GEDI Week: Drs. Ashaki M. Jackson and Stewart Donaldson on Culture Matters: GEDI Week on AEA365

Greetings from Los Angeles! We are Drs. Ashaki M. Jackson and Stewart Donaldson – the AEA Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) program leadership team. This week, we share with you reflections from our most recent alumni, fondly called District 13 in honor of our 13th cohort.

During last year’s annual conference, GEDI scholars were charged with learning how attendees defined culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) and how it emerged in practitioners’ work, if at all. When asked to what extent CRE was important to practitioners’ work, a respondent answered, “don’t care.” It ignited scholars to reflect on where culture exists and the possibility that evaluation can be conducted without attention to culture. Their reflections yielded a new understanding of culture’s omnipresence in our selves (beliefs, values, religious practices, race and ethnicity), work (colleagues, stakeholders, funders and politics that shape our grant opportunities), environments (where we live, where we work) and even our funders’ missions. Culture is inextricable, and that matters.

The GEDI program sharpens scholars’ attention to culture and its impact on evaluation quality, validity and meaningfulness. It is a pipeline to the evaluation field. We train masters and doctoral students of color who reflect many of the new communities in which evaluations occur. The program introduces evaluative thinking in scholars from variety of disciplines and is centered on the principles of culturally responsive evaluation. Scholars participate in a yearlong internship while receiving mentoring from leadership, AEA theorists and practitioners, and internship site supervisors. Scholars also complete professional development courses, including those offered through Claremont Evaluation Center’s (CEC) annual workshops and the association’s annual conference; complete monthly webinars with established theorists and practitioners; and fulfill written group and individual deliverables to practice conveying findings to different audiences.

Hot Tip: Evaluative thinking and evaluation skills are widely practical. We invite graduate students across all fields who are interested in exploring and practicing cultural competence in evaluation, are from historically under-represented communities, and are at an institution where evaluation coursework is limited or absent to apply. AEA distributes a call each spring. Please share this opportunity widely.

Hot Tip: The program is fueled by partnerships with organizations that can provide evaluation opportunities for our scholars. Site supervisors provide our scholars practical professional experience and space in which to apply their program learning. We enthusiastically welcome applications from organizations. Previous host sites have missions centered on education, health, policy, environment, micro-loans, volunteerism and social services. If you are interested in working with the program and helping shape the next generation of evaluators, please contact us at, or watch for the Call for Applications that we distribute in early spring (prior to our call for scholar applications).

Rad Resources
CEC Professional Development Workshop Series

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s GEDI Program and its interns. For more information on GEDI, see their webpage here: 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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