AEA’s DEI Working Group Week: DEI Through an Emergent Liberatory Analysis of AEA’s Policies, Practices, and Procedures by Asma Ali, James Groh, Diana Lemos, Katayahynee Murray, David Sul, and Elizabeth Taylor-Schiro

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” 

Maya Angelou

We are Asma Ali, James Groh, Diana Lemos, Katayahynee Murray, David Sul, and Elizabeth TaylorSchiro. Collectively, we are serving as members of the AEA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Working Group and participating on the subgroup charged with examining AEA’s systems, policies, and procedures through a lens of DEI. While some AEA members have been considering elements of DEI in their evaluation work and as an organization for many years, our subgroup is diving into AEA’s current and historical policies, procedures, and practices, both the formal and written policies and the informal or unwritten policies, to understand who we are as a professional organization with regard to DEI principles and practices.

To explore and understand our roots and current state, we are spending time looking at AEA’s historical documents, including the: 

However, as we looked through these documents, we realized that we needed a comprehensive strategy to understand AEA’s historical and current standing when it came to DEI policies and practices. This is a dynamic task, as AEA’s content as well as thinking about diversity and cultural responsiveness, has changed dramatically in the last decade as well as through the history of the organization. For example, we have discussed whether our lens could better meet the current moment to include perspectives around justice, belonging, and liberation. 

Diversity asks: who's in the room?
Equity answers: who is trying to get in the room but can't? Whose presence in the room is under constant threat of erasure?
Inclusion celebrates: awards for initiatives and credits itself for having a diverse candidate pool.
Justice celebrates: getting rid of practices and policies that have disparate impacts on minoritized groups.
Inclusion asks: is this environment safe for everyone to feel like they belong?
Justice challenges: whose safety is being sacrificed and minimized to allow others to be comfortable maintaining dehumanizing views?

As evaluation and research practitioners, our subgroup members embarked on a journey to identify and explore existing frameworks for understanding DEI in organizations and large groups. Some of the frameworks we have identified to pull from and shape the lens we use to create our own framework include: 

After grounding ourselves in these frameworks, our emerging strategy will include the development of a tool and strategy to assess people, place, processes, and power within the organization both critically and reflectively. It is our hope that the existing frameworks and our work will provide structure to move DEI forward within AEA’s specific context to ensure that AEA represents the voices and lived experiences of our members. 

To that end, we would love to learn what tools and frameworks you have applied in your own culturally responsive evaluation, organizational DEI work, and personal journeys that could be leveraged for this purpose as we move forward. In collaboration with the broader DEI Workgroup, we plan to have ways to receive direct feedback from AEA members (e.g., Town Halls). In the meantime, feel free to share your ideas for tools and frameworks we could leverage by emailing kanmurray@hotmail.com


The American Evaluation Association is hosting DEI Week with our colleagues in AEA’s DEI Working Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from working group 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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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