ACE Evaluation Network Member Highlight: Lisa Aponte-Soto
With 95 Evaluators and growing in the Network, we are highlighting an ACE Evaluation Network Member each month to share their experiences and current projects with the ETB® community.
Advancing Culturally-responsive and Equitable (ACE) Evaluation Network Member Lisa Aponte-Soto, PhD, MHA is the President/CEO and founder of Tanoma Consulting, LLC. Her work focuses on equitable health, education, and workforce practices. She specializes in asset-based community-driven models using mix methods research and evaluation approaches. She facilitates capacity building workshops on culturally responsive practices, leadership, strategic visioning, and quality assurance for diverse organizations. Dr. Aponte-Soto is also an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University where she currently teaches research methods. She has nearly 20 publications and over 50 presentations including workshops and invited lectures on applying of culturally responsive methodology and practices for working with underserved, under-resourced, and vulnerable populations. Dr. Aponte-Soto earned her PhD in Behavioral Science from the Division of Community Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and holds a Master of Health Administration and Policy from Governors State University. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature, Language, and Translation from Loyola University Chicago.
What first attracted you to the ACE Evaluation Network?
I launched Tanoma Consulting, LLC in 2019 to focus on my professional and personal mission to serve historically resilient communities through transformative culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE), research, and capacity building to advance health, education, and workforce equity. Shortly thereafter, several of my colleagues encouraged me to join the ACE Evaluation Network and invited me to a session being hosted by ACE during the American Evaluation Association annual conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was looking to connect with CREE consultants to collaborate with and build my portfolio. Immediately, the Expanding the Bench®(ETB) Team and ACE Members were welcoming and embraced me fully into their community gathering. I felt at home! When the Spring 2020 application for the new cohort of ACE Members launched, my friend and fellow Evaluator, Moctezuma Garcia, PhD, LMSW shared the announcement with me and urged me to apply. Through the application process, I learned more about the ACE Network and its commitment to fostering a community of racially and ethnically diverse evaluators who are dedicated to practicing CREE, and I was even more excited for the opportunity to become a Member. As a life-long learner, I was looking forward to being able to the professional development opportunities, community building activities, and resources offered through the ACE Network. I value the opportunity to engage in dialogue with fellow evaluators who are practicing CREE to leverage our collective knowledge and grow with in service to our communities and social justice.
What do you value most about the ACE Evaluation Network?
Since humbly becoming a Member of ACE, it was evident that ACE was much more than a network, but rather an extended family of like-minded scholars working in service of equity. The Network has provided a space to continue growing and learning with CREE scholars in a safe non-judgmental space while expanding my network. Through ACE, I have gained opportunities to partner and collaborate with new colleagues as well as continue to build my toolkit of CREE resources. Essentially, I have been able to benefit from all of the things that attracted me to the program. However, what has been most valuable about my experience is something that I had not even anticipated. I feel that through ACE, I have regained a sense of myself that have carried over into practicing and championing CREE unapologetically with partners who embrace it. And, most importantly perhaps, ACE has become a celebratory space and a healing space to authentically embrace all parts of my identity.
What’s a current project you are working on?
Currently, I am honored to serve as an Adaptive Change Specialist with Change Matrix for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Transforming Academia for Equity (TAE) initiative. TAE aims to work collaboratively with academic institutions faculty, staff, and students to identify and dismantle racists policies and practices in service of promoting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. It has been rewarding to work with the Change Matrix team and fellow CREE associates from across the U.S. We are in the process of beginning to engage with our institutional partners. For me this is a full circle moment as I previously served as the Deputy Director of the RWJF New Connections Program Increasing Diversity for RWJF Programming, where I had the privilege of supporting scholars from historically underrepresented backgrounds. In this capacity, I had assembled a team of national scholars to inform addressing systemic and structural racism in the academy. I also conceptualized, coordinated, and hosted several regional conversations in Maryland, Florida, Texas, California, and Massachusetts in collaboration with senior administrative institutional leadership and faculty that mirror the work of the TAE initiative. Additionally, having worked in academia and experiencing first-hand some of the challenges Latina/o/x scholars encounter, I value this opportunity to serve as a voice for the Latina/o/x community and advocate for transformative equity in academia.
To learn more about Lisa, connect with her on LinkedIn.