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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
This month, we celebrate a number of holidays including Easter and Passover, but we also celebrate National Volunteer Month. As Washington Evaluators is a completely volunteer-run association (that’s right, Board and Committee members act in an unpaid capacity), I wanted to thank our current volunteers and Board members.
As our way to observe this month of volunteerism, the WE Board wanted to show our appreciation to those who have contributed their time in supporting our local affiliate throughout the years. During our Board meeting in March, we nominated two individuals for honorary Lifetime Membership. Lifetime Members have all privileges of regular membership but are exempted from paying dues.
By unanimous vote, we elected Dr. Valerie Caracelli and Dr. Kathryn Newcomer as Lifetime Members.
Val and Kathy have both been long-time volunteers and supporters of our local affiliate. Kathy served as President from 1995-1997, while Val served as President from 1997-1999.
In my experience on the Board, I was lucky to take over as Program Chair after Val, as she acted as a mentor to me and a number of other Board members. Val has served on the Board in a number of capacities for over 20 years, from President (1997-1999) to Program Chair (2014-2015). She currently leads our New Professional and Student Task Force, where she worked with WE’s University Ambassadors to establish the DC Consortium Student Conference on Evaluation & Policy. Due to Val’s strong record for professional service, she received the 2016 AEA Robert Ingle Service Award. On the AEA Board of Directors from 2007-2009, she served as liaison to the Ethics Committee and helped develop additional case study training materials on the Guiding Principles for Evaluators.
David Bernstein (former WE President) provided a statement on Kathy's record of professional service and mentorship: “Kathy was an inaugural WE University Ambassador and continues to serve in that capacity, ensuring that WE has an active and meaningful connection with future evaluators. As a mentor Kathy has consistently encouraged her students about the importance of volunteering in the evaluation community, and two of her former students have succeeded her as President of WE. As a Board member of the American Evaluation Association and as 2017 President, Kathy was a staunch advocate for AEA’s affiliate system. Her support of WE and other affiliates has strengthened the relationship between AEA and its affiliates, and WE has grown organizationally in large part due to her commitment”.
On behalf of our Board, I would just like to thank Val and Kathy again for their extensive records of service to our local affiliate, as it truly speaks to the importance of creating a community of evaluators.
As many of us are accustomed to writing or reviewing quarterly reports for work, I thought this would be a nice opportunity to update fellow WE members on what the Board has been up to so far this year. As a professional association with dues-paying members, I also wanted to ensure that we’re not only accountable to our members, but that all members have a chance to learn more about the events, activities, or communications they may have missed.
Our Program Committee has done an excellent job curating events focusing on our two broad themes this year: (1) evaluation as community, and (2) evaluation in the community. I’ll speak briefly on both here. Last month, I had the opportunity to host several WE members at my home for dinner. Our Sine Qua Non dinners provide a great way to create a sense of community by sharing a meal and conversation with fellow WE members. Any member can host a Sine Qua Non dinner at their home or a neighborhood restaurant, so please reach out if you are interested.
Earlier this week, I attended a WE-sponsored field trip to Pathways to Housing DC. This is part of our priority to get evaluators out into the city so we can engage with the broader DC-area community. We had the opportunity to listen about the amazing work conducted by Pathways, as well as from two of their program participants. To share a bit for those who may have missed this event: Pathways seeks to provide home, health, and hope to more than 3,500 individuals who are homeless or at risk of homeless. They currently have a 91% housing retention rate. You can learn more about their evidence-based approach here.
We hope you are enjoying our members-only Weekly Digest and WEval Forum. If you have items (e.g., employment opportunities, interesting reads, events) you would like us to advertise, please email at any time. We’ve also increased our Twitter and LinkedIn presence, which you are hopefully finding informative. I would just like to note that we still do not have a Communications Chair, so our current Board members are doubling up on duties. If you would like to volunteer, please let us know (I promise it’s not too much work; I’ll even buy you a drink at the next happy hour).
Earlier this year, we launched Evaluation Without Borders as a formal year-round programming option for members. We experienced a slow start in generating a client base, but I think this is an important note to make: as professional evaluators, we should strive to improve our connections in our communities. That said, after some targeted outreach, I’m glad to say that we were able to match nine pro bono clients with pro bono teams in our first round this year.
Additionally, our Mentor Minutes program has matched nearly ten individuals in the last few months. Mentor Minutes is set up for busy professionals, so please do not hesitate to sign up. Unlike other mentorship programs, you are only asked to meet two to three times to discuss a few discrete topics (connections can always continue after though). If you are interested in mentoring, sign up here as we’re always interested in increasing the number on our roster.
As WE members, we hope you’ve enjoyed the first quarter of 2019 and encourage you to attend events, volunteer, and meaningfully engage with fellow WE members and your broader community.
This year’s programming is intended to forward Giovanni's priorities as WE President of engaging evaluators meaningfully, particularly about issues of diversity and social justice, all while getting evaluators out into the city and their communities. We’re launching new types of professional development events, starting with our Deep Dive book club discussions, where evaluators read a short piece and then gather to discuss it. Sometimes the author will join us, as in our inaugural Deep Dive with Cheryl Abram, and others will be pure book club discussion. This event is designed to engage members more deeply with each other as well as with the latest in evaluation thought.
Another new event type we’re launching this year are Field Trips. Remember these from school? Field trips were educational yet fun and got us out into the world. Similarly, with WE’s professional Field Trips, we will learn about interesting programs around the metro area, starting with Pathways DC, a housing program. While we will not be evaluating any of these programs during our visits, Field Trips also present opportunities to promote WE’s Evaluation Without Borders program. Finally, as in previous years, we will continue to hold seminars to provide information on a variety of evaluation topics. However, this year we will highlight subjects that often receive less attention, such as teaching evaluation and environmental evaluation. All together, the variety of professional events will provide many opportunities for WE members to deepen their knowledge and grow professionally.
As for social activities and networking, we will continue to provide networking opportunities in a relaxed bar or restaurant environment. This year, however, we are holding multiple activity-based networking events, where evaluators participate in an activity followed by networking in a relaxed setting. Some activities may provide food for thought on evaluation issues, while others will be just plain fun. Look out for tours of museum exhibits relating to social issues, walking tours of neighborhoods, a knowledge-brokering game night, sport-spectating events, and our very first dragon boat race team!
We’re hoping members enjoy this year’s line-up of WE events and find them meaningful and engaging. If you have feedback on any of our events, please let us know. Also, we’re open to new ideas for WE events, so if you are interested in learning about something, giving a talk or getting feedback, or any activity at all, please let us know at email@example.com.
Melissa Chiu is the 2019 Chair of WE's Program Committee
(c) 2017 Washington Evaluators