NASAA Notes: March 2022

March 1, 2022

NASAA Launches Second Cohort of DEI Mentorship Program to Benefit SAA People of Color

As NASAA continues to offer a growing portfolio of programs and services to support state arts agencies’ diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work, I am pleased to announce that we’ll soon launch the second cohort of the DEI Mentorship Program for state arts agency people of color.

The program is designed to support members of color in our network and assist them in charting 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 (SAAs), and to advance equity and inclusion of people of color across the NASAA network.

The 2018-2019 DEI Mentorship Program pilot was a big success, with mentees and mentors reporting that the program provided a rewarding and valuable experience for them. Mentees felt supported and respected. Some were inspired by being connected to influencers and change makers in our sector. Mentors also appreciated the experience and were open to mentoring others in the future. Several mentorship program pairs reported that they planned to continue to be in touch with each other after the formal program connections ended. Both mentees and mentors overwhelmingly recommended participation in the program to other colleagues.

While there are many ways for an organization serving diverse constituents to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, NASAA’s DEI Mentorship Program includes 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, like implicit bias in organizational structures. A mentorship program is one strategy to help reduce these race related barriers.

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 DEI Mentorship 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 their colleagues. A wonderful way to honor the mentors who helped guide our careers is to pay forward that important work by mentoring others. That’s the reason I personally served as a mentor during the pilot program, and I’m so glad I did. I also believe that SAAs and NASAA benefit from this program because diverse teams that experience inclusion and belonging can be particularly strong teams.

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 interested SAA executive leaders and council members to volunteer as mentors.

In addition to the DEI Mentorship Program, affinity group meetings for people of color are also available. The affinity group meets quarterly and is a members-led group open to all state and jurisdictional arts agency and regional arts organization staff and council members who identify as persons of color. The group serves as a support system and professional development opportunity for its members.

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

Applications for the 2022 DEI Mentorship Program are due Monday, April 4, 2022, by 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Mentor and mentee pairs will be notified by 5:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday, April 25, 2022.

Mentee orientation webinars will be held on Monday, May 2, and Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 4:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern (attend either webinar).

Mentor orientation webinars will be held on Wednesday, May 4, and Monday, May 9, 2022, 4:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern (attend either webinar).

Mentors and mentees will then meet at least once a month by phone or video conference (according to your preference) between May and September 2022.

If you have questions about the DEI Mentorship Program, or if you would like to join the People of Color Affinity Group or attend a meeting, please contact NASAA’s Marisa Summers at or 202-347-6353.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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