Philadelphia Museum of Art hires its first DEI officer

During the past year, since the pandemic shutdown, issues of access and equity drove staff members to form a union. A perceived racial bias and the privileging of class and higher education in the museum’s programming had mobilized a successful unionization effort, with a contract still in negotiation.

“We’re all excited that this position was filled and look forward to working with Mr. Atkins,” said Art Museum employee Adam Rizzo, speaking on behalf of the union.

Originally from St. Louis, Atkins has advanced degrees in both theater and law, and has spent much of his career in colleges and universities, as both an instructor and administrator.

In addition to winning a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for teaching world religions and culture, Atkins was the director of institutional equity at Community College of Rhode Island and the equal opportunity and Title IX coordinator at the University of South Carolina Upstate, and well as that university’s chief diversity officer.

He is also an accomplished cook, having been certified a culinarian by Le Cordon Bleu North America. This will be Atkins’ first job in Philadelphia.

“The PMA is inextricably linked with the identity of Philadelphia, and as the city evolves, so too must the museum,” said Atkins. “There is a genuine desire to reimagine the PMA and its impact, identity, and influence as an institution committed to equity and inclusive excellence for all Philadelphians.”

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