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LA RED TIG Week: Lisa Aponte-Soto and Saúl I. Maldonado on Community, Culture, Language, and Power: Evaluators and Evaluation with a Latina/o Cultural Lens

¡Saludos! We are Lisa Aponte-Soto and Saúl I. Maldonado, co-chairs of the Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse (LA RED) TIG and AEA GEDI alumni. Aponte-Soto is the National Program Deputy Director of RWJF New Connections at Equal Measure, and Maldonado is a lecturer at Santa Clara University’s School of Education.

Content for our TIG Week features updates from AEA 2015 and discussions about evaluation theory and practice. Our post highlights the Birds of a Feather LA RED session at Evaluation 2015, “How do we attend to evaluation with a Latina/o Cultural Lens?” Facilitators shared experiences, resources, and dialogued with attendees regarding culture, context, and Latina/o responsive evaluation (LRE) practices.

Lessons Learned:                                                                                                               

  • Attend to Cultural ValuesRespeto (respect) and familismo (collectivism) are among central cultural values vital for gaining confianza (“trust”). Showing respeto to Latina/o communities requires staying humble, asking thoughtful questions, and sharing decision-making. This may also entail providing additional space or activities to accommodate participants’ children and extended family members.
  • Be Inclusive of Language and Linguistic Differences – To maintain the integrity of the evaluation results, it is important to know the community and to prepare protocols and instruments in Spanish and English. Translations do not guarantee instruments’ appropriateness for Latina/o subgroup/s being served. These differences are critical to practicing LRE. While this may be challenging, it is necessary to communicate to funders, colleagues, or partners.
  • Be Inclusive of Community – An LRE approach demands a multilayered process rooted in community participatory approaches that engage Latina/o staff, leaders, advocates, and community members. Meaningful collaboration with promotoras (lay community workers) and other community members is always appropriate, as they are the most attuned to culturally responsive community needs.
  • Beware of Power Differentials – As evaluators, it is important to remain mindful of professional privileges that influence power differentials when engaging with communities – even if you are a part of the community, are Latina/o, and/or live, socialize, and work with Latina/os. Being reflective of one’s value systems, expertise, and stakeholder expectations may prevent culturally inappropriate partnerships.

Hot Tip #1: Stakeholder Engagement – Navigating community, stakeholder, and client needs requires advocacy to negotiate marginalized representation. Excluding voices leads to erroneous results, but so does the over-adjustment of evaluation designs.

Hot Tip #2: Efficiency Isn’t Always Effective – Organizational structures are important when conducting evaluations, but overemphasizing efficiency can compromise the most effective collaborations with stakeholders.

Rad Resource: The Building Evidence Toolkit is a free receta (recipe) for Latina/o community-based organizations to document their programs outcomes.

Rad Resource: LA RED recognizes evaluators have individual experiences that encompass multiple identities beyond race/ethnicity. LA RED is a space for evaluators working collaboratively with/for Latina/o communities regardless of their personal racial-ethnic background. To join the discourse, please email us at lared.tig@gmail.com.

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 aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “LA RED TIG Week: Lisa Aponte-Soto and Saúl I. Maldonado on Community, Culture, Language, and Power: Evaluators and Evaluation with a Latina/o Cultural Lens”

  1. Hola,
    My name is Kelly and I am currently a student at Texas A&M University-Central Texas. I am majoring in Psychology and I want to be a school counselor. I read a post earlier by Mr. Gutierrez(The link is provided below) that went over some recommendations when approaching the Latino community.


    As a Latino myself I know that there is a lot of reservation within families when disclosing any kind of information with anyone outside our culture. These approaches are very helpful to keep in mind. Thank you for them.


  2. Thank you for this thinking! I’m wondering about the significance of ‘place consciousness’ in evaluation in these contexts – the importance of ‘place’ in identifying invisible voices, power differentials, shared values and perspectives, historic relationships, connections and differences, the impact of the place itself on the community and the way people live out their lives, make decisions and relate to ‘outsiders.

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