ETB Blogs

From Community Member to Team Member: Welcoming ETB’s New Project Director, Susan Ghanbarpour

Expanding the Bench® (ETB) is delighted to welcome Susan Ghanbarpour, DrPH, MA to the team. Susan will primarily serve as project director. In this role, she will guide the Advancing Culturally-responsive and Equitable (ACE) Evaluation Network and the Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity (LEEAD) Program.

Equity has been a consistent thread throughout Susan’s career and one of her core values. Previously connected to ETB as part of the ACE Evaluation Network and a member of the ETB Advisory Team, she brings with her over two decades of experience in the implementation of CREE, Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), and personal dedication to the work. Read on to learn more about Susan’s background, how she got her start in this work, and how she will lend her expertise ETB.

What drew you to ETB?
That’s an easy one. At first, I joined the ACE Evaluation Network because, as a BIPOC evaluator, it seemed like a great opportunity to gain more access to projects that integrate CREE. But as I learned more about ACE, I got really excited about the field-building pieces and just getting to know more BIPOC evaluators and building relationships with them. Honestly, I don’t think I realized how isolated I was feeling as an evaluator of color and how much I craved spaces where I didn’t have to defend CREE or do “CREE 101” all the time. Then I started hearing about LEEAD, which serves as [an equity-focused evaluator] pipeline but also as a field-building project. I think that’s really important, and the mentoring aspect really appealed to me, too. For much of my career, I’ve been working in either CREE or CBPR frameworks, so I think my main goal is always to support communities in telling their stories in ways that feel meaningful and important to them. That’s really my goal. So when the job came up, it just seemed like the perfect fit and I was excited to get the chance to deepen my relationship with ETB.

What unique skill set sets you apart from others?
I’ve been working a lot on language justice and disability justice in research and evaluation, so part of what I hope to bring is more theory and practice around that to infuse that into the way that people think about CREE. From my background in the gender-based violence field working with culturally specific communities, I bring a lens around gender and racial equity, and how that intersects with other identities, such as immigration and refugee experiences. I’m also really interested in the research justice framework. I want us to be constantly re-examining how mainstream evaluation & research has harmed communities, and what we need to do to shift to community-led approaches. There’s also just my own values of fun and joy and [asking the question], “How do we create social justice movements that are resilient and joyful and inclusive?”

This excerpt was taken from Susan’s full interview with Change Matrix. Read the full blog post here.