A Message from the Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
One thing that drew me to Williston Northampton — after a decade of working to advance equity and access in secondary and higher education— was the chance to create real change in the lives of young people. A boarding school environment offers a unique opportunity to be deeply involved in the daily lives of teens and to foster trust, learning, connections, and community. I have been honored to take on the role of Williston’s inaugural Dean of DEIB—and hand in hand with the entire community—to help steward the goals laid out in the five-year Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. The number one priority for my office is to create a community in which every student feels a genuine sense of belonging, a joyful community in which every student feels they can be accepted, celebrated, and respected as his, her, or their authentic self in all areas of campus life. I invite you to read more about this work below, and to be in touch with the office of DEIB if you have questions or want to help advance this important work at Williston.
– Nikki Chambers
What are diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging?
Diversity involves differences between social identity groups based on markers such as ability, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, and so much more (Adams, et.al., 2013).
Equity means every member of the Williston community receives what he, she, or they need to thrive academically and socio-emotionally (Aguilar, 2020).
Inclusion is the deliberate act of bringing people into the Williston community, the community norms, and into the opportunities that will allow for meaningful pursuit of happiness (Winkle-Wagner & Locks, 2014).
Belonging refers to a human need to feel secure, supported, and accepted in the Williston community as his, her, or their authentic self (Baldoni, 2017).
DEIB Strategic Plan
Beginning in summer 2020, Williston Northampton School’s 12-member Anti-Racism Committee—made up of alumni, trustees, faculty, and members of the Heads Visiting Council—met frequently to compile the school’s five-year Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.
The six-point plan focuses on revamping administrative infrastructure, increasing faculty and student diversity, enhancing the student experience, augmenting employee training, seeking community involvement, and raising funds to support these efforts. In the drop-down menus below, you can find the status of our progress to date against these goals, which we will be updating throughout the year.
DEIB Strategic Plan Progress
Goal 1: Revamp Administrative and Governance Infrastructure
Action 1.1: Completed
Hire a full-time Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) who will help lead the execution of the DEIB Strategic Plan and coordinate the measuring of its implementation and effectiveness.
Action 1.2: Completed
Make the Dean of DEIB a member of the Senior Administrative Team.
Action 1.3: Completed
Create a new standing Board of Trustees Committee on Diversity; the Dean of DEIB will serve as the primary liaison to this committee.
Action 1.4: In progress
Continue to monitor BIPOC membership on the Board of Trustees and identify potential future BIPOC candidates.
Action 1.5: In progress
Consistent with and in tandem with increases in recruitment and hiring of additional BIPOC faculty, increase representation of BIPOC faculty in leadership/administrative roles at Williston.
Action 1.6: Not yet started
Establish a Faculty/Staff Diversity Committee to support the work of the Dean of DEIB.
Goal 2: Increase Faculty and Student Diversity
Action 2.1: In progress
Broaden BIPOC faculty recruitment efforts by pursuing best-practice strategies such as attending BIPOC job fairs, conducting on-campus recruitment at HBCUs, and building relationships with college and university career-center staff.
Action 2.2: In progress
Broadly promote job openings to people-of-color networks including parents, alumni, and current teachers.
Action 2.3: Not yet started
Develop a mentorship/peer program for faculty and students of color; consider partnering with other schools in the region via affinity gatherings.
Action 2.4: In progress
Make Williston more welcoming to BIPOC faculty and students to improve retention; develop materials for incoming BIPOC faculty and students, such as a resource book.
Action 2.5: In progress
Create more opportunities for current BIPOC students and faculty to connect with prospective classmates and colleagues; create a select group of diverse admission tour guides for prospective BIPOC students.
Action 2.6: In progress
Ensure that BIPOC students have equal resources and encouragement to secure leadership positions and celebrate those achievements.
Goal 3: Enhance Student Experience and Education
Action 3.1: In progress
Ensure all students share a baseline “common experience” related to DEIB education.
Action 3.2: In progress
Along with traditional disciplinary options, create and incorporate restorative justice techniques when students use racial and/or biased language.
Action 3.3: In progress
Establish and maintain student-centered and teacher-supported affinity spaces for all groups of students.
Action 3.4: In progress
Be aware of and better support the unique social-emotional needs of BIPOC students.
Action 3.5: In progress
Sponsor student attendance at local and regional diversity conferences, including the People of Color Conference (PoCC) and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC).
Action 3.6: In progress
Seek out a broad array of undergraduate college options for all students, including both HBCUs and other top-tier universities and colleges.
Goal 4: Augment Faculty, Staff, and Administrative Training
Action 4.1: In progress
Set aside money and time in the annual calendar for training and educational events for faculty, staff, and the Board of Trustees.
Action 4.2: Not yet started
Develop and promote faculty/staff affinity groups. Train affinity-group leaders in facilitation.
Action 4.3: Not yet started
Require mandatory training in inclusive pedagogical teaching and cultural competency practices for all incoming teachers and administrators as part of their overall orientation to the school community.
Action 4.4: In progress
Provide professional development opportunities (PoCC, White Privilege Conference, AISNE and NAIS diversity and inclusion training, workshops, and webinars) to faculty throughout the academic year and summer.
Action 4.5: Not yet started
Train dorm parents to be more culturally competent/aware regarding the BIPOC experience; provide restorative justice training for dorm heads and all members of the Deans Office.
Action 4.6: In progress
Ensure that Williston maintains and effectively implements appropriately non-discriminatory hiring practices, and that grading, discipline and college placement practices are and continue to be applied without regard to race, religion, gender, ethnicity or any other category.
Goal 5: Seek Community and Alumni Involvement
Action 5.1: In progress
Let our BIPOC community know they have been and will be heard on issues of diversity, equity, and belonging during their time at Williston and beyond. In addition, communicate on a regular and ongoing basis about progress against our DEIB plan. Use objective measurable survey methodology to assess success of the plan.
Action 5.2: In progress
Through our programs and policies, affirm our shared commitment that all constituencies play a role in making Williston an anti-racist and welcoming community.
Action 5.3: Not yet started
Be intentional in asking all constituencies to assist in the recruitment, retention, and overall support of our BIPOC students and faculty.
Action 5.4: In progress
Relaunch a BIPOC alumni affinity group that assists the Dean of DEIB and the school with DEIB efforts, while connecting BIPOC alumni with each other and the school. As part of this effort, implement new data gathering for BIPOC to self-identify race, ethnicity, and other affinity group connections.
Action 5.5: In progress
Increase on-campus activities for BIPOC with both affinity-specific and school-wide diversity events; invite BIPOC alumni back to campus for round-tables, mentorship, networking, etc.; establish a BIPOC annual alumni award.
Action 5.6: Not yet started
Seek formal input from current and graduating BIPOC students and their families through a survey about their experiences at Williston, as well as their aspirations and support needs for the future as alumni of the school.
Goal 6: Raise Funds and Increase Endowment
Action 6.1 : Completed
Establish, sustain, and endow a new Equity Fund to create a reliable source of supplemental aid for students with high financial need, going above and beyond the cost of tuition and books to underwrite the spectrum of additional expenses related to the true cost of attendance.
Action 6.2: In progress
Foster enrollment of additional BIPOC students with high financial need.
Action 6.3: Completed
Broaden opportunities for Williston Northampton Fund donors to earmark their annual fund gifts in support of expenses related to ongoing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts.
Action 6.4: In progress
Seek targeted fundraising support for students, faculty, administrators, and staff for DEIB programming, professional development, and training.
Action 6.5: In progress
Build financial resources to attract, recruit, and retain young faculty of color.
Action 6.6: In progress
Take advantage of DEIB enthusiasm among many of our actual and potential donors by developing a clear message about Williston’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Be prepared to articulate why DEIB is essential to the success of Williston’s institutional advancement.
Programs and Events
Why Not Speak Day Every year, our entire community sets aside a full day for discussions about identity and inclusion. WNS Day features a keynote speaker and dozens of workshops run by students, faculty, and visiting presenters on topics including race, gender, identity, and belonging.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Through workshops, guest speakers, performances, and cross-cultural sharing, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr..
Lunch & Learn Once a week, faculty and staff are invited to participate in honest, brave, and productive conversations about race and racism facilitated by Dean of DEIB Nikki Chambers for 30 minutes during lunch break.
Community Identity Discussions Community Identity Discussions are forums where the community gathers to hear powerful stories of family, home, culture, identity, and more from Williston students, faculty, and special guests.
A Sense of Belonging
With our 5-year Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging as a launchpad, Williston is finding new ways to ensure everyone in the community feels they belong. Read about a few here.
Student clubs provide space for affinity groups to gather and support one another, while celebrating their culture and sharing their pride with the wider community. Any student is welcome to form a club at any time.
Black Student Union (BSU)
Black Student Union (BSU) is a student-centered organization committed to the social, cultural, and academic needs of Black-identifying students attending Williston. The meetings are designed to celebrate and uplift its members.
Boys to Men
Boys to Men is a group that brings young men and faculty together to talk about what it means to be a “man” in the 21st Century. In our meetings, we foster honest, judgement-free dialogue where we challenge the societal concepts of masculinity through supportive meetings. We support each person in the room to be that man that one another needs to navigate their journey through positivity, love, fellowship, and brotherhood.
Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA)
The Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) works to create a school community where all students feel welcome and supported, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. By organizing events like Pride Prom, Queer Brunch, PRIDE Week, and Day of Silence, we create more visibility for LGBTQ+ people and provide opportunities for education and celebration.
Girls Support Girls
Girls Support Girls (GSG) is club for people who identify as female, who will learn and talk about female empowerment and support one another.
International Students Association
A club for international students to share concerns, create new friendships, and plan events.
The Jewish Club educates students who are not familiar with the religion, and serves as a gathering space for Jewish students. They cook Jewish foods, talk about birth right to Israel, and this year will be organizing a sports equipment drive for schools in Israel. They also celebrate Jewish Holidays.
The Latinx Club is a student run club dedicated to spreading knowledge and appreciation of the languages and cultures of Spain, Mexico, Central and South America to the Williston Northampton School community.
Williston Asian Alliance
The Williston Asian Alliance Club’s mission is to offer a relatable and supportive environment for the Asian community at Williston, while educating other members of the Williston community on Asian culture and what it means to be an Asian student at Williston through various activities and events.
Williston Neurodiversity Club
The Williston Neurodiversity Club is a place for all the neurodivergent students, and those who would like to learn more, to come together and find a small community of people with similar experiences to get to know. In addition to our bi-weekly meetings where we come together to chat about different neurodiversity-related topics, we also hope to host a number of movie nights and other events for the whole Williston community.
How Donors Can Support DEIB
Williston continues to raise funds in support of DEIB. Here are just a few recent examples:
• Those who give to the Williston Northampton Fund can allocate their gift to support specific areas of interest, such as academics, arts, athletics, and financial aid. Beginning this year, donors also have had the opportunity to funnel their investment in the school to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) initiatives. In fact, to date, more than 200 donors have contributed over $80,000 in support of our DEIB programming through their gift to the Williston Northampton Fund.
• One of the key priorities of our $70 million fundraising campaign, Williston Builds is Access and Belonging. Read more about our goals here or watch our Access and Belonging video.
The DEIB Committee of the Williston Board of Trustees
This standing committee of the Board of Trustees is responsible for oversight and direction of the school’s continuing efforts around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Nikki Chambers, Williston’s Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, serves as liaison to this committee.
DEIB Committee Members: Bryant McBride ’84, Chair, John Booth ’83, Mary Ellen Bull ’83, Jondelle Jenkins ’71, Angela Perry P’21, Kristi Prigmore ’88, Joe Rigali ’70, Mijanou Spurdle ’86