AZENet Week: Supports for Internal Evaluators by Joanne Basta

Greetings! I am Joanne Basta, Manager of the Juvenile Unit, in the Planning, Research, and Evaluation (PRE) Division of the Superior Court in Pima County, AZ. I will share some resources that have helped me as both an external and internal evaluator but especially for my role as an internal evaluator. Past AEA 365 posts and conference proceedings have provided beneficial insights and resources for me and my team.

Lessons Learned: When I was an independent consultant working at home, I missed the social contact of office mates. To mitigate this, I would schedule meet-ups with colleagues and attend meetings and conferences. 

As an internal evaluator for the Court, even though I work with a great team, the sense of isolation originates more from having a non-traditional role in the Court. Inevitably, some may not understand the work we do, our need to question, and the potential value we offer. We have been pigeon-holed by some into “data people”, “bean counters, or “number crunchers.” My team and I have learned to view misunderstanding about our role as a potential opportunity to educate and relate. Sometimes we succeed, and that keeps us motivated. The following has helped: patience, fostering trust and relationships, seeking opportunities to assist with evaluation activities, having a good elevator speech if asked what we do, and the support of Court leadership. Also, staying connected with professional colleagues and organizations dispels the isolation and provides the support and ideas from others who may have experienced similar reactions from co-workers.  

Rad Resource: The AEA and our local affiliate, Arizona Evaluation Network, foster development and a sense of belonging. Since local government budgets are tight, and we can’t attend the national conferences, AEA365 and conference archives have been my “go-to” places. I have often referred to the following presentations and blogs to give me perspective and refresh me. I especially appreciate the pieces below that can be found in the AEA Blog and Conference archives:

And if you work in the non-profit and public sectors you will find, Impact and Excellence: Data Driven Strategies for Aligning Mission, Culture, and Performance in Nonprofit and Government Organizations. She includes real-life case studies of organizations that used data-driven strategies to improve their impact — one of which is about a juvenile court, which resonated with me!

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 theaea365 webpageso that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest toaea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by theAmerican Evaluation Associationand provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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