Employee Spotlight - Sarafina Robinson

Photo of Sarafina Robinson
Thursday, February 2, 2023
What is your current role at Yale University? 
I work as an Evaluation Coordinator at The Consultation Center at Yale. 
What are your main responsibilities? 
My main function is to facilitate program evaluations that align with the Center’s mission to promote health and wellness and enhance equity and social justice. I work in conjunction with Yale faculty and staff, who are also program evaluators at The Consultation Center. We develop program logic models, devise strategic program evaluation plans, and collect and analyze data to understand the processes and effectiveness of mental health service systems and public health initiatives throughout the state of Connecticut. 
What do you like most about your work? 
This work allows me to remain curious, analytic, and collaborative when working internally with fellow program evaluators and externally with community-based clients. I am an intrinsically curious person, and I am motivated by continuous improvement processes. Working in this role allows me to lean into these inherent interests and develop new skills with each project I support. 
 How does your job affect your general lifestyle? 
My job prioritizes communal health and wellness, which is something I prioritize both professionally and personally. Outside of my job at Yale, I am an avid gardener, advocate for the performing arts, and a trainee in a graduate program for Mental Health and Wellness Counseling. I strive to make space for the elements in life that bring me joy and promote mental health and wellness. It is important that I make space for my professional role and personal interests concurrently without feeling the need to compromise one for the other. This job allows me to do just that. 
How did you begin your career? 
I began my career at The Consultation Center at Yale last year. I have worked as a program evaluator, in some capacity, for nearly six years. I was introduced to the tenets of community-based program evaluation while studying Community Psychology at the University of New Haven. Those studies are responsible for me beginning a career in this field.
What steps would you recommend one take to prepare to enter this field?
For anyone interested in the field of community-based program evaluation, I would recommend learning about, practicing, and applying social science-related research and evaluation methods. These are skills I lean on each day in this role. I would also recommend connecting to professional networks such as the Society for Community Research and Action and the American Evaluation Association in addition to our staff and faculty at The Consultation Center. The cross-sharing in this field is vast, and we are constantly adapting to ensure principles of social equity and justice are reflected in our work. Lastly, I would recommend taking risks. Program evaluation requires an inquisitive view of various programs and/or systems. It is important to take risks by being creative, remaining innovative, and collaborating with others in meaningful ways.  
What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job/this field?
Effective communication, collaboration skills, and knowledge of research and evaluation methods are essential to success in this job role. 
If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change? 
Yes, I would remain open to this work path in the same way I was open to it while studying Community Psychology. I have become increasingly interested in providing direct-care support as a mental health counselor while working as an evaluator. As such, I look forward to dovetailing the two work paths (mental health counseling and program evaluation) in some way in the near future.     
What does YAAA mean to you and how have you contributed as a member?
YAAA is the community I did not realize I needed when I first started in my role at Yale a year ago. Ironically, I had attended several YAAA in previous years as a community resident. YAAA has assumed a major role in my life and has contributed greatly to my sense of work-satisfaction at Yale. YAAA is an affirming space where I feel seen, heard, and validated as an African American woman. I have attended several virtual YAAA events and had the opportunity to facilitate a discussion with Marita Golden, author of the book The Strong Black Woman: How a Myth Endangers the Physical and Mental Health of Black Women, for Mental Health Awareness Month this year. I am grateful for all the opportunities YAAA offers to actively engage in our community.