Dear ACA Community,
As recently noted by our board chair, Robin Pope, “Statements are easy to make and easy to forget. Actions are more important but can take more time and effort.”
I am pleased to share that ACA has taken the first steps in our journey to increase diversity and access. We know we cannot single handedly change the world overnight, but we sincerely believe that we can and should work toward a world where all people have full access to enjoyment of all water sports.
At our June Board of Directors meeting, discussions regarding diversity were a significant part of the agenda. There was a strong consensus among the board members that diversity and inclusion are important issues not only within paddling, but within all water sports. We are fortunate that one of our Board members, Heather Davis Miller, who works for the National Wildlife Federation, is deeply involved in developing diversity training and programming as part of her job, and has offered to lead ACA’s efforts. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge, and we are grateful for her willingness to share her skills with ACA.
On Friday, June 26, Heather and I convened a group of ACA board members, ACA staff, and several instructors who had proactively expressed interest in assisting with ACA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. The instructors included Dan Sandberg in Montana, Erin Jones-Avni in Mexico, and Gerry James in Kentucky. During this meeting we discussed many ideas and reached a consensus on a few points:
ACA’s leadership should be more diverse
DEI should be an integral part of ACA’s strategic plan (currently a work in progress)
Unequal access to paddling venues is a big obstacle to increasing diversity
So, our journey has begun. It will not be perfect. We will make mistakes and use the wrong words and move too slowly for some. However, our intentions are earnest and our resolve is strong. We promise to update you throughout this journey.
In the meantime, I would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions.