GBEN Affiliate Week: Shared Values Can Create Strong Partnerships by Kelly Washburn and Tiana Yom

Hello! We are Kelly Washburn (she/her), GBEN Programming Co-chair/Director of Evaluation, MGH Office of Equity and Community Health, and Tiana Yom (she/her/Dr.), Program Director-The Northeastern University Public Evaluation Lab (NU-PEL)/Assistant Research Professor-Health Sciences and School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. Boston is home to many universities-the 4th most colleges in the US! With so many amazing universities with potential emerging evaluators, it was clear that GBEN should build partnerships with universities as we aim to build a diverse and inclusive community of evaluation practitioners. Currently, GBEN has partnerships with two universities: Northeastern University/NU-PEL with Tiana and Boston College/Department of Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics & Assessment. Both partnerships formed almost organically as both universities connected with GBEN to discuss how we could collaborate together.  

Lessons Learned: 

  • Each partnership will look different based on the organization’s goals and capacity. 
  • Have conversations early about what each partnership can bring, such as space, staff capacity, money, and technology. By allowing each partnership to be open about their capacity/abilities,  expectations are established on the design of the partnership.

Since 2020, NU-PEL and GBEN co-host a 2x/year culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) series that is open to GBEN members, Northeastern University students, academic and non-academic folx, and potential GBEN members. We bring in speakers to create a space to learn how to incorporate a CRE lens into one’s work and continue to provide a platform to increase visibility and empower Evaluators of Color. One of NU-PEL’s pillars is creating multigenerational teams. By partnering with GBEN, we have been able to create pathways for multigenerational networks of evaluators (e.g., student-level, entry-level, mid-level, senior-level, etc.)  to come together and connect. 

GBEN and Boston College’s partnership first started as co-hosting values in evaluation programming events in 2019. A funding opportunity was available to BC and has thus created an initiative called SCENE: Strengthening Capacity for Equity in New England Evaluation Collaborative, where GBEN is part of the core planning group. The initiative includes 6 virtual events with guest speakers and discussions, participant-led collaboration streams to develop and pilot new practices, private Slack workspace to facilitate connections and sharing questions/resources, and social system mapping of participants who opt-in to facilitate connections.

Lesson Learned:

Have continued conversations within the partnership to ensure the goals of each partner are still in alignment. Be open to how the partnership may change over time. 

Our partnerships are continuously evolving. For NU-PEL and GBEN, in addition to the CRE series, we are interested in creating an internship type structure to connect students to organizations, which will further enhance their evaluation learning and experiences. Along with our university partnerships, GBEN is having internal dialogues of how we can partner with other professional network organizations. 

By creating and strengthening these partnerships, we can engage emerging evaluators, evaluators of color, and professionals who do evaluation-related work to step up as leaders, contribute to creating safe spaces for community building/discussion, and play a key role in shaping GBEN’s agenda.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting the Greater Boston Evaluation Network (GBEN) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from GBEN 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 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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.