• Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Rick Holifield Addresses National Partnership for Educational Access Forum

Yesterday, Lawrenceville’s Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement Rick Holifield participated in a panel discussion hosted by the National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA). The topic of the discussion: how independent schools have responded to the social media movement led by students and alumni on @Blackat accounts.

NPEA convened independent school leaders to learn more about the community conversations they are having in response to this important movement and what steps they will take to ensure they are hearing and responding to the voices and experiences of Black and BIPOC students on their campuses. They also discussed how they will address the impact of the most recent incidents of racism and police violence in the country.

“[School leadership] is talking about this constantly . . . and the [educational] resources our faculty and students are sharing have been extremely impressive. It lets me know that these people are poised and ready to go,” said Holifield.

He described what he called Lawrenceville’s “holistic” approach to social justice education, accountability, and the rebuilding of trust as outlined in a 13-point action step plan to create and support an anti-racist campus. Holifield provided an overview of the plan, specifically noting Lawrenceville’s hire of three new Diversity Coordinators, as well as ongoing anti-racist training, and partnerships with organizations including the Anti Defamation League and Cultures of Dignity. He also shared that, later in the day, he would be co-facilitating restorative justice training during a retreat for Senior Staff with Toni McMurphy, founder of Infinite Impact.

Addressing the 73 attendees from independent schools around the country, Holifield said, “We’ve all been called to action, but the truth is there’s a lot of harm that’s been revealed and trust has become an issue. It’s going to take accountability, transparency, and communication to create trust. Without that accountability piece, there won’t be trust within the Black community.”

Holifield continued, “Our work is never enough and it’s never fast enough, so it is important to always communicate what we are doing. . . We need to partner with the people who call [us] out [to let them know racism] should not be happening on our watch.”

For additional information, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of Public Relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.