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LEEAD Fellows Alumni Curated Week: Practicing Culturally Responsive and Equitable Evaluation in Hawai‘i by Jackie Ng-Osorio and Brooke Keliikoa

Dear Readers:

This AEA365 post contains Hawaiian language words that use certain diacritical markings. We make our best efforts to include these markings to be as culturally and grammatically accurate as possible, however, these markings often display as question marks or boxes, and may display differently on different browsers and devices. For best readability we have omitted some of those marks here.

-Liz DiLuzio, Lead Curator, AEA365

Aloha mai kakou! We are alumnae of the Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity Program who live and work in Hawai?i. Jackie Ng-Osorio (2nd cohort) is a Native Hawaiian who founded Ng-Osorio Consulting (NOC) and Brooke Keliikoa (3rd cohort) is co-lead of the Healthy Hawai‘i Evaluation Team at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. We share some reflections about our efforts to engage in culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE) within spaces involving diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In Jackie’s work with NOC, she focuses on the well-being of the community and intentionally brings forth an indigenous lens. She developed the ho?ohuli framework centered on Hawaiian values to guide her evaluation projects. H?lili is defined as a bridge or connection. Jackie seeks to translate the tallies of data into building the bridge into meaningful stories that provide greater insight into the program. 

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The ho’ohuli framework has three main points that you may consider for your evaluation work.

  • Pilina (relationships): good relationships are key to the successful completion of an evaluation project. Relationships are grown through communication and the recognition that there are learnings to be had by all.
  • Kuleana (responsibility): listening and understanding the client’s goals and aspirations are the evaluator’s kuleana. As a Native Hawaiian, it is important to Jackie that she engages with the work with the indigenous lens. She uses culturally relevant tools and methods of engagement with her clients and the communities. Jackie stays true to bringing the cultural lens to her work. 
  • Aloha Aina (love of the land): being grounded to who we are. When we know who we are and where we come from, we are able to share our experiences while providing space to listen to others. 

At the center of the framework is Pono (Righteousness). When done with the three in focus, the fourth will be accomplished. 

To support a newly-forming statewide group, the Transportation Equity Hui, Brooke used a participatory process to plan a formative evaluation project. Our evaluation team engaged the Hui’s Steering Committee to prioritize the transportation equity issues that they were interested in better understanding and documenting. Priorities included the public bus system, transportation in rural communities, commuting during non-peak hours, and accessing healthcare. We then created an Evaluation Action Group to help us frame a feasible and useful evaluation study around those priorities. Lessons learned reflect the importance of pilina throughout the process.

Lessons Learned

  • While the Steering Committee decided the dimensions of transportation equity to focus the evaluation, we wanted to further engage interested members throughout the evaluation process of designing, implementing, and disseminating findings. We did this by creating an Action Group modeled after the Get Fit Kauai community coalition
  • Similar to community-based participatory research, a CREE approach can be a slow process that centers relationship building. Our formative evaluation project was intended to support the development of a new group as it was shaping its own priorities and structure. The length of time that it took to gather and incorporate feedback meant that we had to be flexible. For example, we adjusted our evaluation plans as changes happened among Action Group members, including job transitions and losing liaisons with community organizations. 
  • The Evaluation Action Group was most active during the early phases of the project. It was hard to maintain (consistent) engagement throughout the evaluation project, especially towards the end. However, thanks to pilina and the strong commitment of our lead community partner, we were able to share the findings back with the community even though it took longer than anticipated.

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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