01/05/2018 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

Reflections on PoCC

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It's January, which means our next hiring conference in 2018 is FORUM/Diversity on January 26 and 27 in Philadelphia. To prepare us for this combined hiring conference and professional development event, we've been taking measures to get ourselves into the right mindset including Skype conversations with diversity and inclusion faculty members at independent schools and attending the NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC) back in early December.

We've already shared lessons learned and key points from PoCC, so now we offer you the thoughts of some of the CS&A team members who attended the event in Anaheim and how their experience relates to the work they do each day.

Seliat DairoSeliat Dairo, Placement Counselor

PoCC, even more than last year which was my first time attending, left me feeling replenished and renewed. From the incredible, unparalleled insightfulness of Kimberle Crenshaw and her Master class that followed, which CS&A sponsored, to the closing of TaNehisi Coates sharing more of himself than I have ever seen, I feel even more empowered. Both speakers affirmed our choice of keynote speaker for CS&A's FORUM/Diversity to be Tim Wise. Tim, an anti-racist speaker and writer, is important to diversity work particularly in speaking to people who look like him who might be underestimating their role in perpetuating racism and white supremacy. Too often the onus is on people of color, black people in particular, to educate the rest of the world on why we deserve our humanity to be recognized and civil rights honored. So I am excited to see more white people doing the work. Although I attended PoCC not working at an independent school, I still felt an extreme sense of community. I ran into an old friend from elementary school and my former high school basketball coach, who left the school before I graduated, and met so many other new friends and colleagues. I feel so honored to be a part of the space of the independent school world and be able to attend PoCC through Carney Sandoe. I am excited to continue finding ways to support educators of color, particularly through FORUM/Diversity next month.


Jennifer ChristensenJennifer Christensen, Search Consultant

As I partner with schools to find new leaders, many seek candidates who are thoughtful and well versed in diversity, equity, and inclusion work and practices. What better place to connect with such candidates than PoCC?! I’ll admit, I didn’t go to a single session—I was either chatting with friends and former colleagues in the busy hallways of the convention center or holed up in quiet corners of the Hilton interviewing candidates. My favorite part of all of those conversations was hearing about their take aways from sessions and informal conversations with colleagues, and how their students were thinking about what they were learning at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). The PoCC program offers wonderful professional and personal development, and, just as importantly, it gives educators the opportunity to take time out of busy school year schedules to reflect upon, think about, and develop diversity and inclusion practices in their schools. I often trailed different groups of students as I walked to and from my hotel, and as I observed their excitement and sense of wonder and heard their questions and hopes, I alternated between grinning and tearing up. I have no doubt they will go back to their communities with new perspectives and as agents of inclusion and change—that’s the best part of PoCC and SDLC!

Sherry ColemanSherry Coleman, Senior Consultant

PoCC celebrated its 30th year. What an accomplishment! 6,000 attendees including 1,500 students attending SDLC. PoCC is a sustaining conference that has successfully navigated through challenges and obstacles to continues to stand strong since the first conference was held in Reston, Virginia. It was my first year as a teacher in an independent school. We gathered in a one room with 200 people. Anaheim was my 28th conference.

I offer thanks and gratitude to all who have been a part of the process to sustain a conference that is vital to so many.  It nourishes the soul for some many in our schools. I am excited that NAIS is in the beginning stages of recording the history that can be shared by generations to come.

For me, the conference is always a time of reflection, as well as an opportunity to connect with old and new friends and like-minded people who are passionate about equity and inclusion in their schools and organizations. It's also a time to learn from those who are experts in their respective fields. A highlight of the conference for me was the warm and authentic quick chat with Kimberle Crenshaw, the opening keynote speaker, as she was exiting the building. She specializes in gender and race issues and coined the term “intersectionality” in 1989 which speaks to interconnections of social categorizations around race, gender, and class and the impact of such on our systems and institutions, especially on people of color and other under-represented groups. CS&A was the sponsor of her Master Class, which was packed. She was able to delve more deeply into her work discussing the history and impact of racial, gender, and class discrimination.

Jessica WrightJessica Wright, Associate Director of School Services, Executive Assistant to the President

Heading into my first PoCC I did not know what to expect. I had heard this was a phenomenal event – not only well organized – but full of heart and intentionality, and that I would leave feeling excited for the year to come and the work to be done for equity and inclusion. PoCC only exceeded every expectation I had.

One of my favorite sessions was Anita Sanchez’s keynote on Friday morning. She was sharing stories from her new book “The Four Sacred Gifts: Indigenous Wisdom for Modern Times.” Anita discussed how all of our actions effect everything around us: earth, spirit, and body. During her address, she had everyone break into pairs and discuss how we can embrace the gifts of Forgiving the Unforgiveable, Unity,  Healing, and Hope. Each of these gifts can transform your entire being/attitude. In these trying times, finding a way to center yourself and grow is essential. It was incredibly inspiring to start the day that way.

PoCC was an amazing time to invite myself back. It was a true education in every sense of the word. As we put 2017 in the rear-view mirror and find ways to move forward, PoCC was the perfect opportunity to feel energized to make some real change during the year ahead.

Register now for FORUM/Diversity with keynote speaker Tim Wise. Registration is open and free to current CS&A candidates and schools. Learn more and sign up here.

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