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Let’s Meet Lauren Leary, Statewide External Assessment Coordinator

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under School's Out News

lauren-300We at SOWA are happy to introduce Lauren Leary to our community. Lauren is our Statewide External Assessment Coordinator, handling our small army of assessors who go to afterschool and summer providers across Washington to help them figure out what aspects of their programs need improvement.

Let’s hear from her how she found her way to SOWA, a circuitous route that started in Colorado but took her to Seattle, two countries overseas, the nation’s capital, and back to Seattle.

Where are you from?

That’s a hard question to answer. I am most recently from Washington DC and before that I lived in Armenia, Seattle, Colorado, and Singapore. Colorado is where I grew up though!

What do you like to do in your own time?

I try to get out to the mountains or be in nature as often as I possibly can. I like to backpack, hike, climb, ski, kayak, bike, and do anything and everything outside. I am also a photographer and am most passionate about wildlife and landscape photography. I have enjoyed photographing many events, but feel the most alive and inspired when I am in nature with my camera and can slow down and see the world from unique perspectives. I enjoy gardening, try to practice yoga on a regular basis, and like to go to concerts or watch live concerts from my couch with a glass of wine in hand.

What brought you to SOWA?

I had lived in Seattle for a couple of years right after college before I joined the Peace Corps. After completing my service in Armenia, I was accepted into graduate school in Washington DC where I focused on program monitoring and evaluation and worked at the National Science Foundation. After a while I got an itch to move out West again as I have always been drawn to the mountains and nature of the Pacific Northwest.

I wanted to find an organization to work with that shared my values around education, evaluation, community relations, and equity. I had worked as an after school program manager and volunteer coordinator at Horn of Africa Services here in Seattle and the experience could not have aligned better with my current position at SOWA, which was created to strengthen afterschool and summer program quality assessment systems. My interest is in non-profit management, data collection, ICT4D, and evaluation, and my new position allows me to come full circle and acquire a holistic perspective on the field of monitoring and evaluation around education programming. It’s nice to work somewhere that places a high value on relationships and community building. SOWA already feels like home!

Tell us one thing you are proud of.

I am proud of my little host sister in Armenia for placing high in the national poetry contest this year. When I first met her, she knew little English and was very shy to speak. She has improved significantly, feels more confident with her speaking skills, and has gotten involved with various volunteer opportunities that have allowed her to travel outside of the country for the first time ever. Her world has expanded because of hard work and persistence and I am grateful and proud to be a part of her journey.

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