I recently participated in a zoom coffee chat organized by OpenGovHub, “a co-working community in Washington D.C. and a network of organization promoting transparency, accountability, and civic engagement around the world.” I am a “hub fellow” as my host organizations, Transparency and Accountability Initiative (TAI) is part of the network. Here I am sharing a recap of that exciting conversation. 

It’s not my first time in the U.S., but first time doing a professional fellowship. My #1 biggest surprise coming to the US and working with an American host organization was to see so many organizations working in a co-working community (not merely a space, but a community). And this community has a specific focus – promoting transparency, accountability, and civic engagement around the world. I’d never worked in an environment like that before. 

I am a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Fellow at TAI, which is a donor collaborative. Donor collaboration, where several funders come together for collective learning and collaborative action, wasn’t a completely new idea for me. The international donor community in Kyrgyzstan also runs collaboration meetings around different areas of interest. What I’ve learned here is a different perspective on how this collaboration happens. TAI, as a donor collaborative, has a specific structure – it’s got funder members; the Steering Committee that provides guidance, support and oversights of work and progress; and the Secretariat coordinating participating members. TAI’s activities are guided by the strategy. Here at TAI, I feel like learning is at the core of everything. Everybody is constantly learning – both the donor members and the Secretariat team.

One example of such learning would be a project we started to help our members make sense of the “waterfall” of the COVID-19 content around Transparency, Civic Participation and Accountability (TPA) issues we’re reading as donors respond to the pandemic and its implications. We designed a limited series learning product called the COVID-19 Monitor (read my blog post about the Monitor here). The Monitor is a brief newspaper style slide deck that presents synthesis and analysis of content around TPA issues. The Monitor helps our members, other funders, and practitioners to decipher evidence and trends in the overwhelming volumes of information available. Check out our Issue 1 of the Monitor analyzing trackers around TPA-related themes.

Although we are all working remotely now, I hope to be back at the Hub shortly, exploring new opportunities and delving into new projects.