Peace! My name is Dr. Monique Liston and I am a GEDI alum. I enjoyed every minute of my internship year and consider my cohort close friends in the professional and academic world. GEDI exposed me to evaluation as a profession. While I felt like I lacked evaluator skills because of the limitations of my graduate program, the GEDI program connected me to resources to help me increase my own capacity. The mentorship provided by the GEDI program leadership helped me to define myself as a professional, focused on racial justice and liberation, within the field of evaluation. Since I graduated from the program, I have applied the things that I have learned to continue my personal and professional development. Here are two HOT TIPS I have for new evaluators / new GEDI that I gained from my experience in the program.
Hot Tip 1: Follow up with anyone and everyone. I know that many people who know me would not believe that I was shy, but I am. GEDI programs put me in close contact with the heavy hitters in the evaluation field. While many members of my cohort had strong small-talk game, I often felt like I was missing out because my anxiety around meeting people kept me quiet in many social situations with people who’s work I had admired. I opted however to make sure that I emailed after being in those spaces. A short – I saw you at X place. I appreciated that you said Y. I am working on Z. – note went a long way. I was able to develop relationships in a way that was comfortable and affirming for me. In addition, many people do not follow up, so following up in general helps you to stand out in a crowd! I also made new friends in the field from across the country.
Hot Tip 2: Read. Read. Read. There is no shortage of evaluation literature, but the more you read, the more opportunities that you have to connect your experiences to the reflections of others. When I was in the program, I was overwhelmed because I felt that others who came from schools with intense evaluation programs were constantly inundating the conversation with theorists and frameworks that I had not been exposed to. Now that I am well-versed in evaluation literature I cannot get enough of it! The GEDI program is an excellent opportunity to find the literature that interests you and even connect to the key authors in that area!
For my work, bridging racial justice and culturally responsive evaluation was key. Here are two readings that helped:
McDermott, C. M., & O’Connor, G. C. (2002). Managing radical innovation: an overview of emergent strategy issues. Journal of product innovation management, 19(6), 424-43
Brown, A. M. (2017). Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. AK PRESS.