When I took on the leadership of the Office for Identity, Culture and Institutional Equity for a nursery-grade 12 school I remember saying to the head of school that I could only do the job if there was an aspect of scholarship to the work. Though I knew that in practice diversity work was not new for me, I also knew that I was stepping into a new field of study. I had to ground my life experience in new knowledge, I needed to improve my equity and inclusion language skills and develop cultural and global competency within more formal frameworks. I didn’t, in that moment, know about the National SEED Project, but 10 years later I can’t imagine my life without SEED.
I attended New Leaders Week in the summer of 2011 and SEED tools and pedagogy not only infused the DEI work at my school, but informs my personal relationships and interactions every day. Learning to live “the scholarship of the selves and the shelves” is always an important reminder that both are necessary contributions to how we envision a more equitable world and systems that honor and include all people. I find this especially compelling today as we look for new models for public safety across our country.
I am excited to be returning to the SEED staff for a third summer. In preparation I have been thinking about the stories I will carry with me and the identities I will bring into the space every day. Stories of childhood, career and family. The stories of shedding identities: once life partner and daughter and now family elder and grandparent. Once an employed professional and now retired from full-time work. The multiple identities I carry and the stories they are attached to reveal the inner workings of my journey. Before there was SEED I focused on markers and milestones. SEED has helped me to hold onto those markers and milestones in a meaningful way enriching my journey, connecting me to people across difference, and moving me to question my responsibility to and the impact I have on others.