Our Racial Equity Journey

Jump to What Are We Building?—our vision for racial equity in community arts education and our Racial Equity Committee's charge

Jump to Who Is Building It?—the people who have built the foundation for racial equity work at the Guild

Jump to How Are We Building It?—timeline of the work so far, the Guild's external racial equity assessment, and our Racial Equity Guiding Principles and Policies

What Are We Building?

We as community arts educators have a responsibility to prioritize addressing racial injustice as a crucial part of our work. Structural and institutional racism and violence directly impact the people who make up our communities and our organizations. The work to address this includes acknowledging the roots of racial inequity (including within our own organization and practice) and dismantling these inequities by developing and implementing equitable structures, policies, and practices that are rooted in social justice values. Our Racial Equity Guiding Principles and Policies outline the steps we will take moving forward.

We acknowledge that the work of anti-racism is relatively new and emergent for our organization. As we move through this journey, we are committed to continually unlearning, disrupting, and rebuilding as part of our antiracist practice. We are also committed to using a human-centered framework—this work built with people, through relationship, over time.

Racial Equity Committee's Definition of Equity

Racial equity refers to what a genuinely non-racist society would look like; a society where an individual’s racial identity does not inform the distribution of resources and benefits, marginalization or discrimination,  and all people experience psychological and physical safety.  Racial equity holds society to a higher standard, it demands that we pay attention not just to individual-level discriminination, but to overall institutional, structural and systemic racism.

Racial Equity Committee Charge

The responsibility of the Racial Equity Committee is to:

(i) provide guidance and expertise to the entire organization and its members in order to actualize the Guild’s core value of equity through the development of racial equity goals, metrics, and accountability and implementation plans.

(ii) investigate, understand, and acknowledge the roots and realities of racial equity and inequity within American society in general and within the National Guild organization and the community arts education field specifically.

Based on this understanding, the committee will chart a course to dismantle racially inequitable practices within the organization, within its membership, and within the community arts education field by recommending and implementing alternative racially equitable structures, systems, policies and practices.

Who Is Building It?

Our board's Racial Equity Committee, which is made up of trustees and staff liaisons, is working alongside staff in reimagining a national vision for community arts education that is bold and deeply rooted in our values and accountability to the field. 

We are also building upon the immense contributions of many people, including current and former BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and other people of color) staff, board members, and program partners, as well as white allies in the organization.

In our timeline of work below, we recognize many of the individuals who have made significant contributions to creating a foundation for racial equity as ALAANA leaders, Racial Equity Committee members, CAELI faculty, and staff. You can read a list of all members of the Racial Equity Committee (past and present) here.

We want to extend a special thanks to the following people for their extensive work and far-reaching impact: Nicole Amri, Sandra Bowie, Rodney Camarce, Jeannette Tremblay Chambers​, Ama Codjoe, Lara Davis, Quanice G. Floyd, Derrick Gay, Ashley Hare, James C. Horton, Karen LaShelle, Lissette Martinez, Indi McCasey, Robyne Walker Murphy, Dan Reilly, Fern Renville, Kwame Scruggs, Renee Smith, DeLashea Strawder, Marie Tai, and Leslie Thomas. 

How Are We Building It?

The graphic below outlines the Guild's racial equity work to date. This timeline is not exhaustive, but includes some key points in the process. You can find more information about some of the points in the timeline below, including a link to our external racial equity assessment and graphics illustrating our Racial Equity Guiding Principles and Policies.

Racial Equity Timeline. 2015: Board & staff trainings on racial equity; increased focus on racial equity in programming. 2016: ALANNA member network formally established. 2017: Equity becomes a core value of the organization. 2018: Racial Equity Committee formed; staff racial equity trainings & peer learning. 2019: Hewlett grant for racial equity assessment by Equity Literacy Institute. 2020: Creation of Racial Equity Principles and Policy Statements. 2021: Implementation of Racial Equity Strategic Action Plan to accomplish goals for each of the 5 principles.

2015: Board & staff trainings on racial equity; increased focus on racial equity in programming

2016: ALAANA Member Network established

In 2016 Robyne Walker Murphy started the ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American) Member Network with the support of James C. Horton, and with Lara Davis and Rodney Camarce as its first co-Ambassadors. This group of leaders, along with the Network's founding steering committee which included Leslie Thomas, Nicole Amri, DeLashea Strawder, Marie Tai, Kwame Scruggs, Renee Smith, and Fern Renville, did an immense amount of labor to build a space that centered the needs and opportunities of artists and administrators of color within Guild membership and the broader community arts education field, as well as to hold the Guild and its membership accountable in the fight for racial justice.

2016: Racial equity becomes a focus of CAELI

Starting in 2016, first as faculty member and then as Co-Director of CAELI (our leadership development institute), Ama Codjoe worked to make racial equity the framework for the program and for our alumni network. Her collaboration with the Guild on CAELI and other programs played a foundational role in strengthening and clarifying the Guild's commitment to racial equity as an organization.

2017: Equity becomes a core value of the organization; White Allies Group formed

Equity was officially added to the Guild's organizational core values in 2017, due in large part to the leadership of Sandra Bowie (Trustee). A White Allies Group was also established as a Member Network.

2018: Racial Equity Committee formed; staff racial equity trainings and peer learning

The Racial Equity Committee formed as a standing committee of the board in 2018. See a complete list of Committee members and staff liaisons past and present here. Staff racial equity trainings and peer learning continued.

2019: Hewlett grant for racial equity assessment by Equity Literacy Institute

In 2019, the Equity Literacy Institute (ELI) conducted an external racial equity assessment of the Guild, with support from the Hewlett Foundation. Based on this assessment, recommendations were made to move the organization toward anti-racist policies and practices. You can read about ELI’s findings and recommendations below:

National Guild racial equity assessment report

2020: Creation of Racial Equity Principles and Policy Statements

Drawing from the assessment and recommendations, the Racial Equity Committee and Guild staff developed a set of Racial Equity Guiding Principles and Policy Statements in 2020. This was a collaborative process involving lots of work from many people, with Sandra Bowie, Karen LaShelle, and Derrick Gay (Co-Chairs of the Racial Equity Committee) and Ashley Hare (Director of Leadership Development) playing a particularly large role in driving this work forward. These principles and policies were then officially approved by the board as an addendum to the governing by-laws of the organization. The graphics below illustrate the Racial Equity Guiding Principles and Policy Statements.


Racial Equity Guiding Principles. 1: Prioritization of those most impacted—Centering the self-identified needs of those continuously impacted by injustice. 2: Redistribution of power—Eliminating oppressive aspects of institutional culture. 3: Direct Confrontation—Building strong practices to stand in solidarity and address racist words and actions. 4: Reparation & advocacy—Amends for egregious injustices due to the lingering legacy of slavery. 5: Transformation of self—Taking personal responsibility for continuous learning and unlearning.


Racial Equity Policy Statements for Guiding Principle 1: Prioritization of those most impacted. 1: Advocate for equity and social justice for BIPOC communities and organizations. 2: Build intentional relationships with BIPOC leaders—and organizations that are accountable to BIPOC communities—to affect positive social change. 3: Redress unequal power relations and stereotypes that structure mainstream cultural institutions. 4: Correct the historical underinvestment in BIPOC artists, cultural communities, and organizations.


Racial Equity Policy Statements for Guiding Principle 2: Redistribution of Power. 1: Reverse long-term inequities in funding, hiring, and resources in the National Guild and in the arts & culture sector. 2: Share power on all levels of the Guild. Share power with BIPOC cultural groups in determining mission, structure, constituency, policies, and practices. 3: Support, recognize, and prioritize leadership of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color. 4: Policies and processes rooted in sharing and equalizing power to create new equitable solutions, innovations, and insights to benefit us all.


Racial Equity Policy Statements for Guiding Principle 3: Direct Confrontation. 1: Hold space for difficult conversations and solution-seeking about systems of oppression and racism. 2: Listen to those who raise concerns, even if it makes waves. 3: Along with stakeholders from every area of our organization, routinely review, assess, and align the Guild with our mission, vision, and values with a focus on racial equity. Be transparent regarding internal challenges. 4: “No meeting about us without us”. People of color should not be a minority at the table.


Racial Equity Policy Statements for Guiding Principle 4: Reparation and Advocacy. 1: Black Lives Matter. Stand and advocate for the sanctity and humanity of Black lives, and for the people suffering and acting for the creation of an anti-racist world. 2: Stand with and advocate for federal and state reparations to provide economic amends for egregious injustices due to the lingering legacy of the enslavement of Afircan Americans. 3: Advocate for and take action toward equity in arts education for Black students, including equity in leadership and teacher and teaching artist participation. 4: Advocate for equitable funding for arts organizations operated by and for African Americans. Seek and provide resources for these organizations, and make membership fully accessible for those who wish to join.


Racial Equity Policy Statements for Guiding Principle 5: Transformation of Self. 1: As a historically white led and white serving organization, we recognize that in order to transform we should be learners and creators of cultural and racial equity. 2: Routinely provide anti-racist learning opportunities for board, staff, and membership to deepen consciousness of oppression and expand personal commitment to acting as agents of social change.

Read our full Racial Equity Guiding Principles and Policies document

2021: Implementation of Racial Equity Strategic Action Plan to accomplish goals for each of the 5 principles

In 2021, we began to implement a Racial Equity Strategic Action Plan to accomplish our goals in relation to each of the 5 Racial Equity Guiding Principles, as well as a business plan to support this work. We will continue to share our progress, for the purposes of accountability, transparency, and co-learning.

Racial Equity Committee Members, Current and Former


Sandra Bowie (chair)

Karen LaShelle (chair)

Gayle Morgan

Duffie Adelson

Nancy Ng 

Sofia Fojas

Derrick Gay (former)

Roma Calatayud-Stocks (former)

Lecolion Washington (former)

Myran Parker-Brass (former)

Darren Isom (former)


Staff Liaisons 

Ashley Hare

Heather Ikemire (former)

Lissette Martinez (former)

Quanice Floyd (former)

Drew Malmuth (former)


Advisory Group

Nicole Amri (former)

Rodney Camarce (former)

Lara Davis (former)

James C. Horton (former)

Indi McCasey (former)

Jose Ochoa (former)

Davin Pierson Torre (former)

Jen Tremblay Chambers (former)