The team at the Center for Evaluation Innovation (CEI) couldn’t be more excited to welcome Dr. Chera Reid as Director of the Evaluation Roundtable, beginning October 1, 2020.
Founded in 1989 by philanthropic evaluation leader Patti Patrizi, the Evaluation Roundtable is a network of evaluation and learning leaders from over 130 foundations in the U.S. and Canada focused on improving the practice of evaluation and strategic learning in philanthropy. CEI has been coordinating the Evaluation Roundtable since 2012.
Chera takes over the Evaluation Roundtable’s leadership at a pivotal time in its evolution. Over the last 30 years, the Roundtable has served as a preeminent resource for peer learning about cutting-edge philanthropic evaluation and learning practice. Going forward, the Roundtable will focus on organizing participants to influence the philosophy and norms of practice in philanthropy so that evaluation and learning:
- help to advance racial equity and justice
- create channels for people—particularly those who historically and structurally have been excluded from decision making about public resources—to participate in, and influence decisions about, the interventions and systems affecting their lives
- increase the ability of foundations, nonprofits, and other change agents to navigate and transform the complex dynamics that shape our world.
As Director, Chera will lead the development of this new vision and serve as its chief designer, organizer, and champion. With the support of CEI staff, this will include collaborative visioning and agenda-setting with Roundtable participants and sector actors—across strategy, learning, evaluation, and beyond—who are working toward a similar vision of philanthropy as a force for racial equity and social justice.
While foundation evaluation and learning leaders will remain the Roundtable’s core audience, creating the conditions in which these practitioners can successfully advance equitable evaluation also will require engaging with others who influence the way philanthropy works, including boards who bring expectations about accountability, CEOs and executive staff who set practice standards and shape culture, program staff who make choices about strategy, evaluation consultants who operationalize and either reinforce or challenge common practices, and racial equity champions who bring healthy skepticism to white dominant frames.
Chera brings with her the commitment, values, experience, relationships, and strategic orientation necessary for organizing the Roundtable network to contribute meaningfully to this larger movement for equity and justice in philanthropy, while also partnering with evaluation and learning leaders who are innovating in their own institutions.
Chera comes to the Roundtable after serving as Director of Strategic Learning, Research and Evaluation at the Kresge Foundation. In that role, she guided one of the nation’s largest private foundations to become an intentional learning organization rooted in values of equity and opportunity. Chera is a visionary leader who is experienced at leveraging data to inform grantmaking and social investing strategies. At Kresge, she brought an equity frame to evaluative thinking, which she applied to the Foundation’s learning agenda around place-based practice, collaboration across fields and sectors, and measurement. She also co-led foundation-wide efforts to raise consciousness about race and the impact of structural racism as the foundation made a comprehensive commitment to advancing equity.
Chera has a longstanding commitment to liberation for Black and brown people and historically disinvested communities. As a founding member of Kresge’s Opportunity Fund team, she built a grantmaking portfolio focused on building political power for, and civic engagement of, low-income and communities of color. Chera previously was a program officer with the Education Program, working to increase college access and success for underserved students.
Before joining Kresge, Chera worked at MDRC, where she focused on ensuring that all students have access to quality public education and can pursue a college education that matches their needs regardless of their family income. She also has held leadership positions at New York Needs You and the Phillips Academy Andover Institute for Recruitment of Teachers, programs that expand educational and career opportunities for first-generation, low-income, and students of color.
Chera earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia, a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from New York University. She serves on several nonprofit, higher education, and civic advisory boards, including the Equity Center at the University of Virginia, Tulane University Public Administration Program, and Phillips Academy Institute for Recruitment of Teachers.