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

Aug/15

19

Rebecca Stewart and Samantha Hagel on Committing to Creating an Inclusive and Accountable Evaluation Organization

We are Rebecca Stewart, Chief Practice Officer, and Samantha Hagel, Chief Administrative Officer, both with The Improve Group, a firm based in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a mission to help mission-driven organizations make the most of information, navigate complexity, and ensure their investments of time and money lead to meaningful, sustained impact.

This year, we decided to consider a beautiful question: What is The Improve Group’s role in creating a diverse, inclusive field of evaluation? The question emerged as we were thinking about the 2015 Year of Evaluation and its focus on equity, on the AEA’s cultural competency statement, and our own desire to promote social justice. As we’ve pondered this question, we realize part of our role is to share lessons learned and success stories with others in the field of evaluation.  So, here goes!

Hot tip: One way we support diversity and inclusion in our practice is to utilize a competency model. Our competency model asks all of our staff to have a constant awareness of, be learning about, and apply cultural competence. It is not a one-time thing; we want to see team members thinking about this all the time, unprompted. We support them with several opportunities to reflect and learn from each other, including an organization-wide conversation on unconscious bias.

Lesson Learned: Develop strategies to diversify the pipeline of people entering the field of evaluation and applying for open positions. Over the years, the vast majority of our candidates have come from a single graduate program. This year, we are experimenting with connecting with non-traditional audiences. For example, we gave presentations in undergraduate programs, and to Vista and AmeriCorps members at Public Allies and the PSEI Vista Program, to raise awareness of evaluation as a profession. We also changed our internship program from a purely graduate-level program to a summer internship for undergraduates and a school-year partnership with the GEDI program.

Hot tip: Be expansive, curious, and collaborative in seeking out community partners. We got to know an organization, Partnership Resources, through an evaluation of how the Americans with Disabilities Act has affected employment for people with disabilities. This interaction challenged us to figure out how to be a supported employment site. We looked at our workplace in a new way and found a role for a new employee, matched to us by Partnership Resources.

Rad resource: We partnered with New Sector Alliance for our new summer internship program. We have a shared interest in broadening the scope of those entering the social sector, and they have helped us reach potential new evaluation professionals.

Interested in further conversation? Join us at the conference: http://bit.ly/1PbkqOV

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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