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Washington Evaluators Affiliate Week: Planning for Equity by Patricia Moore Shaffer

Greetings! I’m Patricia Moore Shaffer, 2021 Past President of the Washington Evaluators (WE) and Founder and Principal of Shaffer Evaluation Group. In addition to leading an educational evaluation practice, I also work as part of the Gaston-Shaffer partnership, providing strategic planning services to school districts and higher education institutions. I’ve served on the WE Board of Directors since 2017. 

WE was scheduled to update its strategic plan in 2021, providing an ideal opportunity to apply our antiracism commitments to WE’s future plans. This new strategic plan will guide the organization through 2024.

Early in 2021, WE created multiple lines of communication for members and regional evaluators to identify strategic priorities for the organization’s 2021-2024 strategic plan. WE contracted a consultant to facilitate meetings with regional evaluators on diversity, inclusion, equity, and antiracism within our local affiliate and field of practice. These virtual meetings, held in January 2021, kicked off a series of informal discussions with the evaluator community that informed the development of our strategic plan. A demographic survey with components for open-ended feedback was also distributed and completed by 61 participants through an asynchronous forum. The findings across all lines of communication revealed a clear mandate for WE to center the advancement of equity and embodiment of antiracism throughout the organization.

Several key recommendations informing our strategic plan emerged from these informal discussions:

  • Focus on recruiting diverse members and increasing access for leadership opportunities.
  • Conduct internal program evaluations for existing programs to ensure they are operationalized to advance equity within the organization and across the field of practice.
  • Center equity and antiracism across the organization, including in the leadership, community of members, and professional field of practice as an incubator of best practices.

The consultant’s report – Planning Towards Equity: Integrating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Antiracism into Washington Evaluators – was published during the summer of 2021.

With this input from our members, the WE Board worked collaboratively through online sessions to prepare the organization’s strategic plan through early summer 2021. Using an interactive whiteboard tool, board members reflected on the community’s input through an online SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results) activity and worked in small groups to develop SMART goals and objectives. Individual board members later contributed text to the strategic plan document, which was housed on the organization’s Google drive.

The final draft document was posted online for members’ feedback prior to the Board reviewing and approving the final plan in late summer 2021. The final product – the Washington Evaluators 2021-2024 Strategic Plan – is available on our website, along with an accompanying action plan.

Lesson Learned:

  • Given WE’s antiracism commitments, an important decision made by the WE Board was to commit to operating in alignment with our commitments to antiracism, integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into all elements of our work, as the guiding principle for the strategic plan.

Rad Resources:

  • Miro is a free, online whiteboard tool that made Board strategic planning fun and simple to facilitate.
  • Google Workspace for Nonprofits is a free service available to nonprofit organizations providing business apps such as Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and Drive. Through this service, WE board members have their own WE email accounts and access to a shared Drive, making collaboration much easier.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Washington Evaluators (WE) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from WE Affiliate members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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