CEA Week: Partnerships for Networking and Evaluation Capacity Building by Lisa Aponte-Soto

Hello! ¡Saludos! I’m Lisa Aponte-Soto, an AEA GEDI alumna, Latinx Responsive Evaluation Discourse (La RED) TIG chair, and CEA local affiliate member. I currently serve as Associate Director of Community Engaged Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. La RED and CEA foster communities of practice to exchange ideas and enhance collective learning around evaluation practices. Specifically, La RED engages evaluators working to support multiple Latinx-specific contexts through culturally responsive evaluation practices, evaluation capacity building, and evaluation professional development. Similarly, CEA provides evaluators and students career development activities.

Both La RED and CEA value partnerships that will increase membership networking and skill-building opportunities. Namely, members of La RED and CEA in the Chicagoland area have collaborated with the Latina Researchers Network (LRN) to maximize and share professional resources for Latinx researchers and evaluators in the Midwest and nationally. Founded by Dr. Silvia Mazzula at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the LRN offers ongoing mentorship and career development resources to meet the diverse needs of Latinx professionals. The conceptual framing of the LRN can be found here. Since its inception in 2012, the LRN has provided leadership, research, and evaluation training to over 3000 scholars, researchers, evaluators, academic leaders, and junior investigators.

Most recently, Chicagoland members embarked in a yearlong LRN initiative along with members in Texas to regionalize the network. La RED and CEA members leading the planning steering committee include Leah C. Neubauer, Grisel Robles-Schrader, Diana Lemos, and myself. Opportunities will now be available to establish local LRN chapters and affiliates. Efforts also culminated in an LRN Chicago Chapter kick-off event in May 2018, Latina Women in Academia: Challenges and Strategies for Success featuring keynote speaker Dr. Aida Giachello, a social hour, and World Café discussions to gauge membership interests and needs.

Lessons Learned:

From the World Café discourse, we found that Latinx professionals are seeking more opportunities to:

  1. Network internationally
  2. Engage in writing workshops
  3. Receive methodological skill-based training
  4. Participate in work-life balance activities
  5. Collaborate with interdisciplinary professional organizations and associations

Hot Tip: The LRN will be hosting its fourth biennial Latina Researchers Conference August 23-25 at John Jay College in New York, New York. Register here.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from CEA 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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