MSI Fellowship Week: AEA MSI Fellow Session held at the 2022 Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana by Negin Fouladi, Dorothy Brandon, Rick Sperling, Leandro Echt

The 2021-2022 AEA MSI Fellows held a session during the 2022 AEA annual conference in New Orleans, Louisiana to discuss the reasons for participating in the Fellowship, what they learned throughout the Fellowship, and impact of the Fellowship on their approaches to evaluation, and opportunities to integrate new frameworks and tools in their teaching, mentoring, research, and consultancy practices.  

This presentation served as the culminating activity of the Fellowship for this cohort who go one to their own work oriented to the requirements of Culturally Responsive and Equitable Evaluation and ready to invest their efforts in expanding the profession through teaching, and training, developing the discipline, and connecting the work of evaluation to the needs of the community as well as the desires of other stakeholders.

Negin Fouladi noted wanting to incorporate culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE) strategies in teaching, program development, and research. She directs multiple graduate programs in public health and health administration with large numbers of diverse students and conducts international research in healthcare. By participating in the Fellowship, she gained the knowledge and skills to further apply practices of representation to promote inclusivity and belonging for students in her graduate program. She also used CREE principles to create and strengthen international research and practice opportunities for students and early career researchers in healthcare.

Dorothy Brandon talked about her roles as teacher, researcher, and evaluator and how the MSI Fellowship facilitated her transition across instructional roles. She further elaborated on how the program not only influenced her evaluation approaches, but how it also affected her personally.  She indicated that through a clearer understanding of Cultural Responsiveness and a stronger awareness of self, she is continuously learning how to become less selfish, less prideful, and more reflective in program development, program evaluation, and with others.

Rick Sperling described evaluator education as a form of nonviolent resistance and encouraged attendees to think about the efficacy of pedagogies that, although non-traditional, ultimately develop future evaluators, respond to authentic community needs, and challenge dominant ideologies. His experience has primarily been in spaces that he does not perceive as welcoming to the development of a critical consciousness despite a majority of the students with whom he works self-identifying as Latinx. He is motivated by writings on fugitive pedagogy and hopes to provide his students with a third choice beyond assimilation and opting out of formal schooling altogether. Through the MSI Fellowship, Rick was inspired to rethink the notion of evaluation as advocacy. His conclusion was that his work might very well have an advocacy element to it, but that in order to survive given institutional climate and his own social identities, he has to operate behind a facade of neutrality.

Leandro Echt shared that he became interested in the MSI Fellowship because he was in a search of ideas, frameworks, tools, and lessons on how to better support the inclusion of vulnerable groups both in his teaching and evaluation practice. In this search for approaches that value diversity, equity, and inclusion in his work, the MSI Fellowship expanded his understanding of Culturally Responsive and Equitable Evaluation and provided a framework to better incorporate traditionally marginalized voices in evaluation efforts.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship Experience week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from AEA’s MSI Fellows. 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. 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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