NASAA Notes: October 2018


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Pam Breaux

October issue
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October 10, 2018

NASAA Launches DEI Mentorship Program to Benefit SAA People of Color

As you know, NASAA offers a growing portfolio of programs and services that support state arts agencies’ diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work. Our goal is to equip state arts agency (SAA) staffs and councils with resources, training and support systems to advance DEI in their work and effect meaningful change. The latest among these services is a new pilot program: a DEI mentorship program designed to serve our members of color.

While there are many ways for an organization serving diverse constituents to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, NASAA is launching the DEI Mentorship Program with a deliberate focus on race equity, out of recognition that people of color in most sectors (the arts included) face unique barriers to career advancement, such as implicit bias in organizational structures. A mentorship program is one strategy to eliminate or reduce these race related barriers.

NASAA envisions the DEI Mentorship Program as a means to “open a window” on middle management and executive level careers in state arts agencies, so that more of NASAA’s members of color are welcomed and equipped to chart a course toward those roles and successful tenures in our industry. The two primary objectives of the DEI Mentorship Program are to provide professional development for individual members of color as they enter, sustain and advance their careers in state arts agencies, and to advance equity and inclusion of people of color within state arts agencies and across the NASAA membership.

For those of you who are SAA leaders, have you ever considered mentoring someone from our field? Did you perhaps benefit from mentors who provided guidance and support as you managed your career? Some of my most poignant and rewarding moments as a professional were those spent with mentors (oh, so long ago) and more recent moments spent with dynamic young mentees. As you consider mentorship, please keep in mind that NASAA’s new program provides a handy structure and efficient training to help you mentor a member of the SAA family.

Everyone has something to gain in mentor-mentee relationships. Mentees increase their networks and support systems; they receive guidance and are better able to navigate developing their careers. Mentors learn more about newer members of our field and are fulfilled by supporting younger colleagues. A wonderful way to honor the mentors who helped guide our careers is to pay forward that important work by mentoring others. I believe that SAAs and NASAA as a community will also benefit from this program because we’ll be advancing the future of our agencies and opportunities for people of color within our field.

NASAA recognizes the need for a flexible approach to pairing mentees and mentors within a DEI focused program. Some mentees may wish to be paired with a mentor of color to build and benefit from a relationship that intentionally prioritizes shared experiences related to race and ethnicity. Other mentees may seek a mentor relationship in which shared race or ethnicity is a less salient factor than the opportunity to build a new network or achieve a specific professional goal. NASAA therefore invites all interested SAA deputy and executive directors and council members to volunteer as mentors.

Interested mentors and mentees may learn more about NASAA’s DEI Mentorship Program and complete an application form.

Applications for the 2018 DEI Mentorship Program are due Monday, November 12, 2018, by 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Mentor and mentee pairs will be notified by 5:00 p.m. Eastern on Friday, November 30, 2018.

Mentee orientation webinars will be held on Monday, December 3, and Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 3:00-4:30 p.m. Eastern (attend either webinar).

Mentor orientation webinars will be held on Tuesday, December 4, and Thursday, December 6, 2018, 3:00-4:30 p.m. Eastern (attend either webinar).

Introductory phone calls between mentors and mentees, facilitated by DEI Mentorship Program co-coordinators, will take place the week of December 10-14, 2018.

Mentors and mentees will then meet once per month by phone, by video conference or in person (according to your preference) between January and May 2019.

Please e-mail questions about the program to NASAA DEI Mentorship Program co-coordinators Susan Oetgen and Connie Souto-Learman:,

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA

Research on Demand




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