Cultural Competence Week: Melanie Hwalek on Cultural Competence Dissemination in Policy

I am Melanie Hwalek, CEO of SPEC Associates and the LGBT TIG’s representative to the AEA Public Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation Dissemination Working Group. I accepted responsibility for spearheading the Policy Subgroup of the Workgroup. In this role, I’m responsible for coordinating our Workgroup’s efforts to infuse the Cultural Competency Statement into policy regarding the conduct of evaluation. This year, our Policy Subgroup focused on making headway with federal policymakers and had some good success. We drafted a letter that the three (current, elect and outgoing) AEA presidents signed and sent to Hillary Clinton when she was the Secretary of the U.S. Department of State. Secretary Clinton’s office forwarded the letter to the Senior Director of the Office of Policy and Planning/Performance Reporting and Evaluation and now it’s our turn to figure out how to follow through.

The Policy Subgroup also worked with AEA member Celeste Richie at the U.S. Department of Labor to identify the best way to help federal policymakers to use the Statement in the evaluation work that they do or that they commission. Subgroup member Jenny Jones is currently in contact with the U.S. Administration for Children and Families (Department of Health and Human Services) to see what they already do and how they perceive the Statement can be incorporated into their evaluation policy and work. Subgroup member Jori Hall took charge of creating a one-page summary of the Statement which was vetted by an Advisory Group that the Workgroup established in order to review and comment on all aspects of our work. Perhaps the most exciting news is that our Policy Subgroup is planning a special luncheon with key policymakers while we are all in D.C. for the AEA Annual Conference.  We hope to showcase best practices in integrating the Cultural Competency Statement into federal evaluation policies and procedures.

Lessons Learned:

  • The federal policymakers we’ve encountered so far seem very interested in incorporating the Cultural Competency Statement into their work.
  • Federal policymakers are looking for practical examples of how to incorporate cultural competency into the evaluations that they do or that they commission.
  • To get the Cultural Competency Statement used by policymakers, it’s best to have a one-page summary that can be easily disseminated and referenced.
  • One way to infuse cultural competency in federally-funded evaluations is to help policymakers identify the essential criteria or evidence that they could look for when reviewing responses to RFPs to identify which prospective evaluators are likely to conduct requested evaluations in a culturally competent manner.

Rad Resource:  A one page summary of Cultural Competency Statement.

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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