DEI starts with leadership

DEI starts with leadership

By Veronica Holmes Purvis, MSM, CAE, executive director

Collaboration, inclusivity and teamwork are hallmarks of my leadership approach and that circles around the association’s people, processes and programs. That is a part of what drew me to the Journalism Education Association. 

JEA leadership’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is admirable and necessary. You cannot have a completely authentic, comprehensive, collaborative culture without addressing DEI needs. So, I am keenly aware of diversity leadership which comprises a variety of considerations including internal company culture and policies as well as external effort and communications. 

I am a DEI proponent and serve on a DEI committee within one of my own professional associations the American Marketing Association which is very focused on an inclusive community, messaging and imaging.  

DEI work involves everyone but starts with leadership, including on the staff side and volunteer side; partnering to model and uphold the DEI endeavors, and ensuring that everything is viewed through a DEI lens. The staff and membership also have to be empowered and educated to champion DEI as well. 

Once you develop the “why” behind this – such as a DEI statement of commitment – you need to create the activation plan, which means looking at policies on the programmatic side but also operationally. This includes how you are actually recruiting employees, how you are recruiting members, how you are programming meetings and activities, running elections, etc., and ensuring that the processes and language -are inclusive.  

The fact that I am the first Black and woman of color executive director at JEA is not lost on me. I appreciate the honor and hope that seeing me in this role encourages others on their various paths as I have heard from other professionals. But that should not be a reason to assume that I know everything about DEI or that I do not have my own growth opportunities. 

Inclusivity begins internally with understanding yourself, your own blind spots and biases. Do you know your own? Because we all have them, including people of color. 

For example, I have initiated and participated in many trainings over the years including a few which uncover types of biases you may not have considered such as ageism and sizeism.    

My vision is that our DEI work will be so integrated into our operations and strategy that we will eventually not require a separate place to highlight it – although that is always helpful. 

I am excited to collaborate, support and champion the DEI efforts and welcome the ongoing work to activate this area that will progress JEA’s mission such as continuing to cultivate a diversified board, inclusive programs, events and ideas in various ways including inclusive policies, processes, language, imagery and programming. I invite you to stay involved and participate in a number of ways, one of which is by encouraging applications to our Diversity Award.

This article is part of a series of resources JEA is recommending to advisers in an effort to provide antiracist teaching resources to educators. JEA is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in its membership and practices. See the official statement here.

Founded in 1924, JEA supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, promoting professionalism, encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

Password Reset
Please enter your email address and press [Return] or [Enter]. You will receive a new password via e-mail.

If you don't receive it within a few minutes, please call (785-532-5532) or email us (, and we'll be happy to assist you.