Reilly Ross is a monitoring & evaluation and reporting specialist for a USAID-funded youth development project in Ramallah. Originally from Washington State, Reilly graduated from the University of Denver with a Master’s Degree in International Relations, focused on law and human rights. After spending time in Egypt in a language program and working in international development, Reilly accepted a 1-year volunteer assignment with the USAID-funded Emerging Markets Development Advisers Program (EMDAP).
Reilly was paired with the USAID Mission in Uganda, which had designed an innovative approach to help district governments to coordinate, implement, monitor and evaluate use of donor funds within their respective districts. To be successful, they needed a full-time advisor dedicated to visiting each district to provide hands-on support and assistance. Placing a skilled, long-term advisor is normally a costly venture, but fielding an EMDAP volunteer presented significant savings that made the approach viable. Reilly coached district government leaders to help them facilitate planning, monitor and evaluate projects and report progress. She co-chaired District Management Committee (DMC) meetings in six districts and served as the USAID DMC Representative in four additional districts to ensure that all voices at the meetings – often in remote areas far from USAID’s office in Kampala – were heard. By reporting back to USAID on meeting outcomes, USAID could implement and plan development programs that incorporate local voices and needs, and are coordinated with the government of Uganda and other donors. Her consistent presence also fostered trust, collaboration and more effective development across the districts in which she worked.
The assignment exposed Reilly to a new region, a new set of issues, and fostered a passion for monitoring and evaluation. It also led to many personal discoveries and professional lessons – most importantly patience in listening and working with local leaders to solve problems.
Working with communities required me to develop patience. I needed to make connections and build the relationships.
– Reilly Ross, volunteer