Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at ACS
The Avery Coonley School is excited to announce the creation of a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Council. The Council’s primary purpose is to provide oversight of the School’s diversity goals and provide input and guidance to achieve the goals. Additionally, the Council will provide insight on issues of DEI, and also advocate for members of our diverse population.
The School's DEI goals are a key part of the 2018 Strategic Plan:
Strengthen our identity as a diverse, inclusive, and multicultural school community. Several additional sub-goals and actions fall under this overarching Strategic Plan goal.
The Council includes representatives from all constituency groups: Parents, Trustees, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, External Experts. Any questions about Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at The Avery Coonley School may be sent to DEI@averycoonley.org.
The Avery Coonley School is committed to moving forward with changes directly related to our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals and values. As we continue to do so, here are some updates from our current school year (2021-2022) to keep you informed:
Q: What is the DEI Action Committee at ACS?
A: The DEI Action Committee comprises staff, administrators, parents, and faculty, including many of our faculty of color. Co-chaired by Gwen Cooper, Middle School Head, and Paul Druzinsky, Head of School, the Committee assists the administration in the daily operations related to issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. They meet weekly and are currently working on an Inclusive Practices Guidebook for faculty and parents.
Q: Who is on the DEI Action Committee at ACS?
- Gwen Cooper—Head of Middle School
- Lisa Wiltz—Head of Lower School
- Barnali Khuntia—Parent and Chair of the DEI Council
- Neha Thakkar—Instructional Technology Coordinator and member of the DEI Council
- Keia Mitchell—Literature teacher
- Linda Cerna—Staff, Technology Assistant
- Fei Dong—Parent and HSA Officer
- Meghan McCarthy—School Social Worker and Counselor
- Angel Van Howe—Counselor, Gifted Education Specialist
- Carolyn Johnson—Director of Development and Administrative liaison to HSA
- Kristen Mitchell—Kindergarten Teacher
- Lawrence Alexander—DEI Consultant
View our Faculty and Staff Bio's here.
Q: Does ACS work with a DEI Consultant?
A: Yes. Lawrence Alexander has met weekly with the DEI Action Committee and the Administrative Team. This collaboration allows ACS to learn from Lawrence’s expertise and build sustainable systems that will enable us to make strategic decisions in DEI. Thus far, Lawrence has conducted two faculty and staff training via Zoom. Before the end of this school year, Lawrence will meet with the Board of Trustees, faculty and staff, and the DEI Action Committee. Below are links to Lawrence at Carney Sandoe and on LinkedIn.
Lawrence Alexander | Carney Sandoe & Associates Lawrence Alexander II (he-him-his) - LinkedIn
Q: Is the DEI Council working on strategic goals?
A: Yes, the Council is still active and has primarily focused on getting the Parent Affinity Groups up and running. The Council’s strength is in representing alums, faculty, staff, and current parents whose collective expertise and networks related to DEI help us see beyond ourselves. They will continue to come together to collect resources, share best practices, and make recommendations to the school’s administration. They will also connect the DEI Council with The Avery Coonley School's next Head of School, Dr. Montgomery.
Q: Does ACS have Parent Affinity Groups? How do I sign up?
A: A key objective of the strategic plan was the creation of Affinity Groups. Affinity groups can be a place for underrepresented people in a community to come together to feel less isolated and more connected, build community and create lasting friendships. During affinity groups, participants might share and talk about their experiences or focus on working towards a particular goal.
We’re proud to report that many Parent Affinity Groups are up and running!
- Black parent group
- Muslim parent group
- Asian parent group
- Jewish parent group
- Latinx parent group
- LGTBQIA+ parent group
- Transracial Adoptive Parent or Adoptee Group (non-student)
- Biracial/Multiracial Parent Affinity
To sign up to join an Affinity Group, please contact our DEI team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Is there a student DEI group?
A: Yes. The Student Diversity Leadership Group (SDLG) has been meeting regularly since the Spring of 2021. They are having some great conversations, helping problem solve, and offering support to one another in navigating issues related to identity, representation, and school life. If your child is in Group 6, 7, or 8 and is interested in joining, please contact our DEI team at email@example.com.
If you have any questions, please reach out to our DEI team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the members of the DEI Council:
- Barnali Das Khuntia - Chair
- Asma Afridi
- Jaden Blankenship
- Zoe Briskey '10
- Natalie Chen '04
- Gabrielle Green '90
- Camille Shrouder-Henry
- Jeremy Norman
- Kara Peters '00
- Dina Pilipczuk
- JP Ramirez
- Priyanka Rupani '02
- Jaime Surdynski
- Neha Thakkar
- Nina Tipton