2022 NASAA Leadership Awards: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Individual Award

Jean Tokuda Irwin

Arts Education Program Manager, Utah Division of Arts & Museums

Read Jean’s remarks at NASAA Assembly 2022


Photo by Kent Miles

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) has named Jean Tokuda Irwin the recipient of the 2022 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Individual Award. This award recognizes individuals who demonstrate outstanding leadership and tireless efforts in addressing and raising awareness about issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in their state or region. The award will be presented on September 24 during NASAA Assembly 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Jean Tokuda Irwin is a visual arts dabbler, is devoted to kintsugi and believes in the value of tsundoku, global travel, saving this planet and learning. Her work East Went West and Was Lost appeared in the 2002 Winter Olympics Cultural Olympiad Women Beyond Borders; her The Goddess of Hysterectomy was featured in Art Access Gallery and publications; and her The American Way (the story of children who died while detained along the U.S./Mexico border) appeared in Clay, Paper, Scissors Gallery in Laramie, Wyoming.

The arts education program manager for the Utah Division of Arts & Museums (UA&M), Irwin’s professional service includes serving as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and a reviewer for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities Youth Program Awards. She served on NASAA’s Arts Education Leadership Advisory Group and is on NASAA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Arts Education Subcommittee. She is one of six non-Indigenous individuals who served on the Utah American Indian/Alaska Native Education Committee; UA&M/Arts Education is currently in a partnership on the Native American Curriculum Initiative. Irwin was one of three Asian Americans on the Coalition for Minorities Advisory Council to the State Board of Education. While on the National PTA Diversity Committee and board of directors, she piloted dance and film/video for National PTA Reflections, later adopted by the organization. Her awards include the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Individual Arts Award, the Utah Counselor’s Association’s Human Rights Award, the Ruby Chacon Award for Arts & Social Justice, the Sorensen Legacy Award for Lifetime Achievement in Arts Education, a Special Recognition Award from Utah Cultural Alliance, and the 2020 Arts Education Award from Americans for the Arts. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Texas Permian Basin.

“Jean Tokuda Irwin is a servant leader who has consistently brought her knowledge, skill and lived experiences to bear as she addresses and advances diversity, equity and inclusion in Utah and around the country,” said NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux. “A tireless advocate for artists of color, for equity, for fairness and representation, for young people, and for lifelong learners, Jean’s compassion, grit, vision, humor and commitment have made a lasting impact on our field, and beyond. NASAA is truly honored to recognize her as a recipient of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award, and to celebrate her many accomplishments and contributions—her work to include all voices in our nation’s cultural legacy is an example for us all.”

NASAA established the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards to recognize the policies, practices and programs of state arts agencies that embrace and advance diversity, equity and inclusion in their states. NASAA celebrates the diversity that enriches and strengthens our nation, and through this award aims to support and elevate state arts agencies in their efforts to lead in this area. The award for individuals includes $1,000 to be used in support of the recipient’s diversity, equity and inclusion work.

Previous DEI Individual Award Recipients

2020 Carla Du Pree, Maryland
2020 Deonté Griffin-Quick, New Jersey

2022 Leadership Awards Task Force

CHAIR: Carla Du Pree, Former Vice Chair, Maryland
Mary Bordeaux, Chair, South Dakota
Victoria Panella Bourns, Director, Utah
Chris Cathers, Executive Director, Kentucky
Stephanie Conner, Chair, Tennessee
Gary Gibbs, Executive Director, Texas
Abigail Gómez, Former Chair, Virginia
Peter Jasso, Former Director, Kansas
Adriane Jefferson, Council Member, Connecticut
Nola Ruth, Council Member, Missouri
Allison Tratner, Executive Director, New Jersey
George Tzougros, Executive Director, Wisconsin
Bhavna Vasudeva, Council Member, South Carolina