In September, we shared the exciting news that the Annie E. Casey Foundation announced Change Matrix as the new partner for the Expanding the Bench Initiative, which includes the Advancing Collaborative Evaluation (ACE) Network and Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity (LEEAD) program. This month, our team attended the American Evaluation Association’s annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio to support two key events – the ACE Network Luncheon and the LEEAD Culmination event.
During the ACE Luncheon, the Change Matrix team was introduced as the new managing partner for the ACE Network, and had the opportunity to meet in-person several Network members and funders, learn about the excellent work they are doing in support of equitable evaluation and hear ideas around potential next steps for the Network. In addition, London had the opportunity to facilitate a Q & A panel that included Commissioner Elizabeth Albro from the Center for Education Research at the Institute of Education Services; Efrain Gutierrez from the Obama Foundation; Jackie Kaye from Wellspring Philanthropic Fund; and Debra Joy Perez from Simmons College.
Each of the panelists skillfully addressed intriguing questions from Luncheon participants, such as:
- What would give you [funders] the confidence to trust our capacity as evaluators steeped in culturally responsive evaluation and evaluation excellence?
- Can funders mitigate the “speed” and “rush” of the pace of philanthropy to allow for equitable evaluation practice to engage community/beneficiaries?
- How can evaluators help you [funders] de-colonize philanthropy?
- What thoughts/ideas would you [funders] share after considering this scenario? A program is implemented and has results that indicate sustaining the program could change policy for underrepresented groups. More time is needed, which also requires more funding. Sustainability of this program was not discussed in the beginning or along the way. The funding was for 5 years and the 5 years is up.
- Beyond the financial investment, from the philanthropic side, how do you [funders] see your role as collaborators with your evaluators?
- For you or your organization, how does a [evaluation] firm or consultant’s equity lens translate to actual skill sets that you [funders] are looking for in evaluation partnerships?
- What is the primary value-add that you [funders] would hope to achieve by having diverse evaluators as part of your evaluation team?
The LEEAD Culmination Ceremony brought together LEEAD scholars, alumni, mentors, funders, and other supporters to celebrate the 20 LEEAD scholars’ and their mentors’ commitment and accomplishment in completing the LEEAD program. During the ceremony, the Change Matrix team was also introduced as the new managing partner for LEEAD. A special congratulations to LEEAD scholar Noe Chavez and his mentor Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar for receiving the inaugural Debra Joy Perez $25 award!
Throughout the week’s activities at AEA, we had the opportunity to sit down with some LEEAD Scholars and Mentors to hear about their experiences and the connections they have made through LEEAD. These conversations reinforced the value and importance of LEEAD, both in terms of the impact to the field of evaluation and personally to those involved. We appreciated the feedback and suggestions for improvement, as we move forward and build on the strong foundation established by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. We are honored to continue this legacy and we welcome and encourage continued involvement.