Inspiration from Marrakesh by Sarah Farina

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The well-organized and visionary Francophone evaluation network (RFE) conference in Marrakesh was an inspiration for me as Co-Chair of this year’s Canadian Evaluation Society Conference.  I had the good fortune to connect with the President of host organization Moroccan Evaluation Association, Jamal Ramdane, Jean-Marie Loncle from the Francophone evaluation network, and Program Coordinator Mouna el Ghormli from the Moroccan Evaluation Association, who gracefully shared their insights on organizing a successful conference with me. 

The conference brought together attendees from over 20 countries, representing an array of sectors that was both diverse and distinct from what I’ve seen at CES.  Their focus on institutions in government, parliament and government audit made for an interesting mix.  High-level government presenters talked about how they are institutionalizing evaluation. This was not evaluators as outsiders looking in, but rather institutions conceptualizing evaluation as a core function. The discussion led me to reflect on questions of evaluation use and our conference theme.  Ultimately, conversations about innovation, action and reflection in evaluation are motivated not only by our intrinsic desire to use evaluation to innovate and improve, but we are also called to serve societal needs, which was a theme underlying the discourse at the RFE conference.

There was a place at the RFE conference to strengthen the role of Voluntary Organizations for Professional Evaluation (VOPEs); this inspired us to issue an invitation to volunteer organizations in Canada, CES Chapter Councils and CES Board Members, to come together during CES 2017 to become familiar with the work that each of us is doing, build relationships, and find opportunities to collaborate.

There was also a focus at the RFE conference on supporting emerging evaluators.  The network of francophone emerging evaluators (RF-Ee) was officially launched at the CES conference in Montreal, and continues to play a leadership role in supporting emerging evaluators.  Our own CES BC and Yukon (CESBCY) Chapter’s Michelle Naimi has played a leadership role for us locally in supporting student and emerging evaluators, and is now joined by Carolyn Camman, as a conference volunteer and new CESBCY Council Member.  Under Michelle’s leadership, CESBCY initiated a number of student activities, including student events, student presentations, student bursaries, and mentoring programs.  We are bringing that spirit to the CES 2017 conference, in alignment with the international work being done by CES and other international groups, to recognize the important role of students and emerging evaluators in the future of our profession.

The RFE conference also supported dialogue about innovations in evaluation methodology, and key areas of international significance, including human rights and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  We know that presenters are bringing their own innovations, action and reflection as the basis for discussion in Vancouver, and we are building in novel networking events to support lively conversations.

Finally, I’m proud to report a great deal of interest internationally in the CE, as CES has played an important leadership role in the professionalization of evaluation.  I am grateful for the inspiring discussions and ideas at the RFE conference. I look forward to building on that inspiration and contributing to the momentum in our field at CES 2017.

Read the proceedings (in French) here: http://www.portail-rfe.org/ressources-du-fife2

Sarah Farina specializes in planning, evaluation and governance with Broadleaf Consulting.  She serves as President of the Canadian Evaluation Society BC and Yukon Chapter, and Co-Chair of the CES 2017 Conference in Vancouver.