La RED TIG Week: Reflections of an Emerging Culturally Responsive Evaluator by Elia H. Bueno

Hello, my name is Elia H. Bueno, and I am a fifth year PhD student at the University of Arizona studying Human Development and Family Science with a minor in Program Evaluation. In my research, I am interested in learning about the role of Latinx families in adolescents’ and emerging adults’ academic as well as STEM journeys. As an emerging culturally responsive and equitable (CRE) evaluator, I am interested in gaining experience related to evaluation practices that are responsive to the needs of minoritized communities. I also recently graduated from the Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) program through the American Evaluation Association (AEA), and I am always happy to connect with former and incoming GEDIs!

Lessons Learned

  • Adaptability and flexibility: I would say that throughout my journey as a program evaluator, I have not only come to realize the evaluator process is not only less predictable than the research process, but that adaptability and flexibility are necessary. As an evaluator, you are constantly adjusting to varying evaluation components. This could be because your client is stacked up on work and is delayed on sending you data they had promised to send weeks or even months ago. Another unexpected event could be that data collection is taking longer than expected because there were last minute staffing changes, and your client is busy conducting staff interviews. In sum, there is only so much we can control and that is okay!
  • Working with what you have: For me, it has been a challenge to work with what I have, especially when I see there are so many great ways to conduct an evaluation in a culturally responsive equitable way. However, considering the budget and scope of a project while still doing your best work through a CRE lens is necessary. I have learned that even when you are limited with the resources available to you, there will always be space to do evaluation in a way that is responsive to the context, needs, culture, and voices of a specific population. Keeping this in mind has helped me work with my team to provide clients useful information. 
  • Communication and teamwork is key: Aside from delivering your best work and staying within scope, being communicative is another skill that is useful to have as an evaluator. I consider that being communicative helped my team members and I be very clear about the clients’ and community’s needs as well as each team member’s responsibilities. Weekly and monthly short meetings with the client and team helped me stay accountable in knowing when tasks were due and in keeping information I needed to complete those tasks fresh in my mind. 

I hope this reflection is of use to all evaluators (i.e., emerging as well as highly experienced) and know there is always opportunity to continue growing in this profession. After all, isn’t evaluation all about adjusting as needed? Below I have listed resources (i.e., article, book) I consider could be helpful to anyone interested in learning more about applying CRE evaluation approaches. 

Rad Resources


The American Evaluation Association is hosting 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 AEA365@eval.org. 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.

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