“In college I remember thinking, ‘Why isn’t social science being used to make better public policy and to make better decisions that would make people lives better?’ At ORS Impact we work to make that happen on a daily basis.”
Sarah Stachowiak is passionate about evaluation – a systematic method that combines inquiry and the strategic use of data to facilitate better decision-making and ultimately greater impact for social change.
Sarah’s incisive mind, technical skills, effectiveness with clients, and prodigious work ethic all contributed to her rise through the ranks at ORS Impact to her current role as CEO. And her leadership has been a major force in expanding the influence of strategic evaluation to become a driving force for positive social innovation and problem solving.
She’s partnered with large foundations, non-profits, and governmental agencies to custom design evaluation and measurement programs leading to learning that strengthens initiatives at all levels. Her work helps social innovators develop meaningful measurements that answer questions such as:
- Are we achieving the outcomes we expect?
- How can we learn and improve our work along the way?
- How we can better understand hard to measure work, like systems change and advocacy?
Sarah has a wide range of experience working with clients serving diverse populations in areas including early childhood, advocacy and policy change, community development, K-12 education, the environment, public health, libraries, and alcohol and drug prevention.
A respected facilitator, trainer, and coach, Sarah helps organizations transform evaluation work into broader learning initiatives that help define next strategies and spur new understanding about sustainability and capacity building. She assists groups in breaking work into bite-sized pieces by providing a crisper articulation of strategies and focusing on measurable outcomes in real time. She helps her clients explore how meaningful change will look in both the short and long term.
Sarah sees her role as a “critical best friend” assessing goals and initiatives from an outside perspective – and suggesting that clients consider “doubling down” on current efforts, or alternatively, take a hard look at outdated assumptions that may be diluting the work.
Some clients worry that evaluation is a backward-looking endeavor doing little more than highlighting past mistakes, but under Sarah’s direction evaluation provides information that illuminates effective methods for moving forward as well as efficient ways for modifying less successful approaches.
Most of all, Sarah hates to see those who strive for the greater good spend precious time and resources on ineffective, unproductive work. “If organizations don’t use data to understand and improve their work, it’s a loss for everybody.”
Sarah’s ORS clients past and present include:
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Annie E. Casey Foundation
- David and Lucile Packard Foundation
- William & Flora Hewlett Foundation
- Alliance for Early Success
- Washington State Department of Health
- Child Care Resources
- Chalkboard Project
- Public Library Association
- Statewide child advocacy organizations
Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington’s Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs.
Research Associate at the University of Washington’s Center for the Study and Teaching of At-Risk Students, in program evaluation and project management.