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Member Spotlight

The membership of Washington Evaluators is as diverse as the the industries in which they serve. In celebration, WE has launched a Membership Spotlight campaign to share the professional and personal journeys of our members, learn from each other's experiences and inspire young and/or transitioning specialists.

Today's feature shares the story of one of WE's 2020 New Professional Scholarship recipients, Bryce Leary. The scholarship supports new professionals to integrate state-of-the-art knowledge and information sharing into their evaluation practices and approaches within their respective organizations and/or future practice. As part of the scholarship, Bryce will attend a course of his choosing at The Evaluators' Institute (TEI) summer program and the EnCompass Learning Center, as well as receive a complementary WE membership. 

Please join us in celebrating Bryce Leary....

Bryce Leary

Program Assistant,

American University

RPCV Senegal 2015-2017

Bryce Leary is from Falmouth, Maine, and received his BA in Political Science at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. He then spent two years in Senegal extending sustainable agricultural techniques as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Following this experience, Bryce joined the International Development Master's program at the School of International Service with a concentration in Evaluation and graduated in May 2020. Bryce is excited to use the New Professional Scholarship to jump-start his career and promote the evaluation community in Washington, DC.

Today, we ask Bryce about his scholarship experience, life as an evaluator, and more:


Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get involved in evaluation and what inspired your career?

I was first introduced to evaluation as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, where I received program design and evaluation training. As my colleagues and I worked to implement projects ranging from home gardens to regional girl’s empowerment camps, we became interested in learning about whether our programs were effective. I pursued advanced training in evaluation to support my colleagues in developing evaluation plans and understanding their results.

My career has been inspired by this idea – how do we know we are accomplishing our goals, and how do we improve our efforts?

Washington Evaluator’s ‘Next Generation 2020’ initiative focuses on students, and the New Professional Scholarship supports young professionals in the field of program evaluation. As young professional studying evaluation, please share your ideas on how the evaluation community can be strengthened and sustained in Washington DC.

This year, Washington Evaluators has done an excellent job of connecting with emerging evaluators. To further these efforts, WE should identify the common pathways people use to enter the field of evaluation, and ensure our marketing and programs engage with each of these pathways.

As a recipient of the 2020 New Professional Scholarship, you have access to an array of professional development opportunities. What are you looking forward to gaining through experience and what are you looking forward to giving to others in return?

I’m excited to attend a session at The Evaluators’ Institute, and benefit from the knowledge of experienced evaluators. I’ve also been connecting with many members of Washington Evaluators to learn about their professional journeys and all the ways in which evaluation can be incorporated into my career. I look forward to giving back to other evaluators by coordinating the Mentor Minutes program and providing personal guidance to emerging evaluators interested in a career in international development.

Please tell us about your academic journey as well as recent academic pursuits and/or focus areas.

Two years ago, I began studying International Development at the School of International Service. As a student, my favorite research projects focused broadly on the reduction of poverty. One of my most in-depth studies examined the Namibian Child Maintenance Grant and used a difference-in-differences approach to determine its effectiveness. I also completed a qualitative research project where I interviewed 16 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to determine the causal mechanisms which lead to change in volunteers.

What do you love most about being an evaluator?

I love discovering whether programs and projects are effective in creating positive change.

How long have you been a member for Washington Evaluators and why did you join?

I joined WE in July 2019 to learn more about evaluation, engage in personal and professional development, and benefit from WE networking events.

How do you plan to, or currently, promote equity in your evaluation work?  

I am involved with a national ad hoc group of evaluators who are looking at opportunities to push forward feminist and anti-racist practices in evaluation. I've been involved in conversations about how we communicate within the evaluation community. We have been looking at how we can work outside of traditional structures, such as publications, to promote new, underrepresented, or excluded voices and viewpoints. Longer-term I believe evaluators and policymakers in the international development field must rethink how we create programs and define success. Too often programs are created without the voices and input of those we seek to serve, leading to outright failure or outcomes which are not beneficial to communities. Co-creating programs and selecting outcomes with people and communities throughout the world can unlock tremendous opportunities for positive change.

What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?

I enjoy sailing, canoeing, and sea kayaking and once helped develop and manage an online video game.

What are you reading now or what is favorite book and why?

I have a lot of favorite books, but right now I am enjoying The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane. In it, the author recounts the paths he walks through landscapes, and traces the stories, history, and geography which define people and communities.

If you would like to nominate a member to be spotlighted, please send their

name, email, and a brief statement of support to communications@washingtonevaluators.org.

Washington Evaluators (WE) is 501(c)(3) organization and a local affiliate of the American Evaluation Association (AEA). Founded in 1984, Washington Evaluators is one of the oldest Voluntary Organizations for Professional Evaluation (VOPE) in the United States. Washington Evaluators supports the growth of the evaluation community and profession in the DC-area by promoting individual development of evaluation expertise, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. Washington Evaluators serves members by facilitating professional development events, networking, social interactions, as well as publication of upcoming evaluation events and opportunities in the region. The more 300 Washington Evaluators' members come from a diverse mix of federal, state, and local government agencies, universities and educational settings, corporate businesses and independent consulting firms, and nonprofit associations. 

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