She sees plenty of opportunities to engage Washington D.C. residents who don’t typically visit local arts and culture institutions. “It’s not just the moral thing to do or our social responsibility,” Clay reflected, “but it’s also about the bottom line. How can we remain relevant if we don’t partner with large segments of our communities?” The ethical and fiscal aspects of these issues permeate every function of the institution. Clay admits that “we’re at the beginning,” trying to get everyone on the same page, to explain how her work might intersect with their own.
Her priority was establishing an institution-wide strategy, applying a shared set of goals across departments under the rubric of DEAI—Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion. She has introduced the DEAI rubric to each branch of the museum. Creating meaningful change demands “everybody at the table on the same team, asking the same question,” she said. “And then having the courage to do something about it.”