ACE Evaluation Network Member Highlight: Luis Bernal
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, Luis Bernal, is an independent evaluator at Luis Bernal Consulting with substantial experience designing, implementing, and evaluating private and public initiatives for economic growth, local development, private sector competitiveness, entrepreneurship, micro, small and medium businesses promotion, poverty alleviation, international trade, democracy, peace, and social inclusiveness. Luis has worked with youth, women, migrants, and people with disabilities at local, national and multi-country levels particularly in Latin America and the Caribbeans.
What first attracted you to the ACE Evaluation Network?
I was made aware of the ACE Evaluation Network by Dr. Maritza Concha (thanks Maritza!), a fellow evaluator and ACE Evaluation Network Member. What attracted me to the Network were the following considerations: 1) Maritza suggested me to apply and that mattered to me, 2) I believe in the power of networks, 3) I share the values of the Expanding the Bench (ETB) Initiative, and 4) I had experience practicing culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE) (not knowing the acronym at the time) in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa, but none whatsoever in the U.S., so I wanted to learn about it in this country. I had the fortune of being part of the inaugural cohort of evaluators that in 2003 originated the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS) and then in 2009 I created its networking group on LinkedIn, which under my watch grew up to more than 2,000 members from all over the globe. Such experiences along my membership to the American Evaluation Association and other professional networks, have convinced me that networking is a wonderful way not only to meet colleagues, learn from them and explore join possibilities, but also to succeed professionally, particularly for a freelancer like me. That is why I was thrilled when was accepted to the ACE Evaluation Network. Moreover, since my evaluation practice have spun around programs related to underprivileged individuals such as victims of violence, people with disabilities, marginalized women, small-sized business/farms owners, migrants, food insecure families, etc., while using participatory evaluation methods, it was only natural for me as an immigrant, Hispanic, multicultural, and frankly, not-so-young evaluator to wish to join a network, such as ACE, whose core values, and members, champion cultural responsiveness and equity as the axis of their evaluation work.
What do you value most about the ACE Evaluation Network?
The ACE Evaluation Network, through its wonderful staff, numerous members, and well-thought programs and activities have met my expectations. Through ACE, I have learned how what I do in evaluation abroad, with respect to oppressed and marginalized populations, is done in different states and communities of the United States; what the priorities of NGOs and other funders of evaluation are in the U.S, and most importantly, I have had the opportunity of meeting wonderful people of all sorts of cultural and ethnic backgrounds who are committed to advance an equitable ecosystem that prioritizes change and justice. So far, I have not had the fortune of getting any evaluation assignments through the Network, but a couple of times I have been contacted by Funders of Evaluation that support it and for that, I am so grateful.
What’s a current project you are working on at the moment?
As an independent evaluator-freelancer, right now, I am between projects. Recently I finished leading (remotely) the evaluation of a social protection project funded by the European Union and implemented by the government of Turkey and the Turkish Red Crescent, to provide cash-transfer assistance to immigrants from Syria and other neighboring countries. Culturally speaking it was an interesting experience, as it was my first evaluation in a Middle East and Muslim country; a great opportunity to further learning about a country with such rich history, culture and current social and political situation. Likewise, learning to navigate the culture of the bureaucracy in different countries provides a chance to compare it with bureaucracies, government performance and helping those in need among different communities. In fewer words: a great opportunity to grow further personal and professionally.
To learn more about Luis, connect with him on LinkedIn.