Chelsea Lavallee, IEM/MPA ’18

 DPMI Client Project with Root Change over the Spring Break ’17

This Spring Break, I took the opportunity to reinforce and utilize my DPMI skills in a practical setting. I headed out to Washington DC for a week long client project with seven MIIS students and Dr. Beryl Levinger. Along with one fellow MIIS student, we spent the week developing a Learning Agenda for Root Change. Root Change was founded by DPMI and MIIS adjunct professor, Evan Bloom and Claudia Liebler, and is an NGO that utilizes social network analysis to foster bottom-up participatory development approaches. Root Change recently won a USAID funded grant, “Local Works,” which will allow local citizens and NGOs the opportunity to prototype “lean experiments,” or short-term, action learning interventions that they design to help improve their own communities. Our contribution to the Local Works Learning Agenda involved strategizing ways that these lean experiments could be evaluated and how learning could be captured, both in order to satisfy USAID’s reporting requirements and to help locals understand if their community development goals are being met. My team designed research questions, indicators and operational terms for the Learning Agenda, which we presented to Root Change on the last day of Spring Break.Throughout the week-long client project, I was able to reflect on the mission of Root Change, their development philosophy and the tools they use to achieve their goals through three seminars with Dr. Levinger and my MIIS colleagues. I also gained a better understanding of what kind of skills are needed to work on monitoring, evaluation and learning teams and how I would utilize them in a real world setting. My proficiency utilizing evaluation tools increased immeasurably, as I was able to receive real-time feedback from the client, Dr. Levinger, and the other MIIS students on the trip. Ultimately I learned a lot about myself, my own values about development work and what kind of job I might want after graduation. I would recommend any MIIS student considering a career in Washington DC to participate in the DPMI Client Projects next year.

DPMI Spring Break students working with Dr. Levinger in Washington DC

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