Labor Day Week: Laboring to Make Evaluation More Welcoming, Equitable, and Inclusive

See the original post on the AEA365 blog: https://aea365.org/blog/labor-day-week-laboring-to-make-evaluation-more-welcoming-equitable-and-inclusive-by-nora-murphy-johnson/

I’m Nora Murphy Johnson, CEO of Inspire to Change. In my role as co-curator of this week’s post on the labor of evaluation, I dug deep into Robert Ingle Service Award archives. What did I learn? I learned that the evaluation profession is shaped by members who hold a vision for what evaluation could be, and use their energies, voice, and power to make that vision a reality. Often, this centers on building a professional community that is more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive. They argue that these qualities are essential to evaluation use and rigor.

These four award winners demonstrate how people can work towards a community and practice that is more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive.

Molly Engle, 2009

Molly Engle focused on community-based evaluations, using what she learned...

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Contribution, Leadership, and Renewal: Perspective from a Path Less Traveled

See the original post on the AEA365 blog: https://aea365.org/blog/contribution-leadership-and-renewal-perspective-from-a-path-less-traveled-by-a-rafael-johnson/

My name is A. Rafael Johnson, Director of Creative Evaluation and Engagement, an initiative of Inspire to Change. I’m a novelist, and I’d like to tell you a story of how I came to be an evaluator without training as an evaluator.

In 2010 I taught yoga to a blind orphan in Liberia. I’d arrived as a USAID subcontractor. My NGO was charged with helping rebuild the education system after the end of their long civil war. I reduced the national student:textbook ratio from 5 students per textbook to 4, taught classes of former refugees and combatants, and created a service-learning program. All of this went into the quarterly M&E reports. But in my off-hours, I also worked to get homeless former child soldiers to attend a literacy program, helped college staff learn to...

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A Look at Language Week: (On The Absence of) Whiteness

See the original post on the AEA365 blog: https://aea365.org/blog/a-look-at-language-week-on-the-absence-of-whiteness-by-a-rafael-johnson/

I’m A. Rafael Johnson, Director of Creative Evaluation & Engagement, an initiative of Inspire to Change. I use the methodologies of the arts to gather, analyze, and report data for communities, arts organizations, and non-arts organizations. But I’m a writer and novelist before I’m an evaluator. Words matter to me.

For me, words carry meaning. In fact, words are a type of social contract. Words mean what societies agree they mean, such as benchmark, formative, and reliability. Each word carries a socially agreed-upon meaning that communicates values, emotions, taboos, and power relationships. Some words, such as indicator, meta-evaluation, and qualitative, withhold knowledge from some while transmitting to others.

So instead of retiring a word, I want to encourage evaluators to use a particular word to...

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A Look at Language Week: Words That Make Me Cringe

See the original post on the AEA365 blog: https://aea365.org/blog/a-look-at-language-week-words-that-make-me-cringe-by-nora-murphy-johnson/

Hi! My name is Nora Murphy Johnson, CEO of Inspire to Change.

Our blog posts this week are written by Minnesota evaluators working in justice and equity spaces, focus on words–words to retire, discard, or include. I am writing about words that make me cringe because the “cringe” feeling is a message from my body to my brain. “STOP! Reflect on what you just said.”

Lesson Learned: Some words should make me cringe. Growing up white in the United States, I had the privilege of experiencing the English language as neutral. Many uncomfortable and regrettable experiences have taught me that language is anything but neutral. Language shapes the way I see, think about, talk about, and experience our world. When I don’t interrogate the roots and multiple meanings of words, I risk being complicit in...

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