Waking Lumina: A Personal Principles-Focused Evaluation Framework by Nora Murphy Johnson

I met Michael Quinn Patton in 2012 and spilled out my life story, not unlike I will do with you in the chapter I've shared at the end of this post. At the end of our second meeting, he asked if I’d be interested in working on a project with him—a developmental evaluation with six agencies that serve youth experiencing homelessness and a local family foundation. Um, yes? This developmental evaluation became a principles-focused developmental evaluation and it changed my life.

I had been practicing evaluation since 2003 and for the first time, I realized that I could evaluate in harmony with personal values. I could bring my personal and professional selves into greater alignment and wholeness. Read more about this journey in a chapter I wrote for Patton's book "Principles-Focused Evaluation: The GUIDE."

My chapter: Waking Lumina: A Personal Principles-Focused Evaluation Framework.

It's deeply personal and--as a trigger warning--talks about the death of my oldest child.


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Eval Cafe Episode 32: Evaluation Games With Friends

“What does evaluation offer and what does evaluation need in times of great uncertainty and injustice?” Nora Murphy Johnson and A. Rafael Johnson from Inspire to Change and Chris Corrigan from Harvest Moon Consulting talk about certainty and uncertainty, arts-based evaluation, transformation, and grant cycles. 


Eval Cafe Episode 32

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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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Eval Cafe Episode 25: Makin’ It in Evaluation

A. Rafael Johnson talks about arts-based evaluation and bringing creativity into our evaluation practice. We learn about how Andy has brought poetry, theatre, kinetic sculpture and more into his evaluation methodology, how being a novelist helps him and his clients understand and work in complexity.

Eval Cafe Episode 25

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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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Eval Cafe Episode 21: Evaluating From The Heart

Nora talks about evaluation for healing and change, evaluation as sacred work and a noble calling, and the original Creative Evaluation Cohort. This episode includes a discussion centered around the death of a young child, as well as the effects of systematic racism.


Eval Cafe Episode 21


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