American Association for Access, Equity, and Diversity Celebrates 50 Years

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Photo by Kendall Scott

As the American Association for Access, Equity, and Diversity (AAAED) commemorates its 50th anniversary, it stands as the premier national organization for professionals at the forefront of affirmative action, equal opportunity, and diversity programs.

Established in 1974 as the American Association for Affirmative Action, the organization rebranded as the AAAED in 2014 to encompass a broader spectrum of issues and acknowledge the evolving professional roles and titles of its members.

Its commencement was during the enactment of some of the most influential civil rights laws of the 1960s and 1970s and the creation of federal compliance agencies.

Today, the national office operates in Washington, D.C., with directors and members located across the country. Half of AAAED members are employed by higher education institutions including Ivy League schools, public universities, liberal arts colleges, historically Black colleges and universities, and technical and community colleges. The remainder work for private companies, consulting and law firms, city and county governments, and agencies at the federal, state, and local level.

AAAED partners with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the Office of Disability Employment Policy, and other federal, state, and local agencies involved with compliance regulations and oversight.

The association provides a variety of resources to members, including a career center and updates on legislation and court actions. Leaders communicate with the news media, the courts, and state and local governments to educate members and the public about their work and perspectives on civil rights compliance and policy issues.

Since its inception, leaders have expanded its array of services, one of which is the AAAED Professional Development and Training Institute, which enhances legal knowledge and technical and administrative skills in equal employment opportunity, affirmative action policy, and more recently, diversity and Title IX law.

In addition, members established The Fund for Leadership, Equity, Access and Diversity (LEAD Fund), a nonprofit organization operating as a “Think and Do Tank” for promoting inclusive organizations and institutions.

Lastly, as a key component to educating practitioners, AAAED hosts national conferences, honoring individuals and organizations for their contributions to access and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion).

To celebrate 50 years of service, an online webinar speaker series will take place throughout 2024. An in-person celebration will take place June 13-14 in Washington, D.C.

Learn more about the celebration at