This guest blog post is written by
Sharon Attipoe-Dorcoo, PhD, MPH
Culturally Responsive and Equitable Evaluation: Not Solely a Practice, But a Way of Life
The ebbs and flows of my human existence
Ancestry links my roots to my present
My unique and innate being living with grace
I flow, manifest, and evolve my gifts
Experiences, Journey, Identity, Power
I begin with a tribute to my West African heritage with an Oríkì, praise poetry with roots in the traditions of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. I highlight this art as an important element in my culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE) practice because my lived experiences are closely tied to my identity in many ways. I am a Black mother in the United States with three kids, two of them are Black boys. I am also foreign-born and I do wonder sometimes if I am better off going back to my motherland from the fear of the future of my Black babies in the United States — a home where my everyday work involves providing evidence that will hopefully inform equitable policies, but my advanced degree does not clothe the color of my skin.
The challenge for me is to exemplify vulnerability that is fundamental to the process of speaking my truths into existence. Being a Ghanaian and foreign-born individual in the United States, I spent my teenage years and early adulthood navigating the dichotomy of finding a true home and my place in the world. My sense of identity felt traumatized, and it took deep self-healing practices to unlock my collective identity as a bicultural Ghanaian-American and the many facets of my intersectionality that embody who I am as a human being. These experiences allowed me to tap into the challenge of successful leadership through the art of engagement.
The art of engagement is not always seamless as it entails holding different perspectives in dialogic processes. By bringing diverse perspectives into the process though, there is an opportunity to identify any potential blinders that might impact the implementation of decisions, as well as allow for the collective evidence of the narratives of the people to inform either policies or decisions. Applying CREE practices through engagement approaches ensures that there is a seat at the proverbial table for the representation of various perspectives, as well as honoring both cultural and context-specific needs of communities. I can tap into this gift through my connections with other amazing colleagues in the Advancing Culturally-responsive and Equitable (ACE) Evaluation Network. Additionally, with the established relationships with the funders in the network, I have discussed why and how funders of CREE play a role in institutionalizing CREE practice. Specifically, I have built long-term relationships for further engagement around CREE.
Part of the potential of practicing CREE is stepping bravely into my purpose of tapping into my community. A community that has historically been marginalized by oppressive mindsets, and also one that, for me, is well situated in tearing down systems and structures of oppression to build back up liberated minds and souls that function and thrive in regenerative systems and structures of radical love.
Sharon Attipoe-Dorcoo, PhD, MPH, is a Ghanaian-American wife, mom, author of a children’s book, and an independent consultant and co-principal of TERSHA LLC. Dr. Attipoe-Dorcoo graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center at the Houston School of Public Health. There she worked in partnership with national mobile clinic programs on community-based healthcare models to present evidence to inform policies in this area of care. Dr. Attipoe-Dorcoo has also presented at several conferences, published several poems and articles, led international research and evaluation projects, and co-facilitated virtual trainings. Her academic achievements span different contexts and include international research experiences in her home country Ghana. Dr. Attipoe-Dorcoo has a certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from the University of South Florida and was recently voted as a parent member of the local school council in Forsyth County.
Connect with Dr. Attipoe-Dorcoo on LinkedIn!
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