Lawrence Alexander, Thayer Academy's consultant for ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, covered much ground in a recent Zoom webinar sponsored by the Thayer Academy Parent Association (TAPA).
During the hour-long meeting, Alexander debunked a few myths about DEI work, defined important terms such as "equity" and "cultural competency," and urged Thayer families to begin their work toward racial justice at whatever point in that journey they happen to be.
Above all else, Alexander asked parents and guardians to "lean in" to Thayer Academy's Strategic Plan for Racial Equity and Justice, a framework developed with community input and approved this fall by the Board of Trustees.
With such lean-in, Alexander said, a strategic plan can prove "a guiding light for everyone in the community." But without it, he warned, that same plan becomes "a spam folder of good intentions."
"The strategic plan is not the end of the work; it's the beginning of the work," said Alexander, who serves as the lead search consultant for Carney Sandoe & Associates' Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practice.
Dispelling a common misconception, Alexander explained that, in and of itself, diversity isn't all that meaningful, at one level existing merely as a number or statistic. The real meaning, he said, is how a community creates that diversity.
"Diversity is the fruit, but equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging are the elements at the root," he told participants. "No root, no fruit."
Alexander also emphasized that DEI work is everyone's work because it benefits the entire community.
"Ultimately, cultural competency and preparation to lead and succeed in a globally diverse society is an aspiration for all families at Thayer Academy," he said. "DEI is not just good for families and students of color. It's actually most beneficial for white students and white families at Thayer Academy."
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Director of International Student Enrollment Jenn Welch moderated the virtual event along with TAPA Vice President Martha McNally P '22, '24, '27, who offered the TAPA welcome and facilitated the evening's question-and-answer session.
A man of energy and positivity, Alexander embraced the opportunities all Thayer families have to "raise children who will live lives of consequence."
However, he did offer a warning to those who might see DEI work as peripheral to the Academy's mission.
"This work is consequential, this work is everyone's work, and this work will fall to our children if we don't do it," he said.
Lawrence Alexander, the lead search consultant for Carney Sandoe & Associates' Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practice and the Academy's DEI consultant.