Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Interlochen

We embrace four key pillars in leading diversity, equity, and inclusion work at Interlochen. These pillars are Education, Transparency, Vulnerability, and Accountability. They serve as a foundation for necessary conversations and help us move toward Transformation.

We are committed to using the arts to promote world friendship, and it is an integral part of our culture to learn, grow and continue on our journey toward becoming citizen artists and creating positive change.

Native American Heritage Month


We seek to expand our understanding and work to be culturally and socially competent. As an institution, we work to stay informed on industry standards and seek to be a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion education locally and abroad. As a community, we educate through workshops, training, curriculum, guest artists and necessary conversations. As individuals, we recognize the importance of having agency over our own education.

Kenyatta Hinkle (center) chats with Instructor of Visual Arts Megan Hildebrandt (right) while the students work.


Through transparency, we release the desire to hide behind our mistakes. We acknowledge that healing begins with honesty, and that speaking the truth in love leads toward the wholeness we seek for ourselves and those around us. By showing up as our authentic selves, we free others to do the same.

A girl with glasses talks to a boy in a red plaid shirt about a large white posterboard, covered with pictures and with the title "Venezuela."


As individuals, as a community, and as an institution, we lean into our discomfort and push through it to engage in meaningful and sometimes challenging conversations in order to grow stronger as a community. We understand the importance of dialogue, reflection, and action to activate campus-wide positive change.

Dr. Loretta Ross speaks at Interlochen Center for the Arts


Accountability is not only being accountable for your own words or actions, but being accountable for the whole community. Together, we are working to create a “call in” culture where disagreements and discomfort are met not with shaming, but with empathy and grace. Our goal is to disrupt harm, ensuring those who are most at risk do not have to advocate for themselves. If all of us are doing this work, we will move closer to a truly inclusive community.

Education, Transparency, Vulnerability, and Accountability lead to Transformation

DEI graphicAs our community grows through mutual education, we become more aware of our own implicit and explicit biases and become transparent about how those impact our lives. This moves us into a vulnerable state but, as we lean into the discomfort, it becomes increasingly easier for us to be accountable for our own actions as well as those of our community and the world. We then must engage in necessary conversations, reflect, and take actionable steps to create positive change that moves us toward transformation. We know this will take time. It is not a destination but rather a journey—One that we are committed to beginning over and over again.


Review Interlochen's latest diversity, equity, and inclusion update which showcases our philosophy and mandate. It also includes a comprehensive list of initiatives and programs.

View Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update

Interlochen Center for the Arts acknowledges that it occupies the ancestral and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabe Three Fires Confederacy, and specifically the Ojibwe/Ojibwa (Chippewa) Odawa (Ottawa), and Bodéwadmi/Bodowadomi (Potawatomi/Pottawatomi) peoples. We pay our respects and give thanks to the past, present, and future traditional stewards of this land.

Land Acknowledgement

It is not enough to acknowledge the land. Interlochen is committed to taking actionable steps and building relationships with our local and global indigenous communities. We encourage you to take action today. Learn more: native-land.ca | nativegov.org


We've implemented an education and training schedule for students, faculty, and staff, alongside outreach initiatives within our local community. We’ve also created a resource guide dedicated to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

Esther Triggs with Daniel Bernard at Interlochen Arts Academy
Academy Student Education
  • Calling In Student Training
  • 1:1 Education
  • Mediation
NPR's Eric Deggans presents to Interlochen Arts Academy students
Faculty & Staff Education
  • New Hire Implicit Bias Training
  • Education Division Training
  • Student Life / Residence Life Training
  • International Manager Training
  • Building an Inclusive Team
Northwest Michigan Arts & Culture Network
Community Education
  • Central United Methodist 
  • Traverse Connect Young Leaders
  • The Children's House
  • Father Fred Foundation
  • TADL
  • Michigan Chamber of Commerce
  • Northern Michigan Arts and Culture
  • Tart Trail

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team

At Interlochen Center for the Arts, our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is a collaborative effort, with our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team at the forefront of championing a culture where every voice is not only heard but deeply valued. Our dedication to fostering an inclusive environment is a joint effort, and we actively collaborate on innovative initiatives and ongoing education to enrich our creative community.

Esther Triggs

Esther Triggs

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Tifini McClyde

Tifini McClyde-Blythe

Associate Vice President
Human Resources

Kalyn Rabuse

Kalyn Rabuse

International Student Services Manager

Transparency in Numbers

Transparency in diversity, equity, and inclusion data is vital. Numbers not only hold organizations accountable but also drive informed strategies for positive change.


student domestic diversity for Arts Camp


student domestic diversity for Arts Academy


faculty diversity for Arts Academy

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion News & Stories

Bill Banfield headshot
“Edmonia” composer Dr. Bill Banfield previews the opera’s premiere on ‘Arts Engines’

Dr. Bill Banfield and host Aaron Dworkin (IAA 86-88) discussed the process of creating an opera, the joy of collaboration, and more on one of the nation’s most widely viewed arts programs.

A young girl dressed in white holds up a nutcracker.
A leap into the unknown: How Dance major Jayla found friendship and focus at Interlochen

When Jayla started at Interlochen, she wasn’t sure where she fit in within the dance world. Now, as a senior, she’s found her unique strengths and a place of her own within a vibrant interdisciplinary community.

MK Keso shares a presentation on Zambia at the Fall 2023 Interlochen Arts Academy Culture Fair.
Written in the stars: MK’s journey

Contemporary music student MK Keso shares how she chose Interlochen Arts Academy—and what prospective international students should consider before studying abroad.