IC TIG Week: Leveraging Independence for Transformation by Nina Sabarre

Nina Sabarre with "Hindsight is 2020. Racism is a 400 year pandemic" sign.
Nina Sabarre

Greetings, AEA365 community! My name is Nina Sabarre. I am the Chair-Elect of the Independent Consulting TIG and the Founder & Principal of Intention 2 Impact, LLC. The IC TIG is honored to host the week leading up to Independence Day to share our experiences and resources related to this week’s theme: “Leveraging Independence for Transformation.”

I recently wrote an article in an IC TIG newsletter where I questioned the overused term “unprecedented times.” I believe we are living through truly historic times. While it is hard to predict what life will be like on the other end – we know that it will be different, and hopefully better, than how things are today and how they were before. However, when we use the term “unprecedented,” we are ignoring the systems of oppression, racism, inequities, misinformation, and violence that have laid the precedents for this present moment. Hindsight really is 2020.

How does this relate to independence?

My favorite thing about being an independent evaluation consultant is the authority to hold my personal values and reflective practice at the center of my work. Although some evaluators claim that “the data speak for itself,” the truth is, we are the ones who design, collect, interpret, and share the data. Therefore, it is critical to pause and recognize how our own experience, culture, epistemology, background, and privileges manifest a lens through which we produce our work and deliver our services.

This is true for all evaluators, not only independent consultants. However, independent consultants and #evalpreneurs are in a unique position of constantly marketing themselves to generate ongoing business. As such, I believe it is imperative that we leverage our independence to check-in with our values – particularly around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) – and ensure we are living them before we start selling them.

We need to ask ourselves the hard questions: “how can I unlearn my own implicit biases and show up as anti-racist every day?” before figuring out “how should I introduce DEI practices to my clients?” If we ask the latter without the former, we run the risk of making social justice a marketing tactic or business opportunity, rather than the purpose of the work itself.

Here are some Rad Resources to help you consider the role of DEI and reflective practice in both your life and work:

For the rest of the Independent Consulting TIG’s AEA365 week, our TIG members will share how they “leverage their independence for transformation” by creating intentional opportunities to use evaluation as a tool for social justice, cultivating community through mastermind groups, refocusing on your purpose and brand, making the most of mentorship, and being purposeful about professional development. Stay tuned for these worthwhile articles!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating IC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Independent Consulting Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC TIG 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.

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