Advancing Equity Through Evaluation: A Dialogue Across Across Different Standpoints

Session Number: 1827
Track: Theories of Evaluation
Session Type: Panel
Tags: equitable evaluation, equity, Foundation evaluation
Session Chair: Valerie Jean Caracelli [Senior Social Science Analyst - U.S. Government Accountability Offi]
Discussant: Jennifer C Greene [Professor - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]
Presenter 1: Jara Dean-Coffey, MPH [Founder and Principal - jdcPartnerships]
Presenter 2: Leslie Cooksy [Evaluation Director - Sierra Health Foundation]
Time: Oct 27, 2016 (01:00 PM - 01:45 PM)
Room: M303

Abstract 1 Title: Standpoint: Equity-Focused Evaluation Champion
Presentation Abstract 1: Jara is an independent consultant who is a strong advocate for equity-focused evaluation, particularly in the non-profit and philanthropic sector. In Raising the Bar – Integrating Cultural Competence and Equity: Equitable Evaluation (Foundation Review 2014). Ms. Dean-Coffey states that the act of evaluation is itself an intervention and as such explicit attention to equity is paramount when evaluating a program whose goals touch on issues of equity or inclusion. This moves beyond considerations regarding methods to include axiology, epistemology and ontology.
Abstract 2 Title: Standpoint: Open-minded, but Skeptical Evaluation Practitioner
Presentation Abstract 2: Leslie is an internal evaluator in a foundation. She questions the utility of labeling evaluations with specific values rather than holding all evaluations to agreed-upon standards, such as those expressed in the Guiding Principles for Evaluators. At the same time, she hopes this dialogue will give her insight into how to increase the equity focus of her evaluation practice, even in contexts with more traditional values.
Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract: 

Evaluation design and evaluation practice are based on values, sometimes explicit (e.g., empowerment evaluation, utilization-focused evaluation, democratic evaluation) and other times muted or masked by methodological descriptors (e.g., mixed-method evaluation). Recently, evaluators have been called to place the value of equity at the core of evaluation design and practice (see, for example, the resources at This session offers a dialogue between Jara Dean-Coffey, an advocate for equity-focused evaluation, and Leslie Cooksy, an interested and open-minded, but somewhat skeptical, evaluator, followed by reflections from Jennifer Greene, who has written extensively about values-engaged evaluation. The dialogue and reflections will consider what defines equity-focused evaluation, why evaluation frameworks or approaches do or do not need explicit naming of the values being promoted, and how equity can be advanced through evaluation design in evaluations of evaluands that are not equity-focused, as well as those that are.