Labor Day Week: Laboring to Make Evaluation More Welcoming, Equitable, and Inclusive by Nora Murphy Johnson

I’m Nora Murphy Johnson, CEO of Inspire to Change. In my role as co-curator of this week’s post on the labor of evaluation, I dug deep into Robert Ingle Service Award archives. What did I learn? I learned that the evaluation profession is shaped by members who hold a vision for what evaluation could be, and use their energies, voice, and power to make that vision a reality. Often, this centers on building a professional community that is more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive. They argue that these qualities are essential to evaluation use and rigor.

These four award winners demonstrate how people can work towards a community and practice that is more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive.

Molly Engle, 2009

Molly Engle focused on community-based evaluations, using what she learned through her experience as a nurse to work towards evaluation that was better at listening to and including community members. As a charter member of AEA, she was instrumental in the formation of its Health Evaluation Topical Interest Group. Read More.

Kathleen Bolland, 2015

Kathleen Bolland began and served as “owner” of the association’s listserv, EVALTALK, and shepherded the list until her death on February 23, 2015. She helped create an environment that was civil and welcoming for AEA members and nonmembers alike and oversaw its success. In 1995, during the first week of operation, 25 people subscribed; now there are over 3000 subscribers. Read more. Read More.

Melvin Hall, 2016

For several years, Melvin Hall served on the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Standing Committee on Diversity, initiating the association’s published statement on the importance of Cultural Competence in the field of Program Evaluation.  He has a continuing appointment as affiliated faculty in the Center for Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) at the University of Illinois and recently moderated the AEA Dialogues on Race and Class. Read more.

Stewart I. Donaldson, 2017

During his presidential year in 2015, Stewart Donaldson’s selection of an inviting and inclusive theme inspired evaluation professionals and other stakeholders from all regions of the world to gather in Chicago.  They learned together about the best of evaluation across the globe, and to imagines what evaluation could be in the future. In the spirit of inclusiveness, the conference was made accessible online for the first time. Read More.

My questions to you. Where do you see a gap between evaluation as it currently is, and what you believe it could and should be? How will you use your energies, voice, and power to make that vision a reality?

Lesson Learned: We are the field of evaluation. When we labor conscientiously and with distinction on behalf of the evaluation profession, we can continue to steward an active community and practice that is useful, rigorous, welcoming, equitable, and inclusive.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Labor Day Week in Evaluation: Honoring and appreciating those who have labored on behalf of the evaluation profession. The contributions this week are tributes to evaluators who have labored conscientiously and with distinction on behalf of the evaluation profession. 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.

1 thought on “Labor Day Week: Laboring to Make Evaluation More Welcoming, Equitable, and Inclusive by Nora Murphy Johnson”

  1. Jochebed Gethsemane Gayles

    I see a gap between where evaluation is and where it could be with regards to community-based designs that incorporate community voice and meaning into evaluation. Although this is being done in many ways, it still seems we have some ways to go with the predefined terminology and evaluation questions that can be posed. In a current project, we are working with communities to evaluate their programs and their coalitions, yet we still find that for some of the questions they have, we do not have valid and/or reliable ways to measure them. This speaks to the lag of the we have for evaluating process and outcomes measures, and evaluating “what matters” within the context of communities…or I wonder is it that beyond providing guidance and assistance for local evaluation, we should also help communities operationalize constructs of interest that can be measured.

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