Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity is all of us; it’s the mosaic of each person’s unique perspectives, life experiences, and contributions. Inclusion is a practice of welcoming that uniqueness and valuing its worth.
AHEAD embraces diversity and inclusion as organizational commitments and professional imperatives. That commitment is reflected in our mission statement, core values, strategic plan, and initiatives. This page serves as an information and resource hub. Please read on to learn more about AHEAD’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, available resources, and ways that you can get involved.
AHEAD values a multiplicity of perspectives and worldviews, and believes that increased diversity enhances our practice. AHEAD defines diversity holistically and welcomes voices from all backgrounds, histories, and lived experiences. AHEAD is committed to equity, inclusion, and access, and works intentionally to represent diversity across the organization and supports professional development and practice that is congruent with these values.
AHEAD strives to create inclusive and accessible experiences in all its governance, events, and activities. Some ways this is achieved include:
- Designing inclusive events and, as requested, ensuring effective individual accommodations, such as Sign Language interpreters, transcribers, accessible formats of print materials, and alternative options to meet individual dietary needs
- Designing fully accessible web-based materials, including websites, apps, emails, and registration portals
- Inviting and working to include diverse perspectives on all leadership groups and committees
- Providing gender-inclusive restrooms and offering the opportunity for participants to select and include preferred pronouns on name badges at the annual conference in July
- Supporting both formal meetings and informal social gatherings for regional, professional, and identity-based groups.
- AHEAD’s Commitment to Diversity (July 2016 Statement to Membership) – Word doc or PDF download
- Safe Space Word Cloud
- Webinar: “African American Students' Mental and Emotional Health Needs: Considerations for All Disability Services Professionals”
- Black, Disabled, and Proud: College Students with Disabilities (featuring posters, tip sheets, and resources)
- AHEAD Reaffirms Commitment to Acting in Solidarity with Trans* Communities (March 2017 Statement to Membership) Word doc or PDF download
Want to help create a more diverse and inclusive organization and profession? Read about opportunities below and contact the corresponding Chair for more information.
I. Standing Committee on Diversity
In accordance with AHEAD’s definition of diversity, the Standing Committee on Diversity (SCD) exists to:
1. develop awareness among members and the association in general about diversity in relation to all aspects of the association, its business, members and practices;
2. assess means through which the association is represented and inclusive of diversity; to foster inclusion of all members within the association equally and with equity;
3. ensure that association events and activities are inclusive and responsive to needs of diverse constituencies; to evaluate member resources for sensitivity; and to
4. provide members with resources to promote inclusive environments for all students in college and university communities but especially students with disabilities.
- Adam Crawford (Chair), The Ohio State University
- Liz Thomson (Vice Chair), University of Illinois at Chicago
II. Special Interest Groups (SIGS)
The Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Disability (REDD) SIG aims to increase the awareness of AHEAD members on issues of diversity pertaining to students from historically underrepresented groups. Contacts:
- Crystal Hill (Chair), University Of Central Arkansas
- Katy Washington (Co-Chair), University of Arkansas
- Chinwendu Okoronkwo (Secretary), University of Arkansas
The LGBTQA SIG will serve two primary groups of AHEAD members, 1) those who are LGBTQA-identified, and 2) those who would like more information on the LGBTQ community so as to better serve those students on our respective campuses.
The Diversity Initiative (2006-2009)
The Diversity Initiative was an AHEAD member workgroup that grew out of the work of the Race, Ethnicity, and Disability Diversity (REDD) Special Interest Group in 2006. The work of these members moved AHEAD forward in its work in the areas of diversity, representation, and inclusion. Highlights of the impact and progress directly related to the work of the Diversity Initiative include:
1. The Board of Directors
- participated in a dedicated, day-long cultural competency training and facilitated diversity planning;
- established a formal working group to focus on issues of diversity, representation, and inclusion, the “Diversity Initiative;”
- formally broadened its definition of diversity to include issues of race and ethnicity, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, gender, age, religion and other aspects of difference represented by AHEAD’s membership and the students it serves;
- offered an on-line course entitled: “Recognizing the Connections: Disability as an Aspect of Diversity (Critical Concepts in DS”) in February and October;
- Actively recruited diverse members to serve on the Board of Directors to increase the diversity of voices informing AHEAD’s work; and
- funded and sponsored an international exchange program for professionals from different countries to visit and work at each other’s campuses to increase exposure to international perspectives of disability and higher education.
- Targeted personalized membership outreach to all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges;
- realized equal market penetration in HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges as among all higher education institutions; and
- developed and distributed a member survey to create an accurate picture of the make-up of AHEAD members’ gender, age, racial/ethnic, and institutional diversity to guide future efforts to increase diversity;
3. The Diversity Initiative
- had significant impact on the selection of concurrent and keynote presentations during AHEAD annual conferences: sponsoring a strand of diversity-focused concurrent sessions and selecting keynote presenters to advance discussions of diversity within the Association;
- held an open forum during the 2010 annual conference to listen to input from members;
- created the AHEAD Diversity Recognition Award and made the first award in 2009;
- developed a tri-fold brochure focused on the importance of diversity to higher education/disability professionals and how to promote it in their work on campus;
- Held an open forum at the 2010 annual conference to invite member feedback and guidance in the area of diversity;
- established an AHEAD listserv on diversity, where members can engage in discussions around scenarios on disability and diversity;
- developed a Web page focused on diversity issues and the work of the Initiative;
- regularly contributed articles to AHEAD’s online newsletter, the ALERT;
- completed a preliminary review of literature related to the concept of cultural competency to promote diversity and recognize culture as "integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious and social groups;" and
- developed intentional strategies for recruiting diverse members, including collaboration with NASPA on its Undergraduate Fellow Program (NUFP).
In 2010, the Diversity Initiative’s work was further prioritized through the establishment of an ongoing Standing Committee on Diversity. We thank the original members of the Diversity Initiative for their leadership and commitment to changing the culture within AHEAD