Update to NASP Members and Convention Attendees Regarding the Hyatt Incident
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March 10, 2023
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) is pleased to announce that we have finalized the details of our agreement with Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center related to the experience of NASP President Dr. Celeste Malone and her guests during NASP’s 2023 convention. The team at the hotel and Hyatt leadership have listened to our concerns and agreed to take appropriate actions for Dr. Malone and her guests, as well as to provide mechanisms for meaningful support to three organizations that help advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, Hyatt has confirmed its commitment to promoting a welcoming and affirming experience for all individuals at future NASP events in Hyatt spaces.
Dear NASP Members and Convention Attendees:
The past week has been painful for many in the NASP family, members of the Black school psychology community, and particularly for our President, Celeste Malone, and her friends and personal colleagues. The racist behavior by security staff at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center during our national convention was inexcusable. It took much longer than it should have, but the General Manager of the Hyatt Regency Denver and the Senior Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Hyatt corporate finally apologized publicly and agreed to restorative actions, both immediate and long-term. We will continue to hold Hyatt accountable for their commitments in a meaningful, substantive way.
We hope these actions will contribute to reducing the burden on those most directly affected and to increasing tangible support for BIPOC school psychology graduate students. We deeply appreciate the leadership shown by Celeste and NASP Executive Director Kathy Minke during this challenging time. We also want to acknowledge the outstanding work of NASP Director of Communications Kathy Cowan and NASP's communications and convention staff, as well as the overwhelming support of the school psychology community and larger community of organizations and associations who immediately and powerfully rallied around and stood in solidarity with Celeste.
Securing Hyatt's apology is not the end of our efforts. It is only one step forward on the work ahead.
As members of NASP's Board of Directors, every single one of us is committed to-and responsible for-how NASP lives our strategic goal to advance social justice, equity, and inclusion. While NASP did not cause the Hyatt incident, it happened at our event and to our people. It is our job to make sure it doesn't happen again. It is our job to examine all barriers to BIPOC individuals becoming school psychologists and accessing opportunities, as well as avenues for their professional growth and leadership as school psychologists.
We believe in our strategic goal and had already set in motion a number of important initiatives as part of our new strategic plan. It is clear, though, that we can and must do more. At an emergency meeting Monday night, the board agreed to provide an additional donation to the Minority Scholarship Program, as well as a donation to Howard University's School of Education School Psychology program. Several staff and leaders met with representatives of the Black School Psychologists Network to discuss ways NASP can support their efforts.
These also are just the first steps. We will be meeting again soon to determine additional concrete ways we can lower barriers and improve access to the full participation of BIPOC individuals, and those from other minoritized groups, in the profession and in NASP. We are also dedicated to actions that ensure that future convention sites are safe, accessible, and affirmative spaces for all our attendees. We are committed to transparency and will update you on our plans.
In the meantime, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Celeste for her strength, grace, and leadership during this incredibly difficult time. She is an inspiration, and the progress we have made towards our social justice goals is in many ways a direct result of her knowledge, patience, and generosity of spirit. However, this work will never be up to Celeste alone.It is our job as your Board of Directors to push NASP continually forward towards a truly equitable, diverse, and inclusive future.
We are making Celeste's remarks on her theme Radical Hope, Authentic Healing from the General Session in Denver publicly available. Her message is strong and clear. We encourage you to listen, reflect, and share with others.
If you have questions or suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact any one of us.
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Dear NASP Members and 2023 Convention Attendees:
This is an update regarding the Hyatt incident. Your voices, in concert with NASP’s extensive direct advocacy, have resulted in progress! NASP President Celeste Malone and Executive Director Kathleen Minke had a lengthy conversation with the General Manager of Hyatt Denver and the Senior Vice President for Global Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for Hyatt corporate yesterday afternoon. We discussed in detail the harm caused by the racist treatment of NASP President Celeste Malone and her friends and colleagues and the broader Black community. We also detailed the harm caused by the lengthy delay in providing an appropriate response based on our outlined actions.
We are pleased to announce that our discussion has resulted in this formal public apology by Hyatt, which also outlines restorative steps the Hyatt will take: compensating the individuals most directly affected and donating to the NASP Minority Scholarship Program, Howard University School of Education, and the Black School Psychology Network as first steps.
Equally important, Hyatt has offered to work with NASP going forward to help inform Hyatt’s EDI efforts, ensure the safety and well-being of all of our attendees at properties hosting future NASP events, and support BIPOC school psychology graduate students in a variety of ongoing ways.
This has been a painful and difficult situation. NASP’s goals have been to help secure reparative action, to support the Black school psychology community, and to highlight the work that still needs to be done. NASP is committed to this work. Our Board of Directors met last night to discuss our next steps as an association. More on this to come.
We look forward to the potential of a partnership with Hyatt to help diversify the profession and expand the opportunity for more BIPOC individuals to become leaders in the field. These actions will directly support advancing both our social justice and shortage goals.
Dear NASP Members and 2023 Convention Attendees:
We are closing out what has been a highly successful convention here in Denver. We had 5,660 attendees in person and nearly 2,100 virtually. The program has been exceptional and the strong sense of school psychology community was powerful.
Unfortunately, a totally unacceptable and harmful incident occurred Wednesday night in the Hyatt hotel that directly affected President Celeste Malone, her friends, colleagues, and family, and by extension the Black community. With Celeste’s permission and involvement, we put out two posts on social media yesterday expressing our outrage and solidarity with Celeste and all those affected by the incident. Because this incident has harmed the broader Black and school psychology communities and NASP, we want to share with you directly as well.
The facts: As most NASP Presidents do at their convention the night of their biggest day and the General Session and Keynote, Celeste hosted a party in her president’s suite for her Howard University colleagues and students and her close friends and family. To be clear, this type of gathering is exactly what a hotel presidential suite is designed to accommodate. At about 9:30 p.m., 30 minutes before quiet hours are enforced, two White hotel security staff members came to the suite and instructed everyone but Celeste to leave immediately, demanded ID, and insisted on staying in the suite to “ensure” all guests left. The gathering had no music and the number of guests was fewer than the hotel occupancy limit for the room. Hotel policy requires at least one, usually two, warnings before any action is taken. No warnings were given. Celeste and her guests DID NOTHING WRONG. The security staff’s inexcusable and harmful behavior would not have happened had the guests in the room not been Black and Brown individuals.
Over the last 36 hours, NASP Executive Director Kathleen Minke, Celeste, and NASP’s Directors of Meetings and Conventions and Communications met with the Hyatt Denver General Manager and the Senior VP for Global Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for Hyatt Corporate, Tyronne Stoudemire, to discuss Hyatt’s response and reparative actions. We have repeatedly asked for the following specifics:
- A public genuine apology to Celeste
- Refunding all room charges and fees to Celeste’s invited guests to the party
- Direct compensation to Celeste
- Substantive donations to the NASP Minority Scholarship Program, Howard University (to be determined by Celeste), and the Black School Psychology Network.
Additionally, in our conversation, Mr. Stoudemire agreed to meet with the NASP Board of Directors to discuss additional actions that Hyatt Corporate will take to ensure the safety and well-being of all of our attendees at any NASP event into the future. He also said Hyatt Denver staff will receive EDI and antiracism training.
Unfortunately, we have yet to receive anything from the Hyatt. This is unacceptable by any measure. If we what get does not meet our demands, we will continue to pursue a restorative resolution. We encourage our members, attendees and colleagues to keep spotlight on Hyatt and hold them accountable.
The level of trauma and outrage caused has been painful, palpable, and valid. While NASP is not directly responsible for this incident, it happened in our space and on our watch. We are deeply sorry. We are committed to examining all steps we can take to ensure that every NASP event attendee feels genuinely safe and welcomed in any facility with which we work in the future.
It is not lost on us the painful irony of this incident happening at a convention built around creating Radical Hope and Authentic Healing under the amazing visionary leadership of the second Black president in NASP’s history, at which we had our largest number of Black attendees ever, and during Black History Month. Amidst this, though, we have witnessed the power of Celeste’s circle of colleagues and friends, and the broader community who immediately wrapped themselves around her. We witnessed and are incredibly grateful for Celeste’s strength and grace in this situation she should not have had to endure. We are humbled by the life-long and generational trauma weighing on the Black school psychology and broader communities this event retriggered. We are inspired by their resilience and respect their anger.
We know that as an association we have work to do to ensure that all school psychologists are included and their voices are heard in all aspects of NASP’s activities. We are committed to living the promise of our social justice strategic goal, including the lessons we are learning from this incident and our response to it. We are striving to be transparent in these processes so that the communities most deeply affected can continue the journey with us.