My name is Susana Morales and I am the Co-Founder of Communities in Collaboration | Comunidades en Colaboración. I am also a member of La Red TIG, YFE TIG, and the IC TIG and locally support the San Francisco Bay Area Evaluators and Applied Researchers group. During this short piece, I want to discuss working with culturally-driven organizations that are doing evaluations for the first time.
Recently, we started working with two organizations that serve Latino populations around issues of mental health. The organizations are full of well-intended mental health providers and whole-hearted community health care workers. They provide therapy, connect clients to other community providers, support them in navigating other pressing issues such as immigration, housing, and economic instability. Additionally, they are part of state evaluation working towards understanding how cultura es salud, how culture is health. They have to balance between being in the front lines of life and death concerns and having to ask their clients to complete consent forms and surveys.
Lesson Learned: How do you work with organizations that are not ready for an evaluation and have to do it? Earn their trust. They need to trust that you will take care of them and walk next to them as they figure things out. I have learned that earning trust allows me to be a better evaluator, a better critic when needed, even a better data enforcer even when I must.
Hot Tips: Here are some tips on how to develop a positive trusting relationship.
- Cree en tu corazoncito. Evaluate with your heart. Many organizations do work of the heart and care deeply about the communities they serve. When you show up as the evaluator, also let your heart show up. Listen with empathy.
- No nomas vallas a las fiestas. Show up. The communities which we serve face many challenges and the organizations for which we work are always short-staffed. We not only show up when for data collection, we show up when they have community events, need extra volunteers, even for parties.
- Celebra. Celebrate the small wins. Embarking on an evaluation for the first time can be daunting and confusing. The small wins matter.
- Yes, food. My mamá taught me to always bring something to share when I am invited to someone’s house. Pan dulce for a morning meeting if appropriate, fruit for an afternoon meeting.
- Siempre Always greet. No matter how often you see your clients, always greet them as if you haven’t seen them in years. I’m a hugger, and, yes, I do ask for permission but I always greet people with authentic enthusiasm.
And remember las palabras se las lleva el viento make your actions count.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.