Washington Evaluators Week: Programming for Community Engagement by Melissa Chiu

Hello, I’m Melissa Chiu, the 2019 Program Chair for Washington Evaluators (WE).

This year, the Washington Evaluators Board set priorities focusing on two broad themes: evaluation as community and evaluation in the community. Also, we particularly wanted to highlight issues of diversity and social justice, all while getting evaluators out into the city and their communities. In order to forward these priorities, we’ve been trying out three new types of programming to engage evaluators in a meaningful way. WE has received substantial positive feedback on all three program types.

District Department of Transportation host discussing interventions to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in Washington, D.C.
District Department of Transportation host discussing interventions to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in Washington, D.C.

Hot Tip #1: Field Trips

WE has held two field trips so far this year. 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 learn about interesting programs and evaluations around the Washington D.C. metro area. We started with Pathways to Housing DC, a housing program, followed by pedestrian and bicycle safety interventions with the District Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Attendees travel to locations around the city, getting us out of our comfort zones to see the city and our neighborhoods with new perspectives, while also learning about practical evaluation issues. While we don’t evaluate any of these programs during our visits, Field Trips also present opportunities to promote WE’s Evaluation Without Borders program.

Hot Tip #2: Book Club Events

WE has started holding Deep Dive book club discussions, where evaluators read a short piece and then gather to discuss it. Often, the author joins us, as with training program evaluation framework with Cheryl Abram, evaluation theory and practice with Donna Mertens, and culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE) with Mindelyn Anderson and LaShaune Johnson. Other Deep Dives can be pure book club discussion. These events are designed to engage members more deeply with each other as well as with the latest in evaluation thought.

Hot Tip #3: Museum Tours of Socially-Oriented Exhibits

Networking is an important part of any professional association. This year, WE is offering activity-based networking events where attendees go on guided tours of socially-oriented exhibits, then gather over a meal in a relaxed setting. For instance, WE has held tours on art dedicated to social justice, inclusiveness, and activism, Rockwell and Roosevelt’s four ideals of freedom, and the Vietnam War and Vietnamese refugees. These museum tours provide food for thought on social issues related to evaluation, exposing evaluators to broader issues in our neighborhoods and around the world.

All together, the variety of professional events provide many opportunities for WE members to deepen their knowledge and grow professionally, while hopefully being meaningful and engaging ways to collaborate with peers.


The American Evaluation Association is celebrating 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.

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