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Evaluation in the Age of COVID

Thu, March 26, 2020 8:47 PM | Anonymous member

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. 

(c) 2017 Washington Evaluators

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