Women of Color Nominated to National Endowment Posts

L to R: Maria Rosario Jackson, Ph.D., ASU and Shelly Lowe, NEH

October 10, 2021—Just in case you missed the reports, I am passing along some historic news to the readers of Arts & Culture Connections: Two women of color have been nominated to lead America’s 35 year-old cultural agencies –the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

President Joseph Biden this past week nominated Maria Rosario Jackson, Ph.D., to become chair of the NEA and Shelly Lowe as chair of the NEH.

If their nominations are approved by the U.S. Senate, Ms. Lowe, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, will be the first Native American nominated to lead the federal humanities agency, and Dr. Jackson will become the first African-American and Mexican-American to head the arts endowment.

According to the White House news release, “Both (women) are esteemed leaders in their respective fields and dedicated public servants committed to advancing the development of and access to the arts and humanities across America.” President Biden also has proposed $135-million increases for both budgets as part of his American Rescue Plan, the largest budget boost in history.

Dr. Jackson is a professor at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. She previously worked at Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank, where Dr. Jackson founded the Culture, Creativity and Communities Program. You can learn more about her background with the arts at this link.

Ms. Lowe is the executive director of Harvard University’s Native American Program. Previously, she was the director of the Native American Cultural Center at Yale University, where she also served as an assistant dean. You can learn more about Ms. Lowe at this link.

Of the NEA, the President said in June: “In this year of profound loss and pain, repair and renewal, the artist’s vision is as important as ever in the search for greater meaning in our lives. We discovered and rediscovered the power of art in every form.”

This is wonderful news; a recognition of the importance of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the highest echelons of our nation’s cultural institutions! I urge you to contact your U.S. Senator and encourage them to approve both nominations.

As always, I would like to know what you think. I invite you to share your comments below.

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