DIA Continues Diversity, Equity and Access Work With Hire of Carla Tinsley-Smith

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) continues to build the foundation of its transformational Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) work.

Recent milestones include a staff-wide inclusion survey, facilitated workgroup discussions across all departments and demographic groups, a cultural competency assessment for leadership, and the recent hire of a Director, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access.

Following an extensive search process, Carla Tinsley-Smith will join the DIA as its new director, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access, who will lead the implementation and management of effective IDEA strategies throughout the museum, according to a press release. Tinsley-Smith most recently served as Manager of Inclusion and Diversity at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and serves on several regional boards and advisory councils, including the Wayne County Women’s Commission, Mack Alive Community Resource Center, Michigan Diversity Council Advisory Board, Greening of Detroit and The Junior League of Detroit.

“Advancing our IDEA work is a top institutional priority,” said Melissa Peña, Executive Director of Talent and Culture. “We are engaging all of our team members to define and articulate our philosophy and vision for IDEA and to develop a diversity and inclusion strategy as a roadmap to unify efforts across the museum.” Peña is responsible for developing and executing strategies in the areas of talent and culture, including HR operations, learning and development, leadership development, and Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access across the museum.

In 2020, the DIA engaged The Kaleidoscope Group (https://kgdiversity.com/), a Chicago-based diversity and inclusion consultancy to support the IDEA project, a key part of a museum-wide program that began in 2015 and includes increased diversification of the board of directors, acquisitions of art by Black artists, and paid internships to expand access to the museum industry. A staff-wide inclusion survey was conducted in late 2020, and the results served as the basis for more than 60 facilitated discussions designed to set actionable goals for each department and the museum as a whole. Museum leadership also took part in an Intercultural Development Inventory® (IDI) assessment in early 2021. This significant work is funded by a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, an independent agency of the U.S. federal government established in 1996.


“Cultural organizations have a duty and responsibility to create a welcoming, accessible, inclusive, and respectful environment for the communities they serve,” said Tinsley-Smith. “As a native Detroiter and art enthusiast, I am grateful to the DIA search committee for this opportunity. I look forward to journeying with staff, leadership, and the board of directors to support the IDEA strategy, its implementation, and assessment for long-term transformation.”


The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera’s world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA is the first art museum to establish a curatorial department and galleries dedicated to African American art. Its collection is known for its quality, range, and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.






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