AIC was incorporated in 1972 by a group of white conservation professionals to represent a largely white field. Since then, the demographics of the association and foundation, and particularly leadership, have remained fairly homogeneous, reinforcing the existing power structures in the field of cultural heritage preservation and reflecting the pervasive inequity in the United States. AIC and FAIC’s boards and staff recognize that the homogeneity of organizational leadership has upheld systemic barriers in the organizations' governance and operations.
The boards and staff are committed to dismantling these barriers that prevent AIC and FAIC from being just, inclusive, and welcoming organizations that meet the needs of diverse practitioners. Boards and staff are also committed to expanding the organizations and the profession to include those who have been historically excluded from the field and to supporting the preservation of underserved and historically marginalized communities’ cultural heritage. The resolve to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) relies on direct action by AIC and FAIC's board members, staff, volunteer leaders, and association members.
Board and staff acknowledge that they must:
implement more equitable governance
- review policies, procedures, guidelines, and charges with a DEIA lens
- support the work of AIC's Equity and Inclusion Committee
- create more grant and scholarship opportunities for underrepresented members
- initiate programs on DEIA topics and encourage programming through a DEIA lens
- provide support for member-led DEIA initiatives
- improve accessibility in AIC and FAIC's programs, communication, and publications
- create guides and tools to promote inclusive in-person and virtual work and meeting spaces
Board and staff have outlined actions being taken throughout both organizations and identify areas for growth below. This page will be updated and expanded as new projects and initiatives arise.
The AIC and FAIC Boards and staff are committed to improving DEIA within our organizations and the larger cultural heritage field, including at the board level. The AIC Board is creating a board diversity plan to identify action items and prioritize initiatives for more inclusive governance. In recognition that past practices and guidelines do not sufficiently promote equity, the AIC Board has initiated reviews of the Bylaws, the Code of Ethics, and the AIC professional membership eligibility and application process. These reviews focus on how AIC is structured and governed, who is eligible for leadership roles, and how the organization can best serve all members. The AIC Board is actively working on a stakeholder-engaged strategic planning process to guide the organization for the next three years. The AIC Board crafts and solicits position papers and statements expressing organizational stances on DEIA topics, with the assistance of members. These include the revised Position Statement on Contested Commemorative and Confederate Monuments. The FAIC Board is also engaged in supporting FAIC’s core value of equity and inclusion.
Equity and Inclusion Committee
AIC’s Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC) was created to “formalize our commitment to the issues of equity and inclusion within the organization and the field of conservation at large.” The EIC was formed in 2016 as a recommendation of the Equity and Inclusion Working Group, whose “Recommendations for Advancing Equity and Inclusion in the American Institute for Conservation” provide an essential road map for our future progress. EIC has created valuable programming and projects, often in collaboration with other networks, committees, and members. These include an Accessibility Survey with member Sally G. Kim, Affinity Groups including the Rainbow Caucus and BIPOC Caucus, and resources collected in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility section of the AIC Wiki.
FAIC offers several funding opportunities to support professional development and early career professionals, including the Latin American and Caribbean Scholarships (LACS), Take a Chance Grants, Holly Maxson Conservation Grants, and the George Stout Scholarship. Learn about FAIC's funding opportunities, which range from publication grants to outreach and conservation projects, and how FAIC supports the growth of conservation and preservation professionals at all stages of their careers. AIC and FAIC boards recognize the need for additional funding opportunities that target DEIA initiatives and support professionals at all career stages to create and sustain more diverse membership and an inclusive field. This is a priority that both boards will consider in their strategic planning.
Equitable Review Practices
In order to ensure the equity of review processes for funding, publication, and abstract acceptance for conferences, AIC and FAIC staff and member leadership, including the EIC, have revised the criteria for applications and reviews to make these processes more inclusive and equitable. DEIA has been established as a criteria for review in abstract submission, several funding opportunities, and in publications submissions. Anonymized review of scholarships and grants has been introduced where possible to help reduce bias. To promote open access to information, each funding opportunity has specific criteria for review which are available to both applicants and reviewers. The AIC Annual Meeting has centered DEIA initiatives into the abstract review for its general and concurrent general sessions. By clearly outlining expectations, qualifications, and review processes, AIC and FAIC strive to make the process more transparent and encourage diverse applications and authors.
AIC and FAIC staff and volunteers work together to create and support programs that address topics in DEIA and to improve the accessibility of all of our content. This includes removing barriers to participation, such as providing free and low-cost programs, including those provided through Connecting to Collections Care, providing captioning for virtual events, and translating popular resources. The EIC and staff are working to create a hub to capture all of our translated resources to provide easier access to those materials.
AIC and FAIC provide programs that directly support practitioners in their professional development, including mentoring programs, particularly for early career professionals. AIC's programs of note include: the EIC and Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) “Social Justice and Conservation” webinar series and ECPN’s “Making the Ask: Developing Negotiation Tactics in the Field of Conservation,” which discusses salary negotiation. We are particularly grateful to members who initiated and led these important initiatives.
Both organizations partner with allied organizations to reach and support new audiences. This includes activities like conservation-focused workshops at the 2022 Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) Conferences, and partnering with APOYOnline to administer programs like the Latin American and Caribbean Scholars program. AIC and FAIC are always open to forming new partnerships and building on existing partnerships.
FAIC has a cooperative agreement with the National Endowment for the Humanities for a project titled Held in Trust. The project is examining the state of the conservation field and making recommendations for future directions. DEIA is one of nine key topics through which the field is being examined, and is a lens through which the other sections are formulating their recommendations. The final project report will assess current DEIA efforts and recommend specific short- and long-term initiatives to promote DEIA efforts.
Member Initiatives & Programming
AIC’s Specialty Groups, Networks, and Committees are led by engaged members of the organization who bring their expertise and time to AIC and FAIC. Volunteers in EIC, ECPN, JAIC abstract translators, and others have translated or supported translations of AIC and FAIC resources, including the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice. The Member Engagement Subcommittee is also focused on DEIA, including establishing Guidelines for Conduct and sustaining a diverse membership. Our Communications Committee’s Website Subcommittee is developing web accessibility guidelines. In the meantime, they have developed the following tips for our internal groups to follow when creating official documents.
The boards and staff also want to recognize that many AIC members, while not in official leadership positions, engage with DEIA topics through creation of resources, communications, mentorship, and advocacy. AIC and FAIC staff provide support to members who are interested in sharing their expertise and efforts.
AIC and FAIC have made improvements in providing access to programming, such as closed captioning in video events, but acknowledge that there is significant work that must be done. The AIC Annual Meeting presentation guidelines were created to encourage and help presenters create more accessible presentations. Utilizing the Accessibility Survey, AIC and FAIC Boards and staff will continue to address community needs to ensure our programming, website, resources, and publications are accessible.