Growing and Diversifying ADCES Membership: A Longstanding Domain in Strategic Priorities
Oct 31, 2023, 21:00 PM
October 30, 2023
By Jan Kavookjian, PhD, MBA, FAPhA FADCES
I’m excited to share my perspective about a key portion of the new ADCES 2024-2028 Strategic Plan. Each of the current elected presidential officers was invited to write a blog post on one of the three overarching domains and I am pleased to write about the ‘Grow and Diversify Membership’ domain.
It is a personal satisfaction for me to reflect on this particular domain as I approach the end of my term as ADCES’ Immediate Past President. I started my leadership journey as a Board member while the Board was finalizing the 2019-2023 strategic plan and then developed the new Vision for the Specialty with ADCES rebranding; I am grateful to have had the experience of being immersed in a full cycle. Each of these initiatives, past and present, had a primary domain or pillar focused on increasing diversity and when I was slated for election to President-elect, one of my two platform focus areas was to explore ways to increase diversity in the specialty, in ADCES membership, and in ADCES leadership.
Surely every association has a general focus on growing membership. After all, this is a foundational responsibility for viability of an organization and also for continuity and expansion of association initiatives. Growing a diverse membership is a vital strategic priority for ADCES and its members. We know from a series of national practice surveys (NPS) ADCES has conducted every few years, that a majority of ADCES members have been Caucasian women in the over-40 age range. (Kavookjian, Bzowyckyj, DiNardo,Kocurek, Kolb, Noe, Ryan, Saunders, See, Uelman, 2022) This makes us most relatable within just one segment of the population, often leaving out racial/ethnic populations that are at greatest risk. There can be consequences. Case in point, I did research for a DSMES program in the deep South that was concerned about DSME class dropout rates. We implemented a mailed, anonymous survey of those who had not completed, including an open response section. Among an array of reasons, a few respondents said they had dropped out because, to quote one response, “The [DCESs] were all white, young, and skinny and that’s the opposite of me.” (Hunt, Kavookjian & Ekong, 2017)
This has stuck with me since then and I wondered what more we could do to address this very human factor that may be preventing persons from seeking access to diabetes care and education. When I first joined the Board, I was pleased to see that ADCES had already prioritized diversity and cultural competence and had engaged at that time, a cultural competence consulting firm to inform the Board about strategies ADCES could engage to be more inclusive and for diabetes care and education to be more accessible to all. This included a focus on other areas of diversity we should be considering in addition to racial/ethnic identity; some of these include age (we need more younger members), gender (we need more males and other gender identities) and practitioner types (we need more members from the Diabetes Community Care Coordinators (DCCC) realm), but also expand beyond to include sexual orientation, persons with disabilities, religion/faith beliefs, and others.
In this transformative era in ADCES evolution, we have seen a steady stream of evidence that ADCES is trying to walk the walk and not just talk the talk about cultural competence and humility across types of diversity in our US population and beyond. In this past year, our newly formed Inclusion Council identified areas for development in cultural humility among various diverse population segments that ADCES could focus on; in addition, the association has hired an expert consulting firm to help the Inclusion Council develop specific inclusion strategies, including how to recruit more diverse individuals to ADCES membership.
I also believe that a key place to start in recruiting members from diverse population segments, is to think about those who are in roles as the voice and face of the association - our elected leadership. If we have diverse leaders, then others like them will relate and may feel there is also a place for them in the specialty and with ADCES. As chair of 2023 Nominating Committee, I made it a priority to invite persons from diverse population segments who were already actively involved in ADCES to apply for leadership. I’m satisfied by results of the slate process that brought an excellent and diverse set of candidates, and then you, the members, voted to include as our incoming Officers and Board members a significant balance of highly qualified and diverse individuals. I believe these steps may encourage others and bring the growth in membership that ADCEs will always be striving for.
And in closing, I’d like to re-visit my final President’s letter in the November 2022 ADCES in Practice journal with my call to action for each ADCES member. While the 2021 NPS results showed a slight increase in diversity among responding members, there is so much more that we can each do. I again encourage each of you to reach out to a person who is different from you, and mentor or at least encourage them to join ADCES and consider a career trajectory that may include becoming a CDCES. Each of the past three Strategic Plans had diversity and/or inclusion as a key strategic priority area long before it was the politically correct area of focus it has recently become. This must be an ongoing journey and I am so proud to see ADCES still walking the walk while in striving towards essential progress in this realm!
Kavookjian J, Bzowyckyj A, DiNardo M, Kocurek B, Kolb LE, Noe D, Ryan D, Saunders MM, See M, Uelmen S. Current and emerging trends in diabetes care and education: A national practice and workforce survey. The Science of Diabetes Self-Management and Care 2022; 48(5):307-323. doi.org/10.1177/26350106221120787
Hunt C, Kavookjian J, Ekong G. Participant explanations for non-completion of a diabetes self-management education program. Annals of Nursing Research & Practice 2017; 2(1): 1012. ISSN: 2572-9403.)
Kavookjian J, Bzowyckyj A, DiNardo M, Kocurek B, Kolb L, Noe D, Ryan D, Saunders M, See M, Uelman S. Current and Emerging Trends in Diabetes Care and Education: 2021 National Practice and Workforce Survey. The Science of Diabetes Self-Management and Care 2022; 48(5). doi/full/10.1177/26350106221120787