Remembering Sulley Gariba, Founding President of IDEAS… and so much more

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A few months ago, our dear friend Sulley Gariba shared with some of us an eternal truth: “Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.” And this, he continued with the wonderful laugh that characterizes him, despite my beliefs in facts and evidence. Sulley had a cheeky mind.

And now Sulley has passed away quietly after a short illness, in his home country Ghana, leaving us, the IDEAS community with the incredible challenge to build on his legacy and to continue to bring evaluation to the service of our communities.

As a thinker and as doer Sulley would tell us to remember him for the dreams he fulfilled, amongst which the creation of IDEAS.  As he and some thought leaders gathered in 2002 to create our Association, little did he anticipate the strengths of  IDEAS’s footprint in the evaluation community. Led by Sulley from 2002 to 2005, a core group of evaluators and policy makers planted the seed to the current vision and mission of IDEAS, to build capacities in evaluation, to advocate for evaluation and to facilitate members’ networking and engagement in evaluation activities. Sulley, we thank you all for your dedication and for your vision.

Sulley was much more than a leader in the international evaluation movement. He was also an excellent evaluation practitioner. For nearly 30 years he led and contributed to the design and implementation of systems for social policy analysis, monitoring and evaluation of poverty reduction and development effectiveness. At the policy level, he served as a senior Policy Advisor for the President of Ghana and led the development and implementation of a comprehensive development strategy for the Northern Savannah Regions of Ghana where he was born. In most recent years, he had moved to Canada to serve as Ghana’s High Commissioner to Canada (2014-2017) and, in 2019 was appointed Head of Country and Regional Program Impact for the Mastercard Foundation.

Sulley, we will miss your smartness, we will miss your insights into addressing the complexities of our world, we will miss you, a Ghanaian brother willing to lend a hand to the new generation of young evaluators.

On behalf of your IDEAS family, all of those who succeeded you as President of IDEAS, Marie-Hélène Adrien, Ray Rist, Rob D. van den Berg and Ada Ocampo wish you goodbye and pledge that individually and collective it will continue to fight for social justice in the world and for the need to bring evidence to power.

Marie-Hélène Adrien, Ray Rist, Rob D. van den Berg, Ada Ocampo

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