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Damita Snow

Director of Accessibility, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy, Publications and Standards, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)


Please tell us a bit about yourself (e.g. hometown, current locale, course of study).

I will always be a proud New Yorker, but now work in the greater Washington, DC, area. I earned my undergraduate degree in fine arts/advertising. A few years ago, I became a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and, most recently, an ENVISION Sustainability Professional (ENV-SP). While studying for the sustainability exam, I expanded my knowledge of sustainable, resilient, and equitable infrastructure.

Describe some of your current responsibilities and what type of organization you belong to.

As Director of Accessibility, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy, Publications and Standards at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), my role encompasses the acquisition and presentation of demographic data, establishing benchmarks, and formulating diversity objectives for the editorial boards and other areas in alignment with our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. A significant aspect of my role is to ensure that our publications and platforms are accessible to all interested parties. Our digital offerings include the ASCE Library, our Standards site, Amplify platform, and the ASCE Conference Videos Collection.

What was your first scholarly publishing role? How did you get that job? What path led to your current position?

While earning my undergraduate degree, I accepted my first job in the world of publishing at a community newspaper. With aspirations of finding a career with a prominent advertising agency, I gained hands-on experience designing ads and marketing campaigns. Those aspirations ultimately did not mesh with my expectations, so I pivoted to a design studio position. There, I contributed to a wide variety of projects, including magazine layouts, book cover designs, and marketing promotions. Soon after, I was drawn into scholarly publishing when an association hired me as a graphic designer. At the time, I was not focused on the scholarly communications. I was primarily the opportunity to continue working in design.

If there was a pivotal moment or key person in your career development, please describe briefly.

A pivotal moment for me came during an ASCE all staff meeting in 2014. ASCE’s executive director, Tom Smith, spoke about DEI and how important it was to the civil engineering profession. Previously, I had been doing volunteer work in that space and thought it would be an idea worth investigating to create a community of like-minded individuals with a focus on inclusivity and diversity. In that meeting, the idea for the Staff Diversity & Inclusion Council at ASCE was born. It came into existence via grassroots support and was welcomed and supported by ASCE leadership. The Staff Diversity & Inclusion Council is still thriving and continues to have an impact within ASCE.

Several people have been influential in the development of my SSP career. However, in 2016, Angela Cochran, who was the managing director and publisher at ASCE at the time, encouraged me to join an SSP phone call about diversity and inclusion. That discussion allowed me to confidently express my thoughts, experiences, and perspectives and form relationships with industry professionals who shared my commitment to welcoming new voices. Over time, that phone call became a task force, which became the DEIA Committee. I co-chaired the SSP DEIA Committee, worked with a subcommittee to create C4DISC programming, and co-led the creation of the Antiracism Toolkit for Organizations. I also worked on the Antiracism Toolkit for Allies, the Antiracism Toolkit for Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color, the Guidelines for Inclusive Language and Images in Scholarly Communications, the 2023 Workforce Equity Survey, and the soon-to-be-released Focused Toolkit for Journal Editors and Publishers. In addition, I am a member of the DEIA Community of Practice. SSP noticed my volunteer work, and I was fortunate to be awarded the SSP Appreciation Award in 2021.

That one phone call a few years ago led to the onset of my SSP involvement. With the unwavering support of Dana Compton, managing director and publisher at ASCE, I can continue to infuse my career with purpose and commitment.

What tools, websites, and organizations do you find most valuable for your career development?

Like others, I have many resources that I use in my professional life. I actively use the freely available resources on C4DISC and read the posts on the Scholarly Kitchen. I am a member of the Women in AI Global Ethics Team and find it very rewarding to align with women to discuss and promote ethical AI policies. My interest lies in the intersection of DEIA and AI and the harms AI can bring and has brought to minoritized communities. There are ways to combat that, but if I start writing about it, this will become a much longer paragraph.

Along with being a member of the SSP Board, I serve on the board of Black Association Executives. It’s a space for association staff, providers, newcomers, and others to network, mentor, elevate, and support each other’s work across industries.

I find many websites helpful, but I’ll note just a few: International Association of Accessibility Professions, Deque, Conscious Style Guide, Editors of Color, and Better Allies.

What do you wish you knew more about?

Linguistics. It is a fascinating field that deals with the study of languages. Unfortunately, many languages have disappeared over time, and it’s important to take steps to preserve them. I do wish I knew how to speak a language other than English, as I believe that being multilingual is a gift that opens up new opportunities for forging relationships and broadening perspectives.

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications?

Tremendous opportunities are available to improve the space you find yourself in by actively inviting diverse perspectives and representation into that space and welcoming others’ contributions. In scholarly publishing, we have made modest gains, but there is so much more to do. Targeted outreach to and engagement with individuals from BIPOC communities to attract that talent is essential if we are truly committed. The SSP Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Committee plays a pivotal role in this work, but this commitment should be shared by the entire publishing community. Be emboldened to hold your leaders accountable to that commitment and connect with like-minded professionals in communities such as SSP.