01/31/2018 by Carney Sandoe Staff | Conferences
FORUM/Diversity 2018: A Recap
“We’re in both interesting and incredibly dangerous times,” noted Tim Wise as he began his keynote address at our fourth-annual FORUM/Diversity. He also noted that he was the first white keynote speaker at our event, one of a few intentional changes we made this year to our still young event.
Nearly 750 school representatives and CS&A candidates joined us for FORUM/Diversity on January 26 and 27 in Philadelphia. Spanning two days for the first time ever (another intentional change for this year), our event was made to support schools in their diverse hiring needs and provide marginalized groups with opportunities to interview with the nations top K-12 independent, private schools–and we’re confident we lived up to that promise.
The event kicked off with a welcome from Kim Garner, our Director of Conferences, who explained how CS&A’s Diversity Committee chose this year’s theme, “Where Do We Go Now? Navigating Privilege, Equity, and Voice.” Placement Associate Ada McElroy read thoughts from our President Devereaux McClatchey and introduced our honorary faculty members, an impressive group of diversity practitioners, educators, and school leaders from across the country. After an introduction from Placement Counselor Seliat Dairo, Wise, our keynote speaker and one of the most prominent anti-racism writers and educators in the U.S., took the stage. Wise, speaking as an independent school parent himself, discussed the state of our schools and blatantly admitted that we are less committed to diversity in our schools than we think. He said that inequality is built into the system and is a feature of our schools, not a glitch. In order to remedy the problem, we can’t just update the proverbial app. We need to build completely new software.
Wise’s poignant analogy was great fuel as professional development panels began following his address. The panels featured a myriad of talent as multicultural leaders from schools across the country delivered inspirational presentations and hosted discussions around issues ranging from hiring and retaining diverse faculty, tackling conversations about race and identity, and women in leadership. We’ve already received good feedback from attendees that a two-day event gave hiring contacts and candidates more time to participate in professional development, and we’re pleased that the change in schedule has allowed for that.
A tradition of FORUM/Diversity has been an interactive art installation representative of each event’s theme. In our effort to bring a creative and reflective element to our conference, the art project has been an anticipated part of every year. This year, in response to our theme, the art project centered around self care and featured buttons with small reminders such as “Drink Water,” “3 Deep Breaths,” “Practice Mindfulness,” and “Be Selfish.” Conference attendees were encouraged to take a button (or two) and keep them somewhere where they’ll serve as a cue to practice self care.
It’s hard to believe that FORUM/Diversity is already behind us this year. We’re still relishing in the noticeably uplifting vibe that surrounded us at the event, and the knowledge that we were able to connect schools and candidates with each other in a unique setting. We hope that attendees took away the same feelings of hope and energy to keep working towards improving opportunities for diverse groups within our schools. It’s important that we don’t just talk about diversity, but that we live it.
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