What got you interested in Pollyanna?
Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts make institutions a better place but as they say the devil is always the details: understanding what it takes to become a more inclusive community is the hard part. Pollyanna isn’t just an open-ended conference where anyone can come and sit for a day and listen to experts. It’s really targeted, with individuals from each school coming in and being able to work within constituent groups with people across different school communities. Then you’re able to reconvene with your school and make a targeted plan for your school. It attracted us that it was a working conference, not just a conference where you come sit and listen.
Have there been any surprises in planning the conference?
What surprises me are the similarities: the schools may be different but a lot of the struggles are the same, whether it’s the hiring and retention of faculty and staff of color, or whether it’s diversifying the curriculum. We’re more similar to other independent schools than we are different.
What do you hope attendees will get out of the conference?
What I hope they get is an opportunity outside the hustle and bustle of the normal school day to really delve deeply into these issues in a way beyond just a checklist mentality, in a way beyond something that we did or can tout on our website, but really having an opportunity to talk to people who are similarly situated. One of the biggest obstacles to having these conversations is making time: time is extremely necessary and critical, but also difficult to come by. Number two is discomfort: these topics are not easy so people tend to retreat instead of wanting to tackle these issues head on.
How do you hope Pollyanna will impact your school after the conference?
I think there’s an opportunity for personal and institutional growth. Conference attendees will be able to take what they’ve learned and be introspective about their experience. There’s also the institutional impact these individuals could have, the fact that you bring in senior-level administrators, trustees, faculty, parents and students. You're hitting so many constituencies with the chance to make an action plan and impact the broader community.
How are you feeling about hosting the conference?
We loved the idea when my colleagues went out and visited Dalton's conference, and we were blown away by interest level that we had in our greater LA community. We’re excited that our Harvard-Westlake community is hosting the conference as well, and that will be my biggest joy from all of the hard work to make the conference happen.