Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
at the Music Institute of Chicago

Last updated: 2.14.2022


The Music Institute of Chicago has taken a multi-faceted approach to improving diversity and inclusion within our organization. The first step was creating a Working Group for Diversity and Inclusion. Led by Trustees Barbara Sereda and Carlos Cardenas, the group is comprised of MIC faculty, staff, parents, students, and other interested community members.  Through a process of inclusive conversation, research, and analysis, the Working Group develops recommendations for MIC Board and staff which, when executed, will help MIC fulfill its mission and better serve its diverse community. Acting on the recommendations of the Working Group, the Music Institute of Chicago has made progress in many areas.



Training started at the top of the organization. President and CEO Mark George and Board Chair Scott Verschoor joined the inaugural class of Leading with Equity, a course offered by the Allstate Foundation for Nonprofit Leadership Center and the Kellogg School Center for Nonprofit Management at Northwestern University. The program challenged participants to analyze their own beliefs on race to uncover unconscious biases; study how systemic inequities throughout communities are formed; learn frameworks around diversity, equity, and inclusion; and understand their responsibility as “change agents” within their organizations.


The senior management team participated in seminars offered by Enrich Chicago, an arts-led organization that seeks to change racist systems in the arts.  The remainder of MIC’s staff and faculty were provided the opportunity to participate in a series of three professional development sessions. In November 2021, Wendy Ake and Elsadig Elsheihk, fellows at the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California at Berkeley presented an Introduction to Targeted Universalism. The second session in January 2022, explored aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion with Dr. G. Kwesi Cornell Logan. Then in February 2022, Mina Girgis, also of the Othering & Belonging Institute, presented a session on how to embrace different kinds of music from around the world. Outside of the formal professional development session staff is taking the initiative to expand their knowledge about issues surrounding diversity and inclusion, thus demonstrating their personal commitment to being agents of change.



Stemming from the work done at the Leading with Equity program, MIC Trustees resolved to transform the composition of the Board and adopted a new and more inclusive approach to Trustee recruitment, and a new conception of the different kinds of value people can bring to governance.  A board that is more reflective of the constituents we serve and diverse in race, age, gender identity, and perspective will more easily enable issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion to be incorporated into strategic initiatives of the organization. Bylaws have been revised and every aspect of the recruitment and onboarding process is being reworked through a D & I lens.



The Music Institute has reviewed its process of searching for, interviewing, and hiring candidates for open positions. The goal is to eliminate unconscious bias in the hiring process so that the administrative staff represents the diversity of our community. Position descriptions are written in a way that sets reasonable requirements for qualifications and avoids language that would automatically disqualify people with alternate credentials or relevant lived experiences. There is an effort to post job openings on sites that include specialized professional communities, not just the large generic employment listing sites. Also, as the institution’s network expands, word-of-mouth advertising has become more effective. As a result, the composition of the administrative staff has already begun to broaden.



The 2021-22 concert season at Nichols Concert Hall reflects a commitment to expand both the repertoire and the performers who appear on stage. The opening concert featured a commissioned work by Jazz at Lincoln Center artist Victor Goines, and two-thirds of the on-stage performers that evening are BIPOC. The annual MLK Celebration Concert presented works by William Grant Still, the focus of the One Composer, One Community initiative. Spring programming includes guest artist Russell Malone, and three concerts of music by Latin American composers, performed by the Reverón Trio, KAIA Quartet, and trumpeter Pacho Flores.



One Composer, One Community (OCOC) is an initiative inspired by the Music Institute’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group that is beginning to take root throughout all curricular and performance activities. The idea is for MIC, its faculty, and students, to focus on the life and work of a single, often underrepresented BIPOC composer over the course of an academic year. Music of the selected composer is featured on MIC series concerts and other special events, including gatherings to discuss aspects of the composer’s life and music through autobiographical, biographical, or critical writing, as well as though active listening of the music itself.  LEARN MORE >>



It is a strategic priority for the Music Institute to focus on Evanston, home to the MIC headquarters and Nichols Concert Hall The institution is actively working to connect with professional and community partners, develop programmatic collaborations, and allocate increased scholarship and financial aid in Evanston. Initiatives currently in development include a tuition free Suzuki Strings program, which seeks to transform families through music learning, and an annual concert series at Nichols Concert Hall, known as Celebracion de la Musica Latinoamerica. The series focuses on the music of Latin American composers and has a robust education component, which will be available to K-12 schools and other organizations in the community. We are a proud partner in this endeavor with the Reverón Trio and Strings of Latin America (SOLA).  Finally, Nichols Concert Hall is becoming more widely available to grassroots organizations at no cost for meetings and events.


Please check this page for periodic updates. Questions and suggestions may be sent via email >>