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Ana De León Inspired by People of Color Conference

Rudy Brandl

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) presented its 35th annual People of Color Conference (POCC), which was held virtually in December. Over 1,500 independent school educators from around the globe participated in workshops, affinity groups, networking opportunities and master classes led by experts in the field of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). This year's POCC guiding theme was Reckoning with Impacts, Rolling with Just Intents, which was centered on "acknowledging responsibility and taking principled action to redress wrongs as a call to character and courage."

Wardlaw+Hartridge's Associate Director of Admission, Ana De León, attended this year's POCC and described the week as "phenomenal, powerful, engaging, empowering and emotional." In addition to several seminars each day, Ms. De León participated in three Master Classes before and after POCC – equity and emotional intelligence, strategic planning for DEIB work and the importance of "street data" – gathering stories to inform why and how DEIB work is so important in schools.

While this year's theme focused on impacts and intent, Ms. De León added that there was an overarching theme on the importance of belonging and that there was a clear distinction between belonging and merely fitting in. Almost all of the seminars and keynote addresses she attended highlighted the need for schools to focus on ensuring every member of the community feels like they belong: to feel that they are valued, heard and seen and that they are confident that they will be able to affect change in their school community. 

Wardlaw+Hartridge is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging which are part of our school's core values. This year, the school has not only allocated professional development time to this important endeavor, but has also formed a DEIB Facilitator Team to help lead its growth and learning. The W+H Board of Trustees also has approved a DEIB Committee which will be comprised of faculty, staff, administrators, students, parents and alumni. The DEIB Committee will gather data on the community's DEIB experiences, gather information on best practices and make recommendations to the Board based on their findings. Ana proudly serves as a member of both the DEIB Facilitator Team for professional development and the Board's DEIB Committee.