LA RED TIG WEEK: How to Institute an Internal Culture of Evaluation by Susana Morales

Hola, my name is Susana Morales and I am so excited to be sharing with fellow evaluation practitioners. My work focuses on bicultural and bilingual evaluations with an emphasis on community health and community economic development. I come to this work from the belief that evaluation can create revolutions and demonstrate impact in communities of color.

I have had the honor to work with a small nonprofit during the last 3 years supporting them in a state-wide evaluation. It has been challenging and rewarding. Challenging because before they started this journey, they didn’t quite understand evaluation and felt like they were being scored and judged. Rewarding because this misperception transformed, and they soon realized that evaluation is critical to demonstrate their community impact. Through the evaluation we were able to concretely conclude that their community defined intervention is effective, reached the desired population, and had a positive impact in people’s lives. Now that the evaluation is over, I wonder how they can continue to make continuous evaluation part of their organizational culture? How can we as evaluators set the stage for revolution? Here are some ideas:

  1. Make evaluation accessible and user-friendly. This demonstrates that evaluation is doable and feasible.  
  2. Earn trust and respect by always being available, responsive, and meeting the organization where they are at. They will always be in the right place at the right time.
  3. Recognize that it’s a joint learning experience. We have much to learn from the organizations we evaluate. Be humble, learn, and co-create a brave environment for sharing lessons. 
  4. Trust the outcome and process. As challenging as times might be, you are working towards a goal. Remind the organization about this often and lead by example. 
  5. Engage with the work. Show up even when you don’t have to.
  6. Be your authentic self. These projects are intense, and everyone involved is investing their time, energy and selves. 

The American Evaluation Association is hosting La RED TIG Week with our colleagues in the La RED Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our La RED 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

1 thought on “LA RED TIG WEEK: How to Institute an Internal Culture of Evaluation by Susana Morales”

  1. Kristen Cabanatan

    Hi Susana,

    I am currently taking a course through Queen’s University in Ontario. While looking through posts here on AEA365 I was immediately drawn to yours. The statement you made about being drawn to evaluation because of your belief that it “can create revolutions and demonstrate impact in communities of color” instantly made me want to keep reading.

    I am happy to hear that the evaluation with the non-profit you conducted went well. I imagine that there were challenges along the way and can very much understand the initial feeling of judgement the program must have felt but am glad they learned that is part of the evaluation process. Your six ideas on how to set the stage for evaluation to help become a revolution are ones I think are crucial. I think your ideas tackle two key things- one is that they focus on the importance of making the program and those involved feel comfortable with the evaluation. For the evaluation to be successful those directly involved must feel supported through the process. The second key item your ideas cover is the importance of the role of the evaluator as a person. I really like idea #3 which is to recognize that evaluation is a joint learning experience. I really think that when the evaluator enters that role, knowing that they have things to learn along the way acknowledges that the process won’t be perfect right away, but sticking with it can benefit everyone involved.

    Thank you so much for sharing your insights. I truly enjoyed reading about your experience and learning from your ideas.

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