AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

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Hello! My name is Amelia Ruerup, I am Tlingit, originally from Hoonah, Alaska although I currently reside in Fairbanks, Alaska.  I have been working part-time in evaluation for over a year at Evaluation Research Associates and have spent approximately five years developing my understanding of Indigenous Evaluation through the mentorship and guidance of Sandy Kerr, Maori from New Zealand.  I consider myself a developing evaluator and continue to develop my understanding of what Indigenous Evaluation means in an Alaska Native context.

I have come to appreciate that Alaska Natives are historic and contemporary social innovators who have always evaluated to determine the best ways of not only living, but thriving in some of the most dynamic and at times, harshest conditions in the world.  We have honed skills and skillfully crafted strict protocols while cultivating rich, guiding values.  The quality of our programs, projects, businesses and organizations is shaped by our traditions, wisdom, knowledge and values.  It is with this lens that Indigenous Evaluation makes sense for an Alaska Native context as a way to establish the value, worth and merit of our work where Alaska Native values and knowledge both frame and guide the evaluation process.

Amidst the great diversity within Alaska Native cultures we share certain collective traditions and values.  As Alaska Native peoples, we share a historical richness in the use of oral narratives.  Integral information, necessary for thriving societies and passing on cultural intelligence, have long been passed on to the next generation through the use of storytelling. It is also one commonality that connects us to the heart of Indigenous Evaluation.  In the Indigenous Evaluation Framework book, the authors explain that, “Telling the program’s story is the primary function of Indigenous evaluation…Evaluation, as story telling, becomes a way of understanding the content of our program as well as the methodology to learn from our story.” To tell a story is an honor.  In modern Alaska Native gatherings, we still practice the tradition of certain people being allowed to speak or tell stories.  This begs the question: Who do you want to tell your story and do they understand the values that are the foundation and framework for your program?  

Hot Tip: Context before methods.  It is essential to understand the Alaska Native values and traditions that are the core of Alaska Native serving programs, institutions and organizations.  Indigenous Evaluation is an excellent approach to telling our stories.

Rad Resource: The Alaskool website hosts a wealth of information on Alaska Native cultures and values.  This link will take you to a map of “Indigenous Peoples and Languages of Alaska”

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Alaska Evaluation Network Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AKEN members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hi! We are Morgan J Curtis (independent consultant) and Strong Oak Lafebvre (executive director of Visioning BEAR Circle Intertribal Coalition).  Along with Patrick Lemmon (independent consultant), we have the good fortune of serving as the evaluation team for the Walking in Balance (WIB) initiative.

WIB is an innovative approach to violence prevention that focuses on 12 important indigenous values that encourage better harmony with other people and the land. The primary component of WIB is a 13-session curriculum that is built on a Circle Process and that, with some adaptations, can be focused on different populations. The Circle Process involves storytelling and sharing by all participants, including the Circle Keeper who serves to move the conversation forward. A teaching team of four, seated in the four directions, diminishes the role of a single expert and promotes Circle members talking with each other rather than to the Circle Keeper.

Lessons Learned: This program presents many exciting evaluation opportunities and challenges. One of the challenges is ensuring that the evaluation is both culturally responsive and methodologically sound. As part of this challenge, all members of the evaluation team are located in different cities and the evaluation consultants have all been white folks. This process has included much trial and error in our collaborative process and in the evaluation methodologies themselves. The team wanted to design an evaluation that aligned with the program’s principles and also integrated into the circle process as seamlessly as possible. We currently have a pre and post question for each session; participants write their answers on notecards and share aloud with the circle, which flows well with the storytelling focus of the circles.  Additional questions at the beginning and end of the Circle invite participants to share aloud how each session transformed them and ways continued engagement in the Circle impacts their lives. We capture responses from all parties to track how the Circle Process transforms both the teaching team and participants.  The VBCIC teaching team loves the seamless nature of the evaluation process and finds that checking in about what happens between sessions captures changes in behavior based on learning directly linked to Circle teachings.

Hot Tip: Listening plays a key role in both the Circle Process itself and in developing the evaluation. We have established a process of following the lead of the Visioning BEAR team both by listening intently to their struggles and hopes and also by offering options for how to tweak the evaluation. They move forward with what feels right to them and report back to us. Then, we keep tweaking. We are working to make the data analysis and interpretation processes more collaborative as we move forward, too.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

My name is Art Hernandez and I am a Visiting Professor at University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.

I participated in the second yearlong experience of the AEA Minority Serving Institutions Fellowship program and have served as the Director for several cohorts most recently this past year.  I teach and practice Evaluation and am very interested in the operationalization of and the development of metrics related to cultural responsiveness in practice.   I am a member of the Indigenous, Multicultural and La Red TIGS (Topical Information Groups).

Lesson Learned:

Evaluation theory and practice (including issues and ideas related to Cultural Responsiveness) is constantly evolving and developing.  A unique academic and professional discipline, Evaluation is informed by advances in and elaborations of the “state of the science and art” of inquiry constructed from a variety of scientific and social scientific disciplines. The result is that its “expert” practitioners and theorists must be familiar with and consider diverse literature from an ever widening range of disciplines and be prepared to challenge and revise their thinking and practice.  This year’s cohort recognized the need for multi- and interdisciplinary thinking in Evaluation realizing the benefits and sharing their discoveries.

Hot Tip:  

“Expert” Evaluators recognize and endeavor to learn as much as possible related to the great variety of modes of inquiry recognizing the connection of this to the multiple ways of knowing and its importance as one way to assure cultural responsiveness.

Rad Resources:

Aidan Kenny (2006).  Evaluation: Emergence, Mode of Inquiry, Theory & Practice.  https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=946402 (Retrieved 12-14-16)

Bijal A Balasubramanian; Deborah J Cohen; Melinda M Davis; Rose Gunn; L Miriam Dickinson; William L Miller; Benjamin F Crabtree and Kurt C Stange (2015).  Implementation Science 10:31.  DOI: 10.1186/s13012-015-0219-z

http://implementationscience.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13012-015-0219-z (Retrieved 12-14-16)

The American Evaluation Association is AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship Experience week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s MSI Fellows. For more information on the MSI fellowship, see this webpage: http://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=230 Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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My name is Jennifer Dewey, and I am a Senior Director with Walter R. McDonald and Associates, Inc. (WRMA). Over the years, I have worked for organizations that receive a substantial amount of business in health and human services from Federal, state, and local-level entities. A key method to obtaining this work is partnering with subcontractors and consultants to respond to requests for proposals, or RFPs.

“Prime” responders (those who will take 51% or more of the work) look to subcontractors (an organization) and independent consultants (an individual) to enhance their bids. Subcontractors and consultants do this by providing content or technical knowledge that the prime doesn’t have enough of, or doesn’t have at all. For example, a history of working with certain populations (e.g. military and veterans, indigenous peoples) or specialized statistical expertise (e.g., social network analysis). Subcontractors and consultants may enhance a bid by being based in one or more locations where the project will take place, bringing their knowledge of the local government, population(s), and community structure to the work.

Many of these partnerships are generated through networking, where a prime representative knows an independent consultant or staff member at a potential subcontractor that can bring the needed knowledge and skills to an RFP response.

Rad Resource: Familiarize yourself with available Federal contract vehicles, such as AHRQ (www.ahrq.gov), CDC (www.cdc.gov), GSA MOBIS (www.gsa.gov), HHS PSC (www.ngsservices.com/program_support_center.html) HRSA (www.hrsa.gov), SAMHSA (www.samhsa.gov), and others to learn about past and future contracts. Consulting organizations often list their contract vehicles on their website.

Hot Tip: Make yourself and/or your organization easy to find through LinkedIn profiles with direct contact information, and websites with detailed descriptions of services, projects, and staff member qualifications.

Once you establish a partnership, prove your worth by delivering high-quality, timely work as part of the RFP process. Brainstorming and generating ideas about the scope of work, while challenging in itself, is easy compared to the business of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

Hot Tip: Leverage your unique subject matter expertise and technical knowledge by being a thinking partner with the prime, helping them understand and work through the challenges implicit in the project. As requested, follow up with well-written tasks that address the RFP’s evaluation criteria within the allotted page count.

Hot Tip: Cement your value by providing professional bios, resumes, project examples, and organizational capacity statements per the prime’s timeline and in the requested format.

Primes view subcontractor and independent consultant contributions to the RFP process as a litmus test for contract performance. Whether the bid is won or lost, high performance will increase your opportunities for future work.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Independent Consulting TIG Week with our colleagues in the IC AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

This is part of a two-week series honoring our living evaluation pioneers in conjunction with Labor Day in the USA (September 5).

Greetings, I am Melvin Hall, a current AEA Board Member and program evaluation specialist for over forty years. I have had many excellent mentors throughout my career including Tom Hastings, Bob Stake, Terry Denny, and Ernie House.

Why I chose to honor this evaluator:

In this series to honor living evaluators I wish to honor Karen Kirkhart, as both a leading scholar and a person who has demonstrated a commitment to social justice, making the field more engaged with and respectful of human cultural and values diversity.

Pioneering and enduring contributions:

As a scholar, Karen is a tenaciously brilliant thinker who has permanently altered the evaluation literature with her introduction of multicultural validity as a central concern for quality practice. Under the banner of evaluation influence, she additionally has effectively woven together the practical understanding of how evaluation functions as a tool of society; and in that regard, argued effectively for turning the spotlight on power and privilege that generates and maintains inequity across social institutions and interactions.

An early failure of evaluation as a profession was its unease with matters of context. While known to be central to the functioning of programs and services evaluated, the field was not equipped to think well about how to handle context in practice. Karen’s work has centered cultural context in discussion of quality practice. Working through these issues with indigenous communities and others less well served by evaluation, Karen’s legacy affirms the ethical imperative to be responsive to all stakeholders to an evaluation…not just the privileged and powerful.

As a former AEA President and thought leader in the field, Karen has provided pivotal guidance and influence to important AEA initiatives. This includes the cultural reading of the Program Evaluation standards that informed the most recent revision; development of the AEA Statement on Cultural Competence; and co-developing significant published scholarship with evaluators of color bringing new and important voices into focus for the profession.

Whenever there is acknowledgement of the present and improved state of the profession, it is easy for me to see woven into the past several years of progress, the steady hand of influence provided by Karen Kirkhart. I am one whose career trajectory was elevated by her friendship and mentoring, and thus feel honored to prompt this recognition by others.

Resources:

Kirkhart, Karen E. “Seeking Multicultural Validity: A Postcard from the Road.Evaluation Practice, Vol.16, No.1, 1995, pp. 1-12.

Hood, S., Hopson, R., and Kirkhart, K. (2015). Culturally Responsive Evaluation: Theory, practice, and future implications. In Newcomer, K. and Hatry, H (Eds.). Handbook on Practical Program Evaluation (4th ed.) (pp. 281-317). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Labor Day Week in Evaluation: Honoring Evaluation’s Living Pioneers. The contributions this week are tributes to our living evaluation pioneers who have made important contributions to our field and even positive impacts on our careers as evaluators. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

 

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This is part of a series remembering and honoring evaluation pioneers leading up to Memorial Day in the USA (May 30).

I am Rodney Hopson, Professor of Education Policy and Evaluation at George Mason University and former (2012) President of AEA. Asa G. Hillard III (Baffour Amankwatia II), is one of the evaluation pioneers documented in the Nobody Knows My Name (named after a book by James Baldwin) Project that uncovers the untold contributions of African American educational researchers and evaluators in the United States during the pre-Brown v. Board era. While Hilliard’s major work did not take place pre-Brown, he is a name associated with the Nobody Knows My Name Project and is a name that all evaluators should know.

Trained as an educational psychologist (University of Denver, 1963), Hilliard’s research and practice spanned educational policy, special education, anthropology, child development, and classical African civilizations, Hilliard was one of the first African Americans to provide a keynote at the American Evaluation Association conference (in 1988). Hilliard’s presentation was later published in Evaluation Practice (the precursor to the American Journal of Evaluation) in 1989 and provided ways for evaluators to think differently about data visualization, truth and evidence and the implications for cross-cultural evaluators.   In recent years, the American Evaluation Association has sponsored Think Tank sessions at its annual conference in his honor previously co-sponsored by Indigenous Peoples, MultiEthnic and Social Work Topical Interest Groups to introduce his practice to AEA members and conference goers.

Asa G. Hilliard

Asa G. Hilliard

When names like Ralph Tyler, Robert Ingle, and Marcia Guttentag are remembered, so should those like Reid E. Jackson, Asa Hilliard, and Rose Butler Browne. Their cumulative scholarship and evaluation agenda-setting both laid a foundation for policies, legislation, and counter-narratives that challenged the racial hegemony and institutional segregation that existed in the United States and contributed to the intellectual development of democratic, equitable, and culturally responsive evaluation more generally.

References and Resources:

American Psychological Association. (2016) Featured Psychologist: Asa Hilliard, III, PhD. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/psychologists/asa-hilliard.aspx

Hilliard, A. G. (1989). Kemetic (Egyptian) historical revision: Implications for cross-cultural        evaluation and research in education. Evaluation Practice, 10(2), 7–23.

Hood, S. (2001). Nobody knows my name: In praise of African American evaluators who were    responsive. New Directions for Evaluation, 92, 31–43

Hood, S. & Hopson, R.K. (2008). Evaluation roots reconsidered: Asa Hilliard, a Fallen Hero in   the “Nobody Knows My Name” Project, and African Educational Excellence. Review of      Educational Research, 78(3), 410-426.

Hood, S., Hopson, R., and Kirkhart, K. (2015). Culturally Responsive Evaluation: Theory,        practice, and future implications. In Newcomer, K. and Hatry, H (Eds.). Handbook on           Practical Program Evaluation (4th ed.) (pp. 281-317). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Memorial Week in Evaluation: Remembering and Honoring Evaluation’s Pioneers. The contributions this week are remembrances of evaluation pioneers who made enduring contributions to our field. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Greetings. My name is Tiffeny Jimenez and I identify first as a Community Psychologist (CP). I am also an Assistant Professor of the Community Psychology Doctoral program at National Louis University in Chicago. As a CP, I inherently very quickly identify inequalities, injustices, and potential for collaboration where others may be more likely to see only conflict, and from this perspective, evaluation is a particularly salient and necessary skill set. How else might we judge whether social justice is achieved? It is towards this aim that I take on all inquiry and action. This year, I have had the privilege to be one of this year’s MSI Fellows where I have worked with colleagues towards gaining an in-depth interdisciplinary perspective on the state of our understanding Cultural Competence across Social Work, Health Psychology, Sociology, and Community Psychology. I will speak to the contribution of CP to this focus area.

Lesson Learned: The overall CP framework facilitates cultural competency and humility in all acts of professionalism with explicit emphasis on how we think and why we act in certain ways within a socio-cultural ecological context. CP views cultural competency as cross-cultural awareness assuming we all are interdependent and come to the table with diverse cultural lenses that influence action. Cultural competency is a critical consciousness beyond the acquisition of skills; it’s a way of being in every day interactions that allows for a clearer understanding of one’s own personal place in the world, personal biases, and an understanding that multiple perspectives are present at any one time.

The emphasis of CP is on promoting social justice and identifying the root causes of social problems by changing conditions so diverse populations can thrive individually within a shared geography. Much of the literature on cultural competency centers around: providing in-depth localized case examples of how CPs engage as equal peers with others to address individual and social problems from a culturally grounded perspective; describe adaptations of community programming to meet the needs of underserved populations; discuss the importance of using methods that capture historical context and the voices of less dominant perspectives; emphasize the promotion of dynamic processes within community-level systems rather than individual-level outcomes; and advocate understanding the cultural landscape that undergirds the various policies and practices that perpetuate inequalities and maintain the status quo. Main concepts: power, privilege, structural inequality, decolonizing methodologies, organizational culture, critical consciousness, liberation, indigenous psychologies, divergent cultural practices, and ecological sustainability.

Rad Resources: For more information on being culturally competent, see “Community Psychology: Foundations for Practice” (2015). Particularly Chapter 4 by Kien Lee titled “Effecting Social Change in Diverse Contexts”. The Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice also addresses cultural competency in CP practice from a global perspective: http://www.gjcpp.org/en/article.php?issue=16&article=77

The American Evaluation Association is AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship Experience week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s MSI Fellows. For more information on the MSI fellowship, see this webpage: http://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=230 Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

We are Dr. Maria Jimenez, Independent Evaluation Consultant in Los Angeles, CA, and Andrea Guajardo, MPH, Director of Community Health at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System in San Antonio, TX, core members of the newly formed LARED TIG network.

The inaugural business meeting of the LA RED TIG was held at AEA 2015 in Chicago. At this event, LA RED members reviewed strategic plans, developed working groups, and recognized key members. Strategic plans involved revisiting core goals and objectives. Working groups reported on key areas including Mentoring & Professional Development Oppportunities and Membership & Member Engagement. Lastly, Dr. Arthur Hernandez, Dean of the College of Education at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, was recognized with an award for his support and leadership in the formation of the TIG and presence at AEA. What follows is a review of the LA RED’s membership, future directions, and tips for how to get involved.

LA RED’s membership includes more than 25 emerging Latina/o evaluators who have recognized the need for increasing Latina/o visibility in AEA and to create spaces for evaluation discourse that is culturally responsive to Latina/o-serving communities and programs. Led by a group of founding members, it has enlisted broad participation from Latina/o evaluators and evaluators working with Latina/o-serving organizations.

Future directions for the TIG include:

  1. Expansion of membership for a Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse Topical Interest Group (LA RED TIG) to continue to build a platform for Latina/o voices in evaluation practice for dialogue and knowledge sharing. (LA RED in Spanish stands for “The Network”.)
  2. Extension of professional leadership development for novice Latina/o evaluators through formal training and supportive mentoring from senior evaluators.
  3. Engagement of cross-cultural partners to meet the growing needs of the Latina/o community.
  4. Development of culturally responsive evaluation frameworks by including Critical Race Theory, LatCrit, and the voices of other indigenous Latina/o-focused writers.

LA RED welcomes evaluators who identify as Latina/o as well as any evaluator whose work and/or practice includes the study of Latino populations.

Hot Tip #1: Email LA RED. If you are interested in joining LA RED or would like more information regarding its mission, goals, and future directions, email LA RED at lared.tig@gmail.com.

Hot Tip #2: Join a LA RED working group. If you are interested in joining a working group, email us. Our work around the year translates into activities at AEA and beyond.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

My name is Art Hernandez and I am a Professor and Dean at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.

I participated in one of the very early yearlong experiences as an AEA MSI Fellow and have served as the Director for several cohorts most recently this past year.   I serve and have served as evaluator and teacher of evaluation and am very interested in the processes of cultural responsiveness in practice especially in regards to measurement and assessment.   I am a member of the Indigenous, Multicultural and LA RED TIGs.

Lesson Learned: Cultural responsiveness is important for many of the reasons well-articulated in the AEA Statement and in numerous articles and presentations. However, besides all the reasons which have been promulgated, I have discovered that sometimes evaluation efforts are perceived by participants as having some degree of risk attendant either to the process, outcomes or implications or some combination of all three. Often Latina/o evaluators who come from similar cultural backgrounds can actually exacerbate this perceived risk resulting in the psychological response which is known as “fight or flight” which is characterized by resistance or non-engagement. 

Hot Tip: Cultural knowledge, respect, and real relationship are important to minimize the sense of risk and maximize the nature and quality of cooperation with the evaluation effort.   Latina/o evaluators should never assume cultural responsiveness as merely a matter of cultural familiarity, cultural heritage or facility with the language and instead understand and practice cultural responsiveness as a predisposition and relational action.

Rad Resources:

Applying Culturally-Responsive Communication in Hispanic/Latino Communities – Education Toolkit. Susan G. Komen (2014).

The 10 Largest Hispanic Origin Groups: Characteristics, Rankings, Top Counties – Pew Research Center: Pew Hispanic Center (2010).

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

I’m Pat Clifford, a consultant working with the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance and Program Chair of the Military and Veteran Evaluation (MVE) TIG. A prominent issue for our collaborative and many other veteran support organizations is the successful transition from military to civilian life. When approaching this task, it’s important for evaluators to recognize some of the primary contextual drivers.

  • Military transition is a life transition: And, like other transitional periods, it comes with unique risk and protective factors.
  • Some stakeholders and factors are common: For example, there are similar national stakeholders like the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Defense (DoD) as well as a strong military culture. National changes like draw downs and restructuring impact everyone across the board.
  • However, transitions play out in local contexts: Each region has different demographics, organizational players, and linkages to bases and installations.
  • And the “Sea of Goodwill” can intensify problem: Many organizations and individuals are quick to start providing services thinking they are the only ones out there. This means that resources are often not targeted effectively or coordinated.

All of these factors contribute to a complex environment for evaluators. Often well-meaning programs and models (especially those that are implemented top-down) tend to run into roadblocks in practice. To counteract this, there are things that evaluators can do to engage with their local context and drive relevance. 

Hot Tips:

  • Prioritize relationships: Often programs are focused on evaluating programs as if they operated in a social vacuum. The reality is that program outcomes hinge on credibility with their target population, and that means relationships. Intentionally explore how programs build trust and display credibility. From my experience, word-of-mouth is key in the veteran space; and cultural missteps can lead to long-term consequences.
  • Help programs recognize and agree on roles: No organization can do everything well. Too often programs want to be the “one stop shops” to help solve all of a veteran or military families’ needs. Evaluators can work with stakeholders to think critically about their scope, identify their roles and set up processes to ensure they work in partnership, not in isolation.
  • Encourage leadership by empowering: Work with programs to explore how they create a space for indigenous leadership. While national models and top-down initiatives can help bring solutions “to scale”, often they work to disempower local leaders and veteran stakeholders. Evaluators can help become a voice for local knowledge and expertise that can help inform larger initiatives.

Rad Resources:

Tristate Veterans Community Alliance

VA Office of Policy and Planning

Ending Veteran Homelessness by Addressing Failed Transition Policies

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating MVE TIG Week with our colleagues in the Military and Veteran’s Issues Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our MVE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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