ETB Blogs

ACE Evaluation Network Welcomes 9 New Evaluators

This fall, Expanding the Bench® (ETB) welcomes nine new Members to the Advancing Culturally-responsive and Equitable (ACE) Evaluation Network — a community of professionals whose mission is to both drive and support the practice of excellent, culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE). The ACE Evaluation Network is committed to supporting and strengthening relationships and creating and increasing equitable opportunities for racially and ethnically diverse Evaluators who have historically been underrepresented or marginalized in the U.S. and sovereign Tribal nations.

The ETB Team is excited about the breadth of experiences each of them brings to inform and influence the ETB community and evaluation ecosystem. Read on to learn more about the stories and lived experiences of the new Network Members.

Andrew Muriruki (He/Him/His) 

Andrew Muriuki has a PhD in Social Work from the University of Missouri-Columbia and completed his post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Addiction and Behavioral Health Research (CABHR), and completed his early education in Kenya. He has worked with Save the Children USA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison to evaluate the impact of community-based approaches on care for vulnerable children. Past research has included the impact of community caregivers (parasocial and health workers) on vulnerable children care, the gap in access to service for girls in Côte d’Ivoire, factors and paths to the exploitation of vulnerable girls in large urban centers, and an investigation of the gender differences in collective action in households affected by serious illness (e.g., HIV/ AIDS, TB) in Western Kenya. Culture and traditional practices have had a big influence on the intervention outcomes and the evaluation reports. Currently, Andrew is working with several African mental health practitioners and researchers in North America to support mental health needs during a surge in demand for mental health in many parts of Africa. 

Angelique Day (She/Her/Hers) 

Angelique currently serves as the project investigator for the evaluation of four grants funded by the Administration for Children and Families designed to improve placement stability, permanency, child well-being, and family well-being of children and their extended family networks. These grants include the collection and analysis of focus groups, surveys, and state (or Tribal) administrative data. Current Tribes that she is working in now under these projects include Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina, Salt River Pima Maricopa Tribe of Arizona, and two tribes in Washington State: Yakama Nation and Port Gamble Skallum Tribe. Angelique has broad training and experience in the field of child welfare policy and practice, with particular emphasis on older youth who are placed out of home, kinship care, and the Indian Child Welfare Act. Her interest in kinship care has evolved from her previous work conducted with this population during her master’s level and PhD training, and her work as an early career scholar.

Arthur Hernandez (He/Him/His) 

Dr. Hernandez, NCSP, NCC, completed his advanced study in Educational and Clinical Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction, and his scholarship focuses on defining, describing, implementing, and evaluating culturally responsive and community-based practice. His commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is demonstrated by work focusing on cultural responsiveness and respect for the conduct of technically valid and appropriate evaluations — advancing the idea that culturally responsive and equitable evaluation is not solely a matter of social justice, but necessary for authenticity and accuracy. He is a strong advocate for standards-based practice and regularly contributes to the review and development of standards for practice that underpin the goals of a “just society,” the value of persons, and well-designed and implemented evaluation in the service of decision-making. In addition to serving as director of the AEA Minority Serving Institutions program, he is a member of the international Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation, serves on the Advisory Team for the LEEAD Program, and completed his term on the RISE Advisory Board, a field advancement effort that aims to better understand and strategically improve the lives and outcomes of boys and men of color in the U.S.A. 

Deepika Andavarapu (She/Her/Hers) 

Deepika Andavarapu, AICP, PhD, is the founder and CEO of DEEP Consultants. Dr. Andavarapu is an urban planning scholar, community researcher, and evaluator working with government, nonprofits, and other philanthropic organizations. She is a strategic systems thinker designing long-term solutions with an emphasis on results and measuring impact. Deepika has over sixteen years of experience working with the public sector and philanthropy over many social justice issues. As a researcher, she has produced trailblazing scholarship related to social capital’s role in the resilience of disenfranchised communities such as slums. She is a published author and a public speaker who also presented her research at a TEDx conference. Dr. Andavarapu is an intersectional scholarly practitioner who brings academic rigor and expertise to the nonprofit world. She designed and implemented rigorous impact evaluations that meet the guidelines of federal and state grants such as CNCS, HRSA, etc. She conducted landscape assessments that included issue mapping, policy mapping, data mapping, and stakeholder interviews to assess the state of knowledge around a topic. In 2018, she received the Rising Star award from Cincinnati’s YWCA and went through rigorous leadership and DEI training, and has held many local and national leadership roles. 

Gabriela Betancourt (She/Her/Hers) 

Gabriela Betancourt, DrPH, MPH, MA is a trained epidemiologist, program evaluator, and public health researcher. She has investigated sexual and reproductive health (SRH) inequities and healthcare access barriers. Dr. Betancourt has focused much of her work to elevate the needs of communities disproportionately left vulnerable by societal and structural factors, particularly immigrant Latinx populations, that affect an individual’s and a community’s ability to effectively utilize healthcare services. Her areas of expertise include mixed method studies, needs assessments, secondary data analyses, outcome and impact evaluations, focus groups, and semi-structured guided interviews. Her contributions to science outline the needs of communities of color, women, and men who have sex with men (MSM), and community/provider engagement utilizing culturally responsive and anti-racist strategies. Dr. Betancourt received her Doctor of Public Health in Epidemiology from the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (SPH), having successfully defended her dissertation examining the association of out-of-home placement and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes among child-welfare involved youth and families. She is a proud Latina born to working-class immigrant parents; her first language is Spanish and she learned English in kindergarten. At heart, she is still a scrappy gal from the Bronx. 

Hyojin Im (She/Her/Hers) 

Hyojin Im, PhD is an associate professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work. She received her PhD in Social Work from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and completed her postdoctoral training at the Mack Center on Mental Health and Social Conflict at the University of California Berkeley. Her research is centered around the intersection between trauma and culture, focusing on how local/cultural ontologies of mental health shape trauma expressions and coping in the community and vice versa. She is also passionate about linking local and global practices and policies for seamless refugee programs and sustainable mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), and interventions for culturally marginalized communities. Partnering with various national and international agencies (such as the Center for Victims of Torture, UN Agency for Refugees, International Organization for Migration, USAID, the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, etc.), she has been promoting community capacity and partnership for mental health and psychosocial support for refugee communities in both domestic and international settings. In the U.S., she has worked with several state-wide refugee mental health programs and designed and implemented community-based wellness interventions and peer-led initiatives for culturally responsive trauma-informed care for refugee newcomers. 

Mindelyn Anderson (She/Her/Hers) 

For 21 years, Dr. Anderson has researched social inequality, stratification, race, migration, education, social mobility, and health. Prior to founding Mirror Group, Mindelyn served as the program director of the Master’s of Science in Measurement and Evaluation at American University, Honors Faculty in Residence and Assistant Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Northeastern University, and Marilyn Yarbrough Fellow at Kenyon College. Her scholarship has been supported by sponsors including the NSF, NEH, and NIH. Dr. Anderson has also held fellowships at AIR and Mathematica Policy Research. She has conducted evaluations with and provided technical assistance and training for philanthropic, community-based, regional, national, and international non-profit, for-profit, and educational organizations. Her utilization-focused, participatory evaluation practice is informed by culturally responsive and racial equity evaluation and values equity, systems change, and transformation as integral components of consulting. In addition to leading evaluation, learning, and strategy at Mirror Group, she currently serves as chair-elect of the AEA IC TIG, Washington Evaluators’ co-coordinator of Evaluators Without Borders, and reviewer for the American Journal of Evaluation. Mindelyn’s happy place is co-creating the art and science of making data and evaluation meaningful, accessible, and actionable with learning organizations and the communities we love. 

Nitya Venkateswaran (She/Her/Hers)

Nitya is an evaluation researcher in RTI’s Transformative Research Unit for Equity. For the past 7 years, she has directed a variety of evaluation projects examining the implementation of educational programs aimed at transforming youth and adult outcomes for minoritized communities. As a cisgender, brown, Indian-American woman, her calling for racial justice started at a young age when she recognized the lack of belonging as a “perpetual foreigner” but also the privilege that she experienced having a father with a PhD. Being bicultural and experiencing both privilege and discrimination shaped her passion for social justice and provided a window into how cultural perspective shapes our worldview. That is why she has dedicated her professional career to educational equity and why she is passionate about embedding CREE through various phases of the evaluation. Nitya brings a systems lens to her work to ensure that the evaluation research questions and findings ensure that the onus to change is not on the students, but systems. She co-constructs the evaluation focus and design with program implementers and people with lived experience to shift power away from the client and ensure that the study is shaped by the needs of those most impacted by the research. 

Ryoko Yamaguchi (She/Her/Hers) 

Dr. Ryoko Yamaguchi has 30 years of experience in K-12 education as a practitioner and researcher. She specializes in utilizing, explaining, and communicating research, data, and the junction of policy, practice, and research, and has taken part in multiple practitioner-researcher partnerships focused on school improvement and college and career readiness. Dr. Yamaguchi is trained as a quantitative social scientist, spending over 20 years researching schools and programs as protective factors for at-risk youth. Her methodological expertise is in quantitative methods including designing experimental and quasi-experimental studies for diverse settings, creating survey instruments, collecting quantitative data (e.g., surveys, administrative, and behavioral coding), and conducting data analyses — particularly various applications of hierarchical linear modeling (e.g., value-added models, growth curve analysis, hierarchical generalized linear models, multi-level power analysis). She specializes in designing rigorous studies that can be successfully implemented with stakeholder buy-in in school settings. 

Full profiles of all Network Members can also be found in the Evaluator Database by logging in or creating a free user account.