2021 Board of Directors & Leadership
The Washington Evaluators is managed by a Board of Directors as well as dozens of volunteers. Five voting Board positions are elected (unless filled by appointment due to vacancy). The Presidential cycle is three years, with the elected individual serving first as President-Elect, and then assuming the role of President, and then Past President. The Treasurer and Secretary positions are held for two years. Four other voting Board positions are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Board. The 2021 Board members, as well as other Washington Evaluators leaders and volunteers, are listed below.
Beeta Tahmassebi is the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at EnCompass LLC. In addition to running The EnCompass Learning Center (ELC), a globally recognized evaluation and development training center, she oversees EnCompass’ Knowledge Management and Communications team, and manages evaluations and capacity-strengthening projects around the world. Ms. Tahmassebi has had the privilege of working as an evaluator across a wide range of client systems and organizations, from groups such as Save the Children and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to government agencies such as USAID, the State Department, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, UN Women, and the World Food Programme. Ms. Tahmassebi holds a Bachelor of Arts from Johns Hopkins University and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. In addition to her work with Washington Evaluators, Ms. Tahmassebi is a frequent presenter at American Evaluation Association conferences, and a member of the SIKM Leaders Community.
Patricia Moore Shaffer, Ph.D., Past President
National Endowment for the Arts
Patricia Moore Shaffer is the deputy director for research & analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts and serves as agency lead for evaluation and performance measurement. Prior to joining the NEA, Patricia served as the evaluation manager for NASA’s Office of Education and vice president for research & development at the Educational Policy Institute. Patricia also owns Shaffer Evaluation Group, a small evaluation firm that specializes in educational evaluation studies and evaluation capacity-building. Patricia earned a Ph.D. in Educational Policy, Planning and Leadership at the College of William & Mary, a M.A. in Curriculum Studies at the University of Toronto, and also holds a bachelors degree in the visual arts. Prior to her term as President of Washington Evaluators, Patricia held several evaluation leadership positions: WE Communications Committee Chair for two terms, Eastern Evaluation Research Society board member, AEA Program Design TIG leadership committee member, and treasurer for the Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching Effectiveness.
Emily Bango, President-Elect
Emily is a regional monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning (MERL) specialist at Internews. In this role she manages and continually improves the research, learning and evaluation methodologies and systems that measure the results and overall impact of Internews projects implemented in Latin America and Caribbean (LAC). She brings over ten years of experience leading project management and monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) efforts for human rights and international development programs with a longstanding regional focus in LAC. In her current role, she utilizes skills and perspectives developed through prior work with other U.S.-based international NGOs, at the U.S. Department of State, and as an independent evaluator and MERL consultant. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree from the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Melissa Chiu, Secretary
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Melissa C. Chiu is Director of Analytics in the Office of Data Governance and Analytics, Office of Enterprise Integration at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She also serves as the VA Statistical Official at the Interagency Council for Statistical Policy (ICSP) and the VA SAOGI at the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). Working collaboratively with stakeholders from government, private sector organizations, and the public, she is responsible for leadership and strategic improvements on analytics and evidence to support Veterans' well-being, enterprise-wide data analytics and governance policy; and data management and acquisition for the USVETS integrated database. Prior to joining VA, Ms. Chiu worked for the Census Bureau, where she expanded and promoted the data linkage infrastructure to increase the use of integrated data in high quality research for evidence-based decision making. She also oversaw data production, analysis, dissemination, and methodological research for varied subjects, including labor force and occupation; race, immigration, and gender; veterans; commuting, transportation, and disability; immigration and geographic mobility; and administrative records. She also briefly served in the Office of Management and Budget’s Statistical and Science Policy Branch, working on federal statistical policy, particularly regarding the use of administrative records for statistical purposes. Ms. Chiu holds graduate degrees in sociology (University of California, Los Angeles) and statistics (University of Washington), and bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and in statistics (University of Michigan).
Jessica Pomerantz, Treasurer
U.S. Agency for International Development
Jessica Pomerantz is a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist with USAID’s Middle East Bureau. Before working at USAID, she was an internal evaluator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Prior to government service, Jessica was a business journalist for Albuquerque Business First and operations manager for an agribusiness in New Mexico specializing in green chile peppers. Jessica formerly served as the assistant to the permanent observer for the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance at the United Nations and in the evaluation unit of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in Kabul, Afghanistan. She has a masters degree in public administration, international development, from the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs and a BA in political science and economics from the University of New Mexico.
Katherine Braga, Communications Committee Chair
U.S. Agency for International Development
Katherine is a Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning Specialist with USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, contracted through Jefferson Solutions.
Previously, Katherine served as a Monitoring & Evaluation Associate with PYXERA Global. In this capacity, she supported the organization’s Global Pro Bono practice area through impact measurement and management of M&E portfolios for several Fortune 500 client companies. Prior to her work in the non-profit sector, Katherine worked for four years at the United States Department of Agriculture where her focus areas included rural development and utilities, women in agriculture as well as faith-based and neighborhood partnerships. From 2011-2013, she served with the Peace Corps in Ukraine as a TEFL Volunteer and USAID Small Project Assistance Program Specialist.
Katherine holds an MA from American University in International Relations as well as a BA from the University of Michigan where she double majored in Comparative Religion and English Language & Literature. She is proficient in Russian and Portuguese and holds a private pilot certificate.
Kantahyanee Murray, PhD, Community Engagement Chair
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Dr. Kantahyanee Murray is a Senior Research Associate in the Research, Evaluation, Evidence and Data (REED) unit of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She plans, commissions, and manages evaluations in the areas of youth and family well-being, evidence-based practice, and community safety. Kantahyanee helped design the Expanding the Bench (ETB) initiative in 2014, led its implementation, and facilitated transition of ETB to a field supported initiative in 2018. She manages a portfolio to build REED’s capacity to apply racial and ethnic equity and inclusion approaches in evaluation grantmaking, planning and execution. Kantahyanee’s collaborative evaluation work is grounded in strategies that seek equitable outcomes including approaches that center culture, context, and community; engage and share power with community members; and elevate data access and use across diverse stakeholders.
Natalie Donahue, Membership Committee Chair
U.S. Department of State
Natalie Donahue is currently the Chief of Evaluation in the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) where she directs the monitoring and evaluation of educational and exchange programming. She also serves as an adjunct at American University in the School of International Service. Previously, Natalie served as a Senior M&E Specialist for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs' Assistance Coordination Office (NEA/AC), where she was responsible for advising staff and grantees on program design and monitoring activities, designing and managing evaluations, and leading capacity-building efforts within the Bureau. Prior to joining the Department of State, she served as DevTech Systems, Inc’s Director of Business Development, where she provided technical assistance on various Department of State M&E-related projects. A proud Columbus, Ohio native, Natalie has a Master's in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Marketing – both from The Ohio State University.
Esther C. Nolton, PhD, Program Committee Chair