This story isn’t new and it’s not unique to us but I want to share it with you because it’s important.
As you likely know by now, Diverse Charter Schools Coalition started in 2014 when leaders from 14 founding member schools came together with policy leaders and advocates who all saw something happening: communities raising up a new type of charter school. One that had a mission to bring children, families and staff together across lines of difference and this new term diverse-by-design was born.
What you may not know is that while our mission statement and program goals were all focused on intentionally diverse settings, our boardroom was majority white. Wonderful, thoughtful, equity-minded white folks — people I still call friends today! But still white and the dissonance to our mission was clear and present.
That board courageously took on that topic and in 2019 our board became majority people of color.
Today, I’m writing to share that our board is majority Black and majority women.
It’s a slightly unusual statement to make. Quite honestly, it’s not one I expected to make. This was not a stated goal set by our board. And as anyone who has ever recruited a non-profit board knows, it’s not just whom you reach out to or who makes it through your vetting process…it’s also who says YES!
But I think it’s a marker of where we are on our journey. One that we are proud of.
As an organization that wants to work towards intentional integration in schools we must acknowledge that advances in “school integration” have come at a cost to Black teachers, families and the broader Black community. In many communities post Brown v. Board, it was Black teachers who lost their jobs when Black schools were shut down to send Black children across town, sometimes miles away, to white schools.
We believe the diverse-by-design movement can chart a new path. By centering the voices, perspectives and leaders who identify as Black we believe we can more fully see our organization’s vision:
Before I welcome our newest leaders I also want to be clear on three things:
- True to our name, we know diversity exists across and within demographic groups; demographic identity does not predict positions on our organizational direction.
- As a living, breathing organization we know there are many dimensions to diversity. We will continue to evolve and look at the composition of our staff team and board to work toward fullying engaging all of those dimensions. We will make deliberate efforts in our ongoing recruitment to reflect these dimensions.
- Diverse representation is critical. AND it is not the end goal of deep and transformational diversity work.
So join me in welcoming Rhonda, Ebonie, Chanel and Kristina. These new Directors include diverse-by-design school founders, current leaders and even a student alumni. It includes organizational executives, strategy and operations experts and former teachers. Even in their short tenure on our team, their support, wisdom, vision and power is what we need to truly live into our next phase.
They will join an amazing group of veteran board members who have been our champions and guides. Read more about all of our board members here.
This work is hard. We’re never done. It’s always going to be an ongoing practice to take steps toward equity and inclusion. We remain committed to intentionally diverse spaces in all facets of our work. Whether in our staff, our Communities of Practice groups, our UnifiED fellows or Annual Convening attendees. Our board reflects one part of this practice, albeit an important one.