Insights and Legacy of Stafford Hood by Michael Quinn Patton

This week, we honor the life and legacy of the great Dr. Stafford Hood: evaluator, educator, visionary, truth-speaker, and beloved husband, father, and colleague. This week’s authors pay tribute to Dr. Hood by sharing with us the ways in which he touched their personal and professional lives.

-Liz DiLuzio, Lead Curator

I’m Michael Quinn Patton (MQP), founder and director of Utilization-Focused Evaluation and Blue Marble Evaluation. This blogpost spotlights some of the insights of Stafford Hood in his own words in the hope that it will lead you to read more of his legacy as experienced through his writings.  In an article for New Directions for Evaluation (No. 157, 2018) he shared “Reflections on the Journey of One Aspiring Culturally Responsive Evaluator—Thus Far.” He wrote:

I see evaluation being a very human function; we evaluate stuff constantly. We are making hundreds of evaluative decisions a day, whether it is the choice of what to wear or a number of things. I just see that as a very human function. I do not think about it as evaluation even though I know it is. We make some judgments that kind of are what it is. But I think sometimes those judgments are based on me seeing it through my lens based on my particular experience growing up, my cultural background, and personal background and all those things—my particular view of the world. From a formal standpoint, that comes into play and I think that whole notion of evaluator or researcher as objective is false. It is not possible. I see that as just being what I do in my life. Evaluation is just a part of who I am….

There are just some things that I am just not going to do. I have my own particular set of what I call negotiables and non-negotiables. Non-negotiables include social justice, culture and cultural context, particularly issues around race. I am not really interested in whether somebody agrees with that or not. Those non-negotiables do not necessarily have to be logical to anybody else, they do not have to be anything that you subscribe to. That is just who I am. If we are going to work together then you need to understand that. I see that coming across in the informal parts as well as the formal parts of the things I am willing to do, on the projects that I choose to work and I do not work on. The issues around institutional racism have been a core thing that is part of our society. That is something that is always going to have an underpinning on any work that I do. That is one thing that I deal with as an African-American man everyday! It is not possible not to consider that as an issue. Some people have that choice; I do not. It is just being an African-American man in America!

Dr. Stafford Hood
Taking Action Through Agitation

Stafford Hood keynoted the Minnesota Evaluation Studies Institute conference on Culturally Responsive Evaluation and evaluators’ responsibilities to address institutional racism. He said,” I believed then as I do now that, as evaluators, we must be the “agitators” Frederick Douglass called for in 1857.”

Afterwards, a group of students gathered around and one asked:  “What can we do to address institutional racism? How do we even start?”

He replied by quoting the great African-American tennis champion, Arthur Ashe, who was often asked the same question by young fans. 

                                    Start where you are.

                                     Use what you have.

                                     Do what you can.

Stafford Hood lived those words. He started where he was. He used what he had. He did what he could. And he made a lasting difference to the theory and practice of culturally responsive evaluation.

Rad Resources

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