LaRED TIG Week: LaRED TIG Engagement and Collaboration During the Pandemic: A way to Engage, Learn, and Share Best Practices by Susana Morales and Alisha Garcia Flores

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Hola!  We are Susana Morales and Alisha Garcia Flores, proud co-chairs of the LaRED TIG. For the past couple years we have had the privilege of building a community with our fellow LaRED members. The Latinx Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG (LaRED) meets monthly via zoom throughout the year. Our mission is to increase representation, engagement and leadership of Latina/o and other evaluators in theory, research and practice of culturally responsive evaluation especially involving the Latina/o community through the development of sustainable avenues for the development and application of Latina/o responsive evaluation theory and practice.

We do so by:

  1. Building collaborative cross cultural discourse to support Latina/o responsive evaluation.
  2. Identifing and applying appropriate theory to the practice and study of evaluation of activities and services with and for Latina/o populations.
  3. Establishing a network of likeminded scholars and practitioners who are appropriately skilled for the evaluation work with Latina/o populations. 

In the last couple years, we have focused our meetings on capacity building and collaboration, discussing pertinent topics and issues facing Latinx evaluators and Latinx communities that have been heightened during the pandemic.  In the last year, our TIG has taken a different approach in an effort to deepen our engagement and learning with each other and to build our community.

In 2022, we developed a series of events/topics to increase engagement, interaction, and discussion amongst members. Each “series’ covers a topic and a specific model of engagement. The first month, we present the topic overall and pertinent theories/research, the second month we talk about how it impacts the field, and the third month we talk about how we apply it in our work with Latinx communities. This model has yielded many interesting conversations and we have learned so much from implementation. 

What worked well?
  • Interesting topics were elevated by members for discussion such as: language justice, DREI CBPR and evaluation, DREI, advocacy and evaluation, organizational culture and sustainable evaluation, etc.
  • Topics of focus were relevant to challenges and innovations needed during pandemic
  • Meetings provided a platform for great discussions and learning amongst members
  • Great presenters and experts in the field (best part they were from our network)
  • Meetings also included space for community building and open sharing
  • Spreading out the topic over 3 months allowed for deeper discussion and understanding
  • Every meeting we asked members to add their information to the LaRED directory (and areas of expertise) to encourage community building outside of meetings
Challenges
  • Meetings were 1 hour each month, which is limited
  • Keeping consistency in members, fluctuation of attendees 
  • The topics were sometimes very broad and needed pointed discussion questions 

Lessons Learned/Proposed Improvements

  • Need to expand past our network and invite a broader range of speakers 
  • Provide recaps at every meeting because not everyone will attend all three months in a sequence 
  • Plan full year ahead and find speakers/facilitators 
  • Be flexible in encouraging speakers to just come talk about their work, not expecting fully prepped presentations
  • Implement more communications between meetings and ways for members to continue the conversations and resource sharing in between meetings

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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