Staff Spotlight: Diane Trunk, Director of Evaluation
Former Managing Attorney Diane Trunk is now LACLJ’s Director of Evaluation. This coincides with our push to build a more robust evaluation system to better measure and to maximize the impact of LACLJ’s services. Get to know Diane and learn more about our evaluation work below!
What is Evaluation?
Evaluation is measuring progress towards a stated goal. It’s measuring results as well as the steps taken toward achieving those results. In evaluation, if it can’t be measured, it didn’t happen. We plan to use the results of our evaluation to learn about and improve LACLJ’s services.
What do you find challenging about evaluation in this field?
So much is challenging – but that is what makes it exciting and interesting. Typically in the legal field, we measure “outputs,” such as how many restraining orders have been obtained or how many immigration petitions were filed. LACLJ is moving beyond that to also measure improvements in the lives of our clients after receiving our assistance. This gets complicated because we adjust our holistic services to meet each client’s unique needs and goals. Sometimes, for example, obtaining a court order isn’t the best way for the client to achieve her goal.
What do we mean by “holistic services”?
“Holistic” refers to our method of delivering legal services on a variety of legal problems, as well as our providing the client with non-legal services through our Community Care Advocates (CCA). CCA help clients with psycho-social education, warm referrals to mental health providers and other community resources, skills building, and emotional support. In this way, we give clients the tools they need to meet their goals beyond their legal issue.
You are a litigator. How did you get interested in evaluation?
In my prior position at another agency, I coordinated a group of domestic violence restraining order clinics across LA County. It was an experimental model, so my team conducted extensive research into the issue of domestic violence as well as the results of our work. We worked with over 4,000 people each year, so we had a lot of data to learn from. It was fascinating and rewarding to step back from our very personal work with individuals and look at the work as a whole. I was hooked. When I heard that LACLJ was planning to do evaluation agency-wide, I couldn’t wait to apply for the job.
Share a fun fact about yourself!
I am a certified yoga instructor. My favorite pose is Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog). It’s great for back and core strength and well as strengthening and stretching the legs – plus I get a refreshing perspective from looking at the world upside-down.