Dear Washington Evaluators,
What an already exciting start to 2022! Before I begin looking forward, I want to take a moment to sincerely thank Beeta Tahmassebi, our 2021 WE President, and our 2021 Board of Directors for a truly phenomenal year! Despite the continued challenges we all faced in 2021, our Board rose to the occasion and went above and beyond to serve our members.
If you are interested in learning more about all the amazing things we did in 2021, Washington Evaluators was featured during the week of January 23rd, 2022 for the AEA365 blog. Each day, current and former WE Board members shared “How WE Met the Moment by Focusing on Equity and Access.” The 2021 Annual Report is also available here, which provides additional information about our accomplishments last year.
Under Beeta’s leadership, the Washington Evaluators Board engaged members to chart a new course by developing a new strategic plan, which will guide our activities through 2024. We remain firmly committed to WE’s 2020 statement “Embodying Anti-Racism Principles and Practices in Evaluation” and will build on the momentum generated by our previous action plan by generating a new action plan for 2022, which will be an important goal-setting activity for the current WE Board.
My theme for this year is COMMUNITY. In a time when we are physically distanced, there are two ways in which I plan to focus on building a sense of community:
- Redefining Our Identity – During the pandemic, WE has grown by over 60% because virtual programming allowed us to expand our reach by eliminating the commute and welcoming attendees beyond the DC metropolitan region. I will work with our Board members to think about our evolving identity as an organization, expanding our reach within the DC region, leveraging partnerships with other evaluation communities (i.e., AEA, other local affiliates, global communities), and revisiting our programs to ensure they continue to meet the needs and interests of our members.
- Rethinking Engagement – WE has always strived to be transparent and inclusive regarding our decisions and activities. We want to hear more from members about how they feel they could be more included, heard, and welcomed in WE Board decisions and activities. I want to think more deeply about the ways we can do even better in including the voices of our members.
As your President, there are two immediate commitments I am making to help WE build a stronger sense of community:
- Seek an Understanding – Before we begin conversations about bolstering our identity, partnerships, and engagement, I would like to first understand our current organizational identity. I look forward to working with our Membership and Community Engagement Committees to think about how we can better understand the current demographics of our organization so that we can determine how well we are serving our membership.
- Create Space for Networking – In 2022, I look forward to continuing a long-standing tradition of President’s Dinners. I hope to foster community by meeting and getting to know our community members! These dinners are open to all WE members and each will focus on an affinity group or a topic to allow evaluators to see who shares that space with them providing an opportunity to build connections with one another.
Here are three ways our members can contribute to building a strong sense of community:
- Show Up – I look forward to continuing to “see” our members present at events and activities this year. We put on amazing programs for our members and I hope you leverage them to build your network and develop your professional skills.
- Speak Up – I hope to encourage and foster an environment where members feel comfortable and invited to share their thoughts with the Board. I believe that everyone has a seat at the table, and I want to assure all voices are welcomed and heard by our Board members.
- If you have praises, questions, comments, or concerns to share with us, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com.
- If you have any idea for an event/speaker you would like to see on the schedule this year, we would love for you to share your ideas with the Program Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you have a resource, event, or employment opportunity to share with WE members, please send them over to our Communications Committee at email@example.com.
- Step Up – As a fully volunteer Board, we rely heavily on our volunteers to keep WE an exemplary local affiliate and professional evaluation association! We are all so grateful for the service of our amazing Board and the other volunteers who give their time and energy to support our activities.
There are many exciting things on the horizon, and I and our Board members are so thankful to have an organization that is thriving despite the challenges and tragedies our communities have faced in recent years. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you, and your resilience and dedication to this evaluation community is what makes Washington Evaluators such an incredible organization. Thank you for sharing your light, wisdom, knowledge, and (com)passion with each other. I look forward to seeing what 2022 has in store for us!
Esther Nolton, PhD, MEd
2022 Washington Evaluators President