Washington Evaluators Week: Say Yes: Make the Time to Volunteer by Patricia Moore Shaffer

Greetings! I’m Patricia Moore Shaffer, Deputy Director for Research & Analysis, at the National Endowment for the Arts. I also lead Shaffer Evaluation Group, a woman-owned small business specializing in evaluation of educational programs. I’m also an active volunteer for two organizations, serving as President-Elect for Washington Evaluators and as a board member for the Eastern Evaluation Research Society.

I’ve been a volunteer most of my adult life. I’ve served on the boards of many professional associations, including in education, evaluation, and museums, and I’ve also been active on several community boards and committees, including a local arts commission, Communities in Schools, and a Sister Cities committee. I show up for community demonstrations and lend my voice to issues I care about. Each time I commit to a new volunteer activity, my partner rolls his eyes and says, “Do you really have time for this commitment?” “No,” I always answer, “but I’ll manage.”

I’m not alone. About 25% of Americans volunteer according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We volunteer because our actions connect us to others and help us collectively address the issues facing our communities. Volunteering on the Washington Evaluators and Eastern Evaluation Research Society boards helps me feel more socially connected to other evaluators while contributing to my field.  During my early career, volunteering for professional associations was a critical networking tool, helping me secure better positions.  Now I enjoy the satisfaction of contributing to our profession and mentoring the next generation of evaluators.

Hot Tip: Local affiliates of the AEA can be found all over the country, and these groups need your assistance to build our field. Local affiliates also provide a great opportunity to network, build your professional capital, and develop life-long friendships.

Rad Resources: Interested in a community issue and want to contribute? VolunteerMatch, Idealist, and Points of Light aim to match volunteers with appropriate organizations in their communities.

Get Involved: We’re all busy people, but there’s so much to gain personally and professionally by giving your time.  And for those of you in the Washington, DC, region, I personally challenge you to get involved in Washington Evaluators by joining our board or one of our many active committees.

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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