American Evaluation Association Building Diversity Initiative Phase I Evaluation

The purpose of the Building Diversity Initiative (BDI) was (1) to improve the quality and effectiveness of evaluation by increasing the number of racially and ethnically diverse evaluators in the evaluation profession, and (2) to improve the capacity of all evaluators to work across cultures. Begun in 2000, a primary outcome of the early stages of the BDI was an action plan identifying 14 recommendations for achieving these goals within the association.

AEA began work on a number of the 14 recommendations, sometimes via board action, other times via committee work, and still other times through its Topical Interest Groups. In a number of cases, many actors contributed to forward movement toward a goal. Some of the recommendations have been fully, or nearly fully, realized. Others have seen little progress for a host of reasons. Prompted by the Diversity Committee, the Board determined that, after approximately five years of work, it was time to take stock and to gain a better understanding of our progress and actions with respect to the BDI recommendations. We wanted to have a common reference point that detailed in one place where we were now, who was involved, and considerations for moving forward. We wanted a better understanding of whether some of the recommendations that had not yet been pursued should now be taken up and whether some of the recommendations that had been pursued were bearing fruit, could provide lessons learned, and/or were in need of further attention. More fundamentally, we wanted information to guide our next steps as we work towards the underlying goal of building an inclusive, diverse, and competent community of practice.

The Board contracted with Geri Lynn Peak and Two Gems Consulting to undertake this Phase I evaluation of the BDI. She was charged with telling the story of where we are now, who was involved, and considerations for the future. Her work is detailed in the report "Tracking Transformation: Evaluating the American Evaluation Association's Building Diversity Initiative - Report of Phase I Evaluation Findings."

Finally, we wanted to give you an update on progress and programs as of October 2008, since data were collected for this report:

  1. The Internship Program welcomed its fifth cohort this month at a opening training in Pittsburgh. (See Recommendation #1)
  2. The Pipeline Students Program was funded for an additional 3 years at the June 2008 Board meeting and is currently recruiting in the Denver area. (See Recommendation #2)
  3. The Minority-Serving Institutions Faculty Program that was originally pursued through the National Science Foundation, was approved in June 2008 for a one-year pilot program to be run in-house by AEA and is recruiting in the Western region of the US. (See Recommendation #3)
  4. The Professional Development Workshop offerings at Evaluation 2008 include Workshop #10: Identifying, Measuring and Interpreting Racism in Evaluation Efforts; #15: Evaluation in Immigrant and Other Cultural Communities; #24: Transformative Mixed Methods Evaluation; and #28: Lenses, Filters, Frames: Cultivating Self as Responsive Instrument, all of which focus on considerations of culture and context. (See Recommendation #4)
  5. Building on lessons learned from the Internship Program, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has provided a grant to the current Internship Director and OMG to provide evaluation training opportunities for evaluators from under-represented backgrounds to increase their competence in evaluation methodologies. The AEA Executive Director sits on the advisory board. (See Recommendations #5 and #7)
  6. The Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation is preparing a final draft of the latest update of The Program Evaluation Standards revision for the American National Standards Institute Review. That Review, and subsequent revisions, will require another vote before proceeding to publication. Building upon the AEA Cultural Reading of the Standards prepared by the Diversity Committee, along with extensive related feedback, the revised standards are infused with significant attention to issues of culture and context throughout. (See Recommendation #11)

At this time, we invite you to download the report by clicking here.