The Next Step Forward

Sarah Aldag
New Partnership Advances Commitment to Issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
A new partnership with VISIONS, Inc. is now underway, representing another big step forward in the School’s commitment to addressing issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Over the course of the next several months, a team of experts led by Drs. Valerie Batts and Jeanne Firth will work with the School in support of achieving greater equity and inclusion, beginning with an assessment of the current school climate and organization.
“We chose VISIONS because of their depth of experience, particularly in working in independent school settings. We think their approach is a good fit with our organization,” notes Director of DEI Initiatives Bethany Dickerson Wynder of the nonprofit that offers workshops and training, organizational consulting, and youth engagement curriculum around DEI issues. 
Both Batts and Firth possess the breadth and depth of experience the School hopes will bring meaningful, positive change. Valerie A. Batts, Ph.D., is vice president, training and development, and a founding director of VISIONS, Inc. She is a clinical psychologist who has been providing executive coaching, consultation, and technical assistance to corporate and nonprofit executives since 1987. Jeanne Firth has been working with the VISIONS model since 2013, first as part of the founding staff team of Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans, Louisiana. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Geography and the Environment and an MSc in Gender, Development, and Globalization, both from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Wynder anticipates several positive outcomes for the SPS community, including a greater comfort level involving conversations across difference and organizational changes that address unintentional bias, especially around race. In its beginning stages, VISIONS, Inc. will conduct an organizational assessment that will include group and individual interviews with faculty and staff members representing the School’s administrative, academic, and athletic departments.
“I’m reminded that working on DEI is a ‘marathon, not a sprint,’ so we are taking a long approach to making deep and lasting change in our School,” wrote Wynder in an e-mail to participants. “I’m looking forward to working with all of you across the organization in this important work.” 



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