Just like every year, this summer's 10-week internship blew by fast with the 2021 cohort finishing their work on Friday, August 6th with a closing party. It was a pleasure to be hosted by the Denver Botanic Gardens to celebrate an amazing cohort and their supervisors. The seven interns that made up this summer's cohort are strong leaders with a passion for DEI work and advocacy. From their work in their advocacy workshops to the proposals they painstakingly prepared for their host sites—filled with actionable items intended to strengthen their DEI commitment—they have demonstrated the skills and the dedication to help push arts and culture in Colorado toward a more diverse and equitable space. We look forward to seeing where they apply their skills and we hope the community is too!
Retrospective: Signing Off and Looking Forward
After three years of running the Diversity in the Arts Internship program, Kirsten Lang is passing the baton to a new program administrator. She will be moving on to join the newly formed Health Equity Branch in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to continue her DEI advocacy.
When I joined the DITA team in October of 2018, the program had a concept, funding, and an Advisory Board. That was about it. My first few weeks as Program Administrator involved pulling together a Mission Statement, creating a calendar for the upcoming year, and drafting the application process that we would use to select internship locations. As we liked to say during our board meetings, we were laying down the tracks as the train rolled down them: building the program and running it concurrently. It was, unsurprisingly, a bumpy ride at points, but an incredibly rewarding one. The highlight of running the program was spending time with the interns, whether I was swinging by one of their host sites, or sitting in on our two summer workshops, or handing out gifts at our end of program celebration. After spending months in the trenches of process creation, grant paperwork, and emails, speaking with the interns and hearing their stories reaffirmed that the DITA program had the potential to be transformative, not just for our interns and our host sites, but for the arts & culture nonprofit community in Colorado. If DITA was put on the right track and handled by those who truly cared about our vision of seeing the leadership of our industry become representative of the communities we serve, it had the potential to keep bright young leaders in Colorado and to foster a welcoming environment for them to step up and push our organizations progressively forward in their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. While I had never planned to run the program indefinitely, and had been upfront about that in my initial interview for the position, I wanted to make sure the program could run for years to come and I was committed to stay on as the Program Administrator until the program was stable enough to create a smooth transition in leadership. Although it is bittersweet to be saying goodbye, I have every confidence that DITA is in safe hands and will continue to grow and remain a transformative experience for its participants. The Advisory Board is incredibly dedicated to the mission of the program, the DITA alumni are excited to continue participating and sharing their experiences with the incoming cohorts, and the community of past host sites have provided consistent and valuable feedback for the program's stability. I am excited to watch DITA's continued growth under fresh leadership and am truly honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to play a role in its formation.