1980s: Organizing for Evaluation
Washington Evaluators was formed in September 1984 by a group of 12 evaluators -- two years before the establishment of the American Evaluation Association. Initially led by Mike Hendricks, enthusiasm for the organization and the evaluation community in Washington, DC grew in subsequent years as Washington Evaluators expanded both in terms of membership and the types of activities and services offered.
1990s-2010s: Formalizing the Organization
In 1994, Washington Evaluators hosted its first Gala Banquet with Eleanor Chelimsky. In 1995, the first conference with the theme "Evaluation, Reinvention, and Change" was co-hosted with George Washington University. During the conference, Washington Evaluators awarded longtime member Harry Hatry with an Evaluator of the Year award. A second conference was held in 1998 with the theme of "Challenges for Today's Evaluator: Methods and Issues," co-hosted by GWU and the Government Accountability Office. The following year, Washington Evaluators launched its original website.
2010s: A Period of Rapid Growth and Expansion
Washington Evaluators approved bylaws in 2009 and incorporated as a non-profit in 2010 in Washington, DC. The bylaws originally established an elected board of a president, president elect, past president, treasurer, and secretary, each of whom served for two years. In addition, the Board was comprised of a program chair and a membership chair.
During the 2010s, Washington Evaluators rapidly grew in size. Since 2010, the organization has grown from about 100 members to more than 300 professional, student, and organizational members. Anticipating this growth, in 2010, the organization also began using membership software to facilitate improved communication with members.
In 2013, Washington Evaluators became recognized as a 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue Service. The organization established a social media presence on Twitter and LinkedIn to communicate with the broader evaluation community. 2013 also marked a year in which the American Evaluation Association hosted its conference in Washington, DC. In 2014, Washington Evaluators established the organization's first reserve fund, setting aside resources to promote long-term sustainability.
Also in 2014, Washington Evaluators conducted its first international collaboration, partnering with two central Asian voluntary organizations for professional evaluation to enhance institutional and capacity building project.
In 2015, Washington Evaluators approved substantial revisions to the organization's bylaws, including modifying the presidential term of office to one year and creating a communications chair on the Board.
Throughout the decade, Washington Evaluators expanded the number and types of activities offered to members and the local evaluation community. Activities include brownbag lunches, professional development seminars, networking events, and happy hours.
Washington Evaluators Today
In 2016, Washington Evaluators made the intentional effort to better articulate the value of membership in the organization, expanded opportunities available for graduate students and new evaluators, and promoted the active engagement of members and volunteers in supporting Washington Evaluators' activities. Building on this momentum, in 2017, Washington Evaluators updated its mission to "strengthening the evaluation community in the Washington, DC area" and approved its first formal strategic plan to guide the organization's continued development in the future.
Today, the organization has four strategic goals:
Washington Evaluators today serves the evaluation community by advocating for the growth of the evaluation profession and by fostering state-of the art knowledge and information sharing about evaluation practice. The organization currently has more than 330 members representing a diverse combination of government, non-profit, and private evaluation interests.