LA RED Week: Lisa Aponte-Soto and Wanda Casillas on Pathways for Building a Cadre of Latina/o Evaluators

?Saludos! We are Lisa Aponte-Soto and Wanda Casillas, AEA GEDI alumni from LA RED network. Aponte-Soto serves as National Program Deputy Director of RWJF New Connections at the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning. Casillas is a postdoctoral scholar with the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan.

The growing Latino presence in the United States demands a pool of Latina/os to support culturally responsive consultancy efforts; however, Latina/o evaluators are disproportionately underrepresented in the field. LA RED is commitment to helping consultancies meaningfully engage in evaluation practices with a culturally responsive lens that attends to and unpacks the heterogeneity of Latina/o communities. The following highlights lessons learned from LA RED’s Evaluation 2014 Think Tank session on pathways for building a pipeline of Latina/o evaluators.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Identify partners – To increase the representation of Latina/os in evaluation, it is necessary to collaborate with cross-cultural partners currently conducting Latina/o-specific evaluation, understand community needs, and learn from successes and challenges of evaluations conducted in a variety of Latina/o communities.
  2. Build evaluation capacity of Latina/o communities – LA RED should work closely with Latina/o community-based organizations tasked with conducting program evaluations to identify potential partners, evaluation practice opportunities and professional development needs for Latina/o evaluators.
  3. Create support systems – Seasoned Latina/o evaluators and cross-cultural partners are needed to serve as padrinos and madrinas to provide mentoring, coaching, and sponsorship to emerging Latina/o evaluators in communities of practice.
  4. Facilitate thought leadership – Pláticas or discussions are critical to promoting Latina/o Responsive Evaluation (LRE) discourse and developing a culture of co-learning with communities and evaluators’ practices to advance the field.
  5. Develop an outreach strategy – Outreach is instrumental to promoting the array of resources offered to support LRE. Additionally we should promote the role of evaluation in Latina/o communities with local affiliates and graduate programs in geographic areas with higher Latina/o penetration.
  6. Create opportunities for professional development – Fostering a cadre of Latina/o evaluators extends beyond the support systems offered through networks, mentorship, coaching, and sponsorships to professional development traineeships and internships. Programs like the AEA GEDI and MSI offer educational preparation on LRE practices grounded in critical race theory but only offer a limited number of seats on an annual basis. Additional opportunities need to be established.

Rad Resource #1: LA RED is partnering with the Latina Researchers Network (LRN) to provide webinar trainings on LRE practices. Visit the LRN for information on the first webinar series, scheduled for February 2015.

Rad Resource #2:  The Center for Latino Community Health Evaluation and Leadership Training offers fellowship opportunities for consultants conducting Latina/o health related evaluation. The Center is hosting its annual Latino Health Equity conference in April 2015.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse Network Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Network 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.


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