RT&C Week: Who you are matters in the work by Jara Dean-Coffey

I am Jara Dean-Coffey, I am a descendant of free, stolen and enslaved people. I can trace to the 1600’s on my paternal side my people working, living on and eventually owning land from the territories of the Appomattoc (Westmoreland, Va) and from the 1800’s on my maternal side, working and living on the lands of the Minocan (Nelson Valley, VA) and the Lenape (Cayuga Valley, Ohio). I write this from the territories of the Coast Miwok also known as San Rafael, CA. Preferred pronouns she/her/hers. I founded and lead Luminare Group and the Equitable Evaluation Initiative. I am in the 3rd year of my American Evaluation Association board service. I celebrate my 25th year of marriage this year, own a home, parents married of 50+ still kicking it, together, and have a brother (who has a long term partner). I was born in Philadelphia and grew up in what is euphemistically referred to as the Main Line. I am a Sagittarius, true and true. First born. INTJ. You now have a better sense of who I am. Now what I say or do, can be better put in context, and you can think about how it might differ, compliment, or challenge how you might experience the world and the ways in which we might be in relationship with and to one another.

For us as evaluators (if that is how we define ourselves) trust is an integral element of our work. We tend to lead with our methodological beliefs and execution on method as indicators of our trustworthiness. We (and the markets in which we work) have often placed greater worth on this than the human connection, understanding and experience we have which would allow us to better understand and determine if and what methodological stance and methods might be best, and perhaps, even more importantly how best and with whom best to engage in our efforts. We have become less connected to the humans and thus the humanity of our work. It has made us less relevant, useful and effective (however you wish to define that). 

The word "invitation" in Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish

So this post is really an invitation to think about not only your values (what drives you to do and be in this work) but who are you. What about your life and that of your people do you bring to this work? What should you bring to this work? How would it deepen your understanding of and strengthen your relationships with your client partners, community, whomever it is that you interact with as part of your work? What work might you have to do to get to that place? Being an evaluator is a position of power and responsibility not only to your client partners/ community but to yourself. Bring it all. Find the joy.

This week, we’re diving into issues of  Relationship, Trust, & Connection (RTC) with reflections on the roles they play in evaluation. 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.

1 thought on “RT&C Week: Who you are matters in the work by Jara Dean-Coffey”

  1. Jara, I just had to say how much I loved this post!
    It virtually qualifies you for honorary citizenship of Aotearoa New Zealand, too; is totally the way people introduce themselves back home. 🙂
    Kia ora!

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