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Cultural Competence Week: Melanie Hwalek on the Adoption of the AEA Public Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation – Moving From Policy to Practice and Practice to Policy

I am Melanie Hwalek, CEO of SPEC Associates and a member of AEA’s Cultural Competence Statement Dissemination Core Workgroup. My focus within the Workgroup is to help identify ways to disseminate the Statement and integrate its contents into evaluation policy. AEA’s Think Tank: Adoption of the AEA Public Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation: Moving From Policy to Practice and Practice to Policy gave me three big ideas for doing this.

Lesson Learned: Cultural Competence can be in big “P” policy and small “p” policy. Dissemination of the Cultural Competency Statement doesn’t have to start with federal or state level, big “P” policy change. Small polices like setting criteria for acceptable evaluation plans, for assuring that evaluation methods take culture into consideration, and for ensuring culturally sensitive evaluation products can go just as far – or further – in assuring that all evaluations validate the importance of culture in their design, analysis, interpretation and reporting.

Hot Tip: Start where there is a path of least resistance.Agencies that exist to represent or protect minority interests are, themselves, culturally sensitive. These are the agencies that should easily understand the importance of assuring that the evaluations of their programs should include cultural competence. If you are passionate about infusing cultural competence into municipal, state or federal policy, start with these types of agencies since they are likely to understand the importance of culturally sensitive evaluations. Keep in mind, though, that just because an organization “says” it values cultural competence doesn’t mean the really know how to be and act in a culturally competent way.

Hot Tip: Try to go viral.Infusing cultural competence into policy means that we need to be open to all kinds and levels of policy, much of which is identified only through practice. The lesson here is to start promoting cultural competence to anyone and anywhere evaluation planning, methods, analysis and reporting are discussed. In this networked world, the more people who think and talk about cultural competence in evaluation, the more likely it will find its way into evaluation practice and evaluation policy.

Rad resource: William Trochim wrote an informative article on evaluation policy and practice.

This week, we’re diving into issues of Cultural Competence in Evaluation with AEA’s Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation Dissemination Working Group. 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 comment

  • Karen Anderson · December 5, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    I like your “try to go viral” tip Melanie!

    I was communicating with a professor recently and I definitely slipped in how I could provide information on CC in evaluation resources for students.

    I think it’s important to stay open, and just to be ready at all times to share, at least a nugget, with others about CC in evaluation.

    I particularly enjoyed this session because of the rich dialogue and level(s) of expertise that were in the room.


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