ACE Evaluation Network Member Highlight: Jessica Presley
With 95 Evaluators and growing in the Network, we are highlighting an ACE Evaluation Network Member each month in sharing their experiences and current projects with the ETB community.
Advancing Culturally-responsive and Equitable (ACE) Evaluation Network Member, Jessica Presley, is a program evaluator trained at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy. She is currently the Senior Director of Evaluation at UAMS – University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and brings a unique perspective for understanding the complex and historical contexts in which programs are implemented in her work. Presley is a member of both the Navajo and Osage Tribes, and has a deep commitment and passion for projects that have direct impact on the communities they serve.
What first attracted you to the ACE Evaluation Network?
I was first introduced to the ACE Evaluation Network and encouraged to apply by network member and esteemed colleague, Christine Velez. I was thrilled to hear of a network of evaluators of color who practice and advance culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE). I had recently moved home to Fayetteville, AR and didn’t have a local network of evaluators to turn to for support. As I set out to learn more about the ACE Evaluation Network, I saw that many of my role models, such as Nicole Bowman, Geri Peak, and Jara Dean-Coffey were network members. I felt it would be a great privilege to work with leaders in the field to advance CREE.
What do you value most about the ACE Evaluation Network?
The ACE Evaluation Network has not disappointed! I have valued the opportunities to learn from others practicing CREE through events that help us connect, grow, and collaborate to advance CREE in the field. Last month I helped launch the Center for Community-Engaged Evaluation at the UAMS. CREE will be at the heart of the center’s mission. I will continue to lean on the wisdom of ACE Evaluation Network members as I work to build the center.
What’s a current project you are working on at the moment?
The ACE Evaluation Network connected me to an opportunity to work with the American Heart Association’s Voices for Healthy Kids. Our team is partnering with community organizations in several states to facilitate community conversations. We have used an appreciative inquiry approach to uncover visions of communities with healthy children, and strategies to move towards these visions. Voices for Healthy Kids will use findings from the conversations to develop toolkits to increase access to early childhood services and programs. I have greatly enjoyed this project and hope this is the first of many successful collaborations to come out of the ACE Evaluation Network.
To learn more about Jessica, connect with her on LinkedIn.