AZENet Week: Insights from an Internal Evaluator by Ana Lucero

Hello, I’m Ana Lucero – I think of myself as both a researcher and a teacher. 

I’m currently working as an internal evaluator at a local non-profit, Primavera Foundation, with a mission of providing pathways out of poverty through a continuum of services and programs. One of my favorite things about my current position is that my worldview closely aligns with Primavera Foundation’s mission and values. Social justice and providing equity of opportunity are at our core. There is so much going on in our world, and so much to process and reflect upon. I find comfort in knowing that I support work that helps create a more even playing field.

Lessons Learned: Early in my career I found it difficult to find joy in work when the programs I was evaluating were ones I didn’t fully believe in. This is one of the main benefits of being an internal evaluator, I find deeper meaning in my work now. Another job perk is gaining expertise in a core area. I’m still learning about homeless in our community and in the U. S. at large. I’ve welcomed the challenge to gain this new expertise. I’m also grateful that my work extends beyond evaluation. I serve on various local committees with the aim of ending homelessness in our community. I have found that research knowledge is much valued and needed in this work. 

As with any position, there are challenges. For example, I often work on tasks not related to evaluation and I miss being part of an evaluation team; for these reasons I joined the Arizona Evaluation Network as their Tucson Region Co-Chair, and I look forward to continuing to network with other evaluators. 

Another misconception I’ve experienced are claims that objectivity is a challenge for internal evaluators — these have never rang true for me. My research ethics are deeply ingrained, as I imagine is true for many in the evaluation community. I have also found that true leadership values data regardless of its outcome. 

Rad Resources: Additionally, as with many non-profits, resources to support evaluation work is sparse, how I miss SPSS! As a consequence, I have learned to rely more on Excel for data analyses. Thanks to YouTube and videos by Ann K. Emery for helping me boost my Excel skills. Here’s one of my favorites on analyzing Satisfaction Surveys with Excel.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Arizona Evaluation Network (AZENet) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our AZENet 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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