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Kansas City Art Institute creates position to focus on diversity, inclusion

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Posted at 9:20 AM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 10:20:35-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Over the summer, Americans put a spotlight on racial injustices. Companies pledged to make changes to be more inclusive and diverse. Now, the Kansas City Art Institute is taking its own steps to meet those goals.

This summer, the art-focused institute of higher education located in Kansas City, Missouri, created a brand-new position and hired Shawntae Jones to be its director of diverse talent and inclusion.

Her job duties are to ensure KCAI is equitable and inclusive in its recruiting, hiring and enrollment procedures. She’ll also implement strategies promoting and highlighting diversity at the institute.

Jones said having a diverse campus community better shapes the experiences of students.

“I think that being able to interact with people, whether it be faculty or staff, of diverse backgrounds, who have different life experiences from themselves, who have different values and opinions, is really what’s going to help our students in growing and developing,”Jones said.

She grew up in Kansas City and graduated from Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. She loves being able to give back in her hometown.

“Being able to have a positive impact on the community and on the youth and the students right here in the community I grew up in is awesome,” she said. “I have a passion working with kids and I’m really going to enjoy the work I’ll be doing at KCAI.”

Jones started the job Aug. 31. But hiring her is not the first move KCAI has made to promote diversity. It also created a committee of students and staff members working toward the same goals. This week, it opened a new art exhibit on campus highlighting Black artists.

“KCAI is working toward building an environment where equity, inclusion and diversity become a part of everyday campus life,” Nerman Family President Tony Jones said in a statement.

Jones said she’ll measure her own success over time. She’s focused on making a positive change each day on the job.