the addition of a new Community Engagement Committee, to properly establish and prioritize previous initiatives such as our New Professional and Student Task Force, Scholarship Task Force, and Mentor Minutes; the formalization of our pro bono initiative, Evaluation Without Borders; and, as always, ensuring the association’s financial sustainability and operational efficiency.
We are excited to continue our association’s strong tradition of promoting the field of evaluation in the Washington, D.C. area in 2019, and we thank our members for supporting and sustaining a strong community of local evaluators.
Read the 2019 Action Plan here
Sign up to volunteer with a Washington Evaluator Committee
(c) 2017 Washington Evaluators