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Washington Evaluators Affiliate Week: Engaging the WE Community with a focus on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Antiracism by Kantahyanee Murray and Fanni Farago

Hello and welcome to Day 5 of How WE (Washington Evaluators) Met the Moment by Focusing on Equity and Access! We are Kantahyanee Murray (she/her) and Fanni Farago (she/her) and we served together on WE’s Community Engagement Committee in 2021. Kantahyanee is a Senior Associate Director in the Center for Culturally Responsive Engagement at MPHI and had the pleasure of serving as the WE Community Engagement Committee Chair in 2021. Fanni is a new & emerging evaluator and a Sociology Doctoral Student at George Mason University. She also works as a Research Assistant at the Institute for Immigration Research (IIR). In 2021, Fanni served as WE’s New Professional Scholarship Co-Coordinator and is excited to continue her service as the 2022 Community Engagement Chair. 

WE’s Community Engagement Committee includes three programs: Mentor Minutes, Evaluation Without Borders, and the New Professional Scholarship. A group of phenomenal volunteers execute the activities of WE’s Community Engagement Committee programs which are led by the coordinators for each program. WE also invites evaluation faculty in our region to serve as their institution’s University Ambassador to enhance how WE engages students. Community engagement efforts are central to WE’s efforts to take action on our antiracism and diversity, equity and inclusion commitments. This post shares lessons learned from the Community Engagement committee as one component of WE’s journey to take action on antiracism and advance diversity, equity and inclusion. We believe these lessons learned can inform a wide range of contexts.

Lessons Learned:

  • Implementing changes to support equity and access is a team effort & it happens in ongoing dialogues with varied internal and external stakeholders. Following WE’s statement on Embodying Antiracism Principles & Practices in Evaluation, the Community Engagement Committee reflected on its processes and identified areas of growth for infusing its practices and programming with antiracist values, such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). WE’s community, including its volunteers, board members, and past committee coordinators, were vital to the committee’s reflection process, which ultimately led to implementing new DEI driven committee practices. With the start of the new year, the committee will continue to reflect on and improve its practices to uphold its commitments to enacting antiracism in service of WE and evaluation professionals. 
  • Community engagement is a critical tool for expanding access to resources for new professionals and to evaluation services for underserved communities. Community engagement is about building relationships with local stakeholders and being responsive to their needs. Engaging new professionals and students through educational programming, mentoring and career consultation, and the New Professional Scholarship program, provides rising evaluators with vital access points to professional development resources and a supportive community of evaluators. Meanwhile, community engagement with local nonprofits and community-based organizations can foster access to and use of specialized knowledge in service of underserved communities. WE’s Evaluation Without Borders program supports DC metro area organizations and others in underserved communities in need of evaluation services by connecting them with seasoned evaluators. Part of our DEI journey has included identifying new strategies to reach and engage underrepresented and underserved communities.  

Rad Resources:

Check out the Washington Evaluators Strategic Plan 2021-2024 draft to view the ways community engagement plans to enact antiracism in service of WE, evaluators, and DC metro communities and other communities WE evaluators serve.

You can also check out a report by Paragon Education Consulting, Planning Towards Equity: Integrating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Antiracism into Washington Evaluators (2021), to learn more about WE’s journey to enacting its antiracist commitments. WE commissioned Paragon to help bring together the WE community for dialogues about antiracist values and organizational priorities.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Washington Evaluators (WE) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from WE Affiliate 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. 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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