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NMSU faculty member named diversity program scholar

Karen Trujillo, a member of the research faculty in the College of Education at New Mexico State University, was recently named among 20 scholars in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity, or LEEAD, program.


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Karen Trujillo, left, demonstrates the Math Snacks educational game to school children inside the Games Lab. Trujillo, a research faculty member in the College of Education at New Mexico State University, was recently named among 20 scholars in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity program. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

The LEEAD program is part of an effort by the Casey Foundation to increase the ranks of underrepresented researchers of color in leadership positions in the evaluation field. This is the second cohort of LEEAD, a nine-month program launched in 2016 with 15 mid-career scholars from diverse backgrounds and research disciplines.

“I have been doing evaluation on education programs for a few years, but this is providing me with the opportunity to get more formal training to increase my skillset,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo is also the director of the STEM Outreach Alliance Research Lab and is the state director of Educators Rising New Mexico. In the past, she has served as a teacher, an administrator, a researcher, a professional development specialist, grant writer and a project director for National Science Foundation-funded grants.

LEEAD, part of the Foundation’s Expanding the Bench initiative, aims to build a pipeline of diverse researchers to pursue careers in evaluation that will improve outcomes for vulnerable children, families and communities. Increasing diversity in the research and evaluation field improves the knowledge base, makes for better science and helps expand the number of leaders from underrepresented communities who are committed to culturally responsive and equitable evaluation.

LEEAD provides each scholar with a semester of rigorous online evaluation coursework; a mentor with compatible interests who is an established expert in evaluation; and a residency with an esteemed research organization, think tank, foundation or private firm.

“I am excited to be part of this cohort. The courses are challenging, but I am looking forward to learning and the internship is a great opportunity to make connections,” Trujillo said.

Scholars also participate in two in-person gatherings with mentors and other evaluation professionals, covering topics such as making evaluations more culturally responsive, navigating role conflict and contracts and budgeting.

Last year, eight influential evaluation organizations hosted one or more LEEAD scholars, including American Institutes for Research, Child Trends, Harder & Company, Mathematica, ORS Impact, RAND Corporation, the University of Memphis and the Urban Institute.