Cultural Competence Week: Lisa Aponte-Soto and Leah Christina Neubauer on Increasing the AEA Latino/a Visibility and Scholarship

We are Lisa Aponte-Soto and Leah Christina Neubauer from Chicago.  Aponte-Soto teaches at DePaul University, is an independent consultant in the areas of cultural competency, Latino/a health, and diversity talent management; and, a member of the Graduate Diversity Internship Program (GEDI) 2009-2010 cohort. Neubauer is based in DePaul’s MPH Program and is the current President of the Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA).

At Evaluation 2013, a group of Latino/a evaluators and evaluators working with Latino-serving organizations gathered in the session “Fueling the AEA pipeline for Latino Evaluator Practitioners and Researchers.”

The session highlighted the importance of developing a pipeline of Latino/a evaluators whose lived experiences position them to practice evaluation through a culturally responsive lens. Extracting from personal and professional experiences, panelists Aponte-Soto, Neubauer, Maria Jimenez, and Saul Maldonado, contributor Gabriela Garcia, and discussants Debra Joy Perez and Rodney Hopson, shared their personal and multi-ethnic identities and how these influence engaging in culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) practices within and among Latino cultures.

Did you know that the AEA 2007/2008 scan report identified 5% of members as Latino/a evaluators? Yet, Latinos comprise the fastest growing population in the U.S., presently accounting for 16.3% of Americans (U.S. Census, 2010) and a projected one-third of the population by 2050. As the U.S. Latino population continues to grow, evaluators and evaluation practices must responsively address the varied needs of Latino communities and culture in order to determine the appropriateness of programs serving Latinos.

Lessons Learned: Top 5:

  1. Future directions include creating a formalized space for dialogue and knowledge sharing around Latino issues that impact evaluation practice by establishing an AEA Latino Issues TIG.
  2. Novice Latino evaluators need additional professional leadership development that provides formal training and supportive mentoring from senior evaluators.
  3. Cross-gender, same gender, Latino, non-Latino mentoring relationships are all valuable to the development of emerging evaluators; senior evaluators must be willing to invest in their protégé.
  4. Cross-cultural partners are needed to meet the growing needs of the Latino community and assessing the appropriateness of the programs.
  5. Developing a CRE framework calls for expanding the existing critical paradigm by including LatCrit theory and the voices of other indigenous Latino-focused writers.

Hot Tip: Latino students interested in pursuing a career in evaluation practice should acquire academic training from graduate program with an evaluation component or seek supplemental training in a supportive professional environment like the AEA GEDI.

Rad Resource: The Latina Researchers Network provides ongoing mentoring support, employment opportunities, and professional resources including webinars on scholarly evidence-based knowledge sharing and talent development. The Network is available to both men and women online and through social media portals. The group will host a conference at John Jay College from April 3-5, 2014.

This week, we’re diving into issues of Cultural Competence in Evaluation with AEA’s Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation Dissemination Working Group. 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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