Sarah Parkinson

Sarah Parkinson is the principal of Attuned. She has over twelve years of experience in research for development and evaluation, including the evaluation of research for development initiatives. She headed internal evaluation strategy at the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit from 2008 to 2011. More recently, she has completed a book called Finding a Way in International Development: Options for Ethical and Effective Work, which synthesises insights from 153 semi-structured interviews with international development practitioners. The resulting piece offers advice to those working in international development on how they can navigate the complexities of the development sector to be more effective in their own work.

Since late 2012, Sarah has worked as a research and evaluation consultant, leading or collaborating on teams evaluating programmes for clients including the Canadian federal government, the MasterCard Foundation, and the Aga Khan Foundation, and USAID, amongst others.

Prior to her consulting work, Sarah’s career has focused on evaluation, research for development and organizational learning. At the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU, from 2008-11), Sarah wrote logical frameworks, and designed and led implementation of an internal assessment of how to maximize impact of research work. At the International Development Research Centre (IDRC, from 2003-4), Sarah appraised proposals for evaluations, and designed and carried out several major evaluations, including a multi-project assessment of telecentres in Uganda and South Africa, and the final summative evaluation of the joint ITU/UNESCO/IDRC multipurpose telecentre project spanning 5 African countries. In both Masters (2002-3) and PhD (2004-8) work, Sarah evaluated program goals and logic versus results. Key stakeholders were consulted in designing the research, and emerging results were shared with them to facilitate institutional learning. Sarah received an A+ in Program Evaluation Master’s course and was a member of the winning team for the 2002 Canadian Evaluation Society’s National Student Case Competition. Sarah has extensive experience in training and mentoring junior staff and developing tools and resources for research and evaluation teams, in addition to bringing expertise in designing and facilitating collective processes of planning, problem analysis, and knowledge sharing through roundtables, workshops and other platforms.

Sarah has authored two books, seven peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous other publications on international development and organizational learning. Sarah holds a PhD in Rural Studies, a Certificate in Community Economic Development and a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science from Simon Fraser University.

Associates & Collaborators

Attuned works in association and collaboration with a number of other evaluation consultants and consulting firms on larger projects or those requiring a blend of expertise. These include Advisem, Social Impact and Checchi Consulting.