I cannot tell you how irritating it is when a non profit organization presents itself to the public, donors, events sponsor or prospect that they serve a wide ranging community only to find their board filled with the same faces and devoid of diversity in any way shape or form. My distaste for this has been well documented and the list of organizations guilty of this goes on and on, looking at you Lincoln Park Zoo & your Women’s, Aux, big Board, RUSH Medical Woman board, Northwestern Medical Aux board to start with.
It seems a higher organization is sick of it too and several Chicago area Museums are part of a new initiative to make change happen. The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), backed by $4 million in grants from three foundations (The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Alice L. Walton Foundation, and Ford Foundation) will launch “Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity & Inclusion,” an initiative that will provide the framework, training, and resources for museum leaders to build inclusive cultures within their institutions that more accurately reflect the communities they serve and its selected 51 museums across the country for the program.
“Building a more inclusive museum field is achievable only with museums trustees and leaders committed to long-term change and improvement,” said Laura Lott, president and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums. “Museum boards, in particular, set the tone for their institutions and are well positioned to be agents of change. We commend the museum directors and trustees who have committed to this program for investing in their own operations and serving as models for all museums.”
The 13 Chicago area museums representing a cross-section of museums of all types and sizes, that were selected for the “Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity & Inclusion,” program includes: Adler Planetarium, Aurora Regional Fire Museum, Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago History Museum, DuSable Museum of African American History, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Lincoln Park Zoo, Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of the Grand Prairie, Naper Settlement, Oak Park River Forest Museum, and Shedd Aquarium. 10 diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) fellows will also work with AAM to implement trainings and support the museum boards in developing sustainable and measurable inclusion plans. Other communities participating in the program include the San Francisco Bay Area; Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth; Jackson, MS; and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Earlier this year, as part of the Facing Change initiative, AAM announced an Excellence in DEAI Task Force charged with developing recommendations to embed diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion more deeply into AAM’s excellence programs. The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the only organization representing the entire scope of the museum community, today unveiled the names and locations of the museums taking part in AAM’s unprecedented national initiative to diversify museum boards and leadership—including thirteen institutions in Chicago. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field.
There’s a realized need for action. In 2017, AAM and BoardSource examined museum board leadership and found a disconnect in the area of diversity and inclusion. The survey revealed that nearly half (46%) of museum boards are entirely white, 77% of museum directors believe expanding the racial and ethnic diversity of their boards is important to advancing their missions, but only 10 percent of museum boards have developed a plan of action to become more inclusive. A recent survey by the Mellon Foundation demonstrated that employment in the US museum sector does not reflect the makeup of the communities these institutions serve, despite decades of local and national efforts. AAM’s field-wide diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) initiative responds to extensive and multi-year research that underscores the need and desire for change.
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pronounced: Boh-la-jee, like the Bellagio but w/o the O. SLC Editorial Director, loves to write about topics at the intersection of career and lifestyle for today's young professional and future leaders.