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

May/15

23

Liz Zadnik on Five people who have shaped and inspired the way I think about evaluation

Hi everyone!  Liz Zadnik here, aea365 Outreach Coordinator and occasional Saturday poster.  Today I’d like to chat about a few people who have shaped the way I approach and appreciate evaluation.

Lesson Learned: Feminism is for everybody (…thanks bell hooks).  “The soul of our politics is the commitment to ending domination.” I carry this message with me as I engage in my primary role as a trainer and preventionist in the anti-sexual violence movement, as well as when think about evaluation.  How am I dismantling forms of oppression while both engaging in evaluation and talk about evaluation to others?

Hot Tip: Don’t be afraid to think with things.  I learned so much working with Sharon Wasco on some community readiness assessment and pilot projects.  Sharon introduced me to so many new ideas as a trainer and evaluation enthusiast.  One of the tools she gave me – and I still use today – is bringing objects and crafts to evaluation training to help adult learners activate new learning styles and energies.  Sharon is also responsible for my deep appreciation for community readiness and the power of qualitative methodology!

Rad Resource: Maria Popova of Brain Pickings.  How has this blog helped me with evaluation, you ask?  Well, it’s Maria’s approach to the blog and how creativity shapes our thinking,

I think of it as LEGOs — if the bricks we have are of only one shape, size, and color, we can build things, but there’s a limit to how imaginative and interesting they will be. The richer and more diverse that pool of resources, that mental library of building blocks, the more visionary and compelling our combinatorial ideas can be.

Lesson Learned: Evaluation is for everybody (…thanks Stephanie Townsend).  Stephanie was the first professional evaluator I worked with; she brought an extensive background in the anti-sexual violence movement and a passion for evaluation I had never seen before.  I owe a lot of “click!” moments to her.  I LOVE spreadsheets and data analysis in large part to her.  She is a brilliant evaluator and patient teacher.

This last person is really…well…a group of people.  In no way monolithic, but still someone I carry with me: survivors of trauma and violence.  I started my career about seven or eight years ago working in a community-based domestic violence organization.  I worked with youth in schools and our shelter.  Since then I have talked to countless women, children, and young men who have experienced (and resiliently moved forward from) some of the worst this world has to offer.  My approach to evaluation always has them in mind and I consistently challenge myself to find ways to honor them in this work.

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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