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How one group is building a focus on DEI into everything it does

Association began overhaul of its governance through an inclusion lens in 2018


Young Woodruff

July 9, 2021
By Kathryn Walson

The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020 was a wake-up call for many associations. But the American Art Therapy Association's reckoning with diversity, equity and inclusion came several years before.

On former President Donald Trump's Inauguration Day in 2017, then-Second Lady Karen Pence announced that she would shine a "spotlight on the mental health profession of art therapy," according to a New York Times report. AATA's leaders met with Pence and spoke at the press conference where she launched her art therapy initiative. But the association's engagement with the wife of Vice President Mike Pence quickly proved to be divisive, both because of her connection to the Trump administration and her husband's conservative stance on social issues.