In early December, eleven members of Episcopal’s faculty and staff traveled to San Antonio, Texas, to attend the People of Color Conference (PoCC) hosted by the National Association of Independent Schools. As stated in its mission, the conference aims to “provide a safe space for leadership, professional development, and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools.”
More than 7,800 adults and students from independent schools across the country gathered to learn, collaborate, and support one another. The theme was OUR: Reunited in Purpose Elevating Our Worth, Our Agency, & Our Excellence. Keynote speakers included Amanda Nguyen, social entrepreneur and civil rights activist; Nikki Giovanni, world-renowned poet; and Dr. J. Luke Wood, chief diversity officer at San Diego State University.
“As a first-time attendee, PoCC provided me with an opportunity to connect with other education professionals who share similar identities,” Marissa Murdock, assistant director of communications, said. “The learning, fellowship, networking, and affinity spaces enlightened my perspective on several different topics. The conference was truly unforgettable.”
After two years of virtual conferencing, representatives of EHS attended four days of equity seminars, leadership institutes, master classes, and workshops taught by education professionals from all over the globe. The goal of PoCC is to leave attendees with the knowledge and experiences to improve interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climates on their respective campuses. The skills our faculty and staff acquired will have a positive impact on each of their individual departments.
“PoCC has the creative, energetic, and positive energy of a gigantic and cutting-edge trade show,” said Louis Smith, director of the Office of Community and Equity. “Add the fresh perspective that comes naturally from taking a cohort off campus, mix in some team bonding, and sprinkle in the many unscripted opportunities to share the great work happening at Episcopal and when we returned to campus, we were equipped to contribute to vital institutional goals in ways that are impactful and would otherwise not be readily at hand.”
Workshops focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion auditing; cultural competency; mental health and wellness; purpose learning, and a myriad of other topics. With over 100 workshops offered, the conference inspired the Episcopal attendees to purposefully further DEI work in their respective classrooms and offices.
“PoCC continues to be an important professional development experience for me as a space to learn about new trends in equity, diversity, and justice work,” Tran Kim-Senior, senior associate director of admissions and international student coordinator, explained. “Attending the conference provides me with important tools and knowledge to better serve our students and community.”