This is Asma Ali, of AA & Associates, and Grisel Robles-Schrader, of Northwestern University, from Chicago. Along with many colleagues, we are core members of the Latinx Responsive Evaluation Discourse (LaRED) Topical Interest Group. As members of LaRED, we are often asked whether the group is only for Latinx evaluators. By design, LaRED is inclusive of both Latinx evaluators and those who are interested in being “allies” for Latinx communities. We have been thinking about what this means as our TIG has evolved.
The Community Toolbox defines an ally as “a person who supports, empowers, or stands up for another person or a group.” Although we each bring different perspectives and experiences to our work as a 1st generation Latina and a first generation Indian-American women, our evaluation work has called us to be “allies” alongside diverse communities through our AEA efforts.
AEA TIGs offer unique opportunities for evaluators to develop alliances across various intersectional dimensions, such as communities of shared characteristics or evaluation approaches. Many people feel that the word “ally” has lost its meaning because it is overused. For us, being an evaluation ally is entwined with our everyday professional and personal roles. Being an ally requires careful consideration of our own role(s) in relationship to the goals and advancement of diverse community groups. As we reflect on our ally role, we have compiled some tips for active engagement as an evaluation ally:
Hot Tips: Approaches & Reflections in Your Allyship Journey
Seek Out Opportunities to Learn. Take time to learn about different cultures, communities and histories. Evaluators often have the opportunity to connect with people that have different experiences from their own. Embracing learning from others, examining our own biases, and reflecting on the privileges we bring to different spaces is often part of an evaluator’s role. Learn more here.
Engage Diverse Perspectives. Engage diverse stakeholders in all phases of evaluation. Stakeholders provide valuable insights that can inform the process and results. They can champion evaluation efforts and provide feedback on the feasibility and relevance of evaluation recommendations. Learn more here.
Use Your Expertise. As an ally, you may be called to actively advocate for issues that are important to the community. This may done through your evaluation work or other roles with stakeholders. Learn more here.
Handle Missteps. Inevitably when working with diverse groups, missteps and misunderstandings are likely to occur. Staying engaged, being open to feedback, asking questions, and learning together are critical in evaluation ally work. For more resources click here.
Are there evaluation experiences where you have served as an ally to another group? What was your role? What did you learn?
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.