NAACP Arlington honors Mason’s ARIE Initiative and community partnership


George Mason University’s commitment to anti-racism and inclusive excellence is being honored with the 2022 NAACP Arlington Branch President's Award.

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President Gregory Washington; Sharnnia Artis, vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and chief diversity officer; the Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence (ARIE) Task Force; and Toni Andrews, senior associate director, Office of Community and Local Government Relations, were selected to receive the honor on behalf of the university. The NAACP Arlington Branch will present the awards at its 2022 Freedom Fund Virtual Banquet on Wednesday, December 14. 

“We are celebrating our partnership with the faculty, students, and stakeholders that have significantly impacted student success and, most importantly, societal change,” said Julius “JD” Spain Jr., branch president, NAACP Arlington.

Mason is the seventh most diverse public university in the country—and the most diverse public university in Virginia—according to U.S. News & World Report. 

The NAACP President’s Award, granted at the discretion of the branch president, is a distinguished honor given to an individual or group/organization that is “actively challenging others to embrace diversity and ensure greater opportunity for all people.”

"We are grateful for this honor," said Artis. "This recognition is confirmation that the research, teaching, creative activities, and service our students, faculty, and staff are leading and engaged in are having a positive impact at Mason and in the community."

In October, Mason hosted the first ARIE Conference at Mason Square (formerly Arlington Campus), celebrating the impact of research and the shared goal of shaping a more equitable future. More than 400 faculty, staff, students and community members attended in-person or virtually.

“I’m so proud of the work we do at Mason to engage the community,” Andrews said. “We have a very special relationship with our community partners. Initiatives, like the ARIE Conference, allow us the opportunity to showcase Mason’s talented students and faculty and share our knowledge with the community.”