This week, we honor the life and legacy of the great Dr. Stafford Hood: evaluator, educator, visionary, truth-speaker, and beloved husband, father, and colleague. This week’s authors pay tribute to Dr. Hood by sharing with us the ways in which he touched their personal and professional lives.
-Liz DiLuzio, Lead Curator
Hi, I’m Dominica McBride, Founder of BECOME and a past student and long-time mentee and co-conspirator of Stafford Hood.
While ineffable, the following words represent just the surface of the depth of influence Stafford Hood had on my life, using my life as just one example of the many lives and minds he shaped.
I first met Stafford while interviewing for the Counseling Psychology doctoral program at Arizona State University. In preparing for this interview, I read about him and his work. Through written word, he introduced the struggle he had as a Black evaluator, the socially critical analysis he often exercised when viewing the field and his experience, and his wide curiosity and intellectual adventurousness. Then, I had the life changing opportunity to match the words and essence with his face and presence. After my interview with him, he called me and said that even if I did not choose to attend Arizona State University, I could still reach out to him for support. That one small moment was a sign for the level of compassion and scaffolding he gave to me and so many others.
I eventually chose to attend Arizona State University, mostly because of Stafford. He became my Advisor, teacher, and mentor. He guided me through learning about evaluation, honing skills in Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE), and conducting my first evaluation – an international evaluation in Tanzania. Through this guidance, he not only taught tangible evaluation skills, like developing relevant evaluation questions and designing data collection methods. He also instilled values of building relationships with the people who were most impacted by the evaluand and experiencing participants’ contexts directly. One of the first examples he gave was, “when you enter into a new town or neighborhood, go to the local bar, sit with the people and talk.” I’d later come to know how much jazz was a background (and foreground) sound track to his life and now imagine him sitting in bars or music venues across the world, enjoying the tantalizing sounds of this genre.
Stafford also gave me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a graduate assistant in the development of CRE through the Relevance of Culture in Evaluation Institute. Here, I conducted contextual analysis around 3 elementary schools in Phoenix, AZ. These rich descriptions were brought into in-depth deliberations and explorations of leading minds in developing CRE. As a student, I took notes and soaked up the insights, ideas, and assertions of people like Melvin Hall, Karen Kirkhart, Rodney Hopson, and Jennifer Greene, all who would eventually become trusted mentors and advisors.
It was these fundamental learnings and experiences that constituted the philosophical foundation of BECOME, a movement building organization that facilitates authentic grassroots community leadership and co-creates strategies and solutions to help communities actualize their collective liberation. At the beginning of the organization in 2013, the first neighborhood I started working with was Auburn Gresham on the south side of Chicago (where we continue and are expanding our work today). Over a year after starting this work in the community, I learned that this was the neighborhood where Stafford grew up. In this past year, I got to interview a childhood friend, visit Stafford’s old home, see where he walked to school, touch a tree he painted over 50 years ago, and visit his high school.
Around Stafford’s retirement, he dove into the development of the Community Evaluation Innovation Lab, an initiative we were co-designing to teach people, starting in Auburn Gresham, how to use data to spark and support the change in their neighborhoods.
I am so humbled and grateful for all he did for, through, and with me. And, I am just one person among the many he catalyzed.
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