MIE & La RED TIGs Week: Fostering Diversity and Inclusion in AEA Leadership by Eric Barela and Lisa Aponte-Soto

Hello! We are Eric Barela and Lisa Aponte-Soto, AEA Board Members-at-Large and members of the Latinx Responsive Evaluation Discourse (La RED) TIG. Eric is the Director of Measurement & Evaluation at Salesforce.org and Lisa is the Associate Director of Community Engaged Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Latinx population is one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., but we continue to be underrepresented in the workforce, particularly at the executive level. This is important since cultural responsiveness is implicated in the provision of culturally relevant services that have the highest probability of success (Anderson et al., 2003). In order to meet the needs of Latinx-serving organizations, it is imperative to invest in developing a pool of Latinx evaluators capable of leading culturally responsive practices. Increased representation of Latinx voices across the career pipeline, but most importantly in key decision-making, senior leadership positions are essential for conducting sound and useful culturally competent and responsive practices.

Recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusivity in AEA leadership to foster culturally responsive evaluation theory and practice with a Latinx lens, we would like to share our experience and recommendations as Latinx leaders within AEA. We offer the following hot tips for aspiring leaders.

Hot Tip #1: Seek mentorship. AEA is a very open and welcoming community of scholars. You can reach out to a senior scholar in the field and ask them to be your mentor or to shadow them.  Heck, we’re even available if you want to reach out to us.  Don’t be shy!

Hot Tip #2: Learn the process. If you are interested in becoming a leader within AEA, there are plenty of people you can talk to about the process of becoming a leader.  Talk to TIG leaders about their experiences.  Speak with Board members to learn about the application process as well as their journey as a leader for the association. Meet with the AEA President and/or Executive Director for an informational call. Getting to know AEA leadership was influential in shaping our service within AEA.

Hot Tip #3: Volunteer to serve on a TIG. Providing service to a TIG on a committee or in another capacity will allow you to become familiar with the various leadership opportunities the association has to offer.  We both volunteered with TIGs and had some great experiences!

Hot Tip #4: Volunteer to serve on a Task Force or Working Group.  You can also respond to calls for volunteer service on a Task Force or Working Group.  Make sure your volunteer profile is completed (you can access your volunteer profile in the Members menu of the AEA website).  We both recently served on the Guiding Principles Task Force and had a wonderful time.

Diversity and inclusivity in AEA leadership is essential for maintaining an organization that authentically represents all of its members.  We know these tips work because this is what we did to become leaders within AEA.  We hope to see some of you as future AEA leaders!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Multiethnic Issues in Evaluation (MIE) and Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse (La RED) TIGs Week with our colleagues in both the MIE and La RED Topical Interest Groups. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from MIE or  La RED TIG 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.


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