Reciprocal Mentoring Program and AIR Pipeline Partnership Program


Identifying, leveraging and supporting internal talent; creating a pipeline for diverse talent.


AIR’s Reciprocal Mentoring Program (RMP), launched in July 2019, supports and strengthens the engagement, development and retention of staff from underrepresented groups at AIR. In our 12-month program model, senior leaders and staff from underrepresented groups form mentoring partnerships to explore individual values, establish and discuss career goals and define career development strategies to enhance underrepresented groups’ leadership capacity and visibility within AIR.

Mentoring partners both share knowledge and hold each other accountable. Through consistent interaction and relationship-building, mentoring partners develop a mutual sense of empathy and understanding while creating networks for professional growth and development. AIR’s D&I Office, D&I Council and executive leadership codeveloped and implemented this program, which includes an evaluation process to determine program effectiveness and inform continuous quality improvement for subsequent cohorts.

In 2020, AIR launched a new partnership with three large universities intended to build a pipeline of diverse candidates to contribute to the field of behavioral and social science research and application. This Pipeline Partnership Program (P3) seeks to enhance the diversity and cultural competence of the field by engaging graduate students who reflect the racial, cultural and socioeconomic diversity of the communities we serve. AIR will build and sustain this initiative, designed for  traditionally underserved students in higher education, through our Quasi Endowment fund.

  • In 2019, the RMP’s inaugural cohort of mentoring partners held an orientation for 24 staff from underrepresented groups and 15 senior leaders. During check-ins, we gathered feedback that has strengthened the program. Results in July will guide future cohorts, which will focus on additional dimensions of diversity

  • The first P3 virtual kickoff event was in May 2020 with university faculty and students. It garnered tremendous enthusiasm from participating institutions and AIR staff. 

Karen B. Francis, Director, Diversity and Inclusion


At AIR, diversity, inclusion and equity are essential to our mission and pivotal to our strategic goals. We need teams as diverse as the communities where we work to provide the research, analysis and insights needed to make the world a better place. We recognize that no one person or group is responsible for building a diverse and inclusive environment. It is up to all of us. We seek active participation from everyone at AIR to help create an environment where all our staff can bring their full selves to work every day. Over the years, AIR’s D&I work has reached every member of our staff—through organization-wide training programs, employee resource groups, and more—and we pledge to continue making progress on our D&I journey, in service to our staff, clients, community partners, and AIR’s mission.

David Myers
President and CEO, American Institutes for Research
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