Ravenscroft Hosts First NCAIS Administrators of Color Conference

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Ravenscroft Hosts First NCAIS Administrators of Color Conference
Justin Brandon, Associate Head of School

The conference, chaired by Associate Head of School Justin Brandon, was organized by administrators from independent schools across the state and featured national thought leaders.


On Thursday, Oct. 19, and Friday, Oct. 20, Ravenscroft hosted the first North Carolina Association of Independent Schools (NCAIS) Administrators of Color Conference. The conference, which I chaired, was organized by a committee of administrators from independent schools across the state, in partnership with NCAIS Executive Director Stephanie Keaney.  

NCAIS is an association of almost 90 independent schools across the state, with over 3,800 teachers serving approximately 38,000 students. Their mission is to promote educational excellence and empower member schools to thrive in pursuit of their missions. As such, the association provides a wide variety of professional learning opportunities, encourages and facilitates communication among member schools and cohort groups, and provides guidance and support for heads and boards. 

Our committee met with Keaney last year to propose a conference that would provide a tailored professional development opportunity for the growing number of administrators of color at independent schools in North Carolina. The conference would be a great addition to the comprehensive professional development NCAIS already offers each year, including the Women in Leadership Conference, the Diversity and Inclusion Conference, and the Academic Leadership Conference.  

Clockwise from top: Attendees of the conference in the dining hall of the Olander Center for Student Life at the A.E. Finley Activity Center; Ravenscroft’s Lisa Horton, left, and Sarah Wright, right, with colleagues from Durham Academy; Brandon, center, with Darryl Ford, Vice President of Education Leadership Searches at Carney Sandoe and Associates (and a former Head of School at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia) and Mark Reed, Managing Director at the Belk Foundation (and a former Head of School at Charlotte Country Day School). Photos courtesy of Shaw Photography 

My experience as one of the founders and co-chairs of the Administrators of Color Conference at my previous school, Francis Parker in Chicago, was very helpful in providing a template for the format and vision for the conference. As a committee, we worked together to plan a conference schedule that was both informative and restorative. 

The conference brought more than 70 administrators of color from North Carolina and 11 other states to Ravenscroft to hear from national thought leaders — including representatives from the NAIS and Guilford College, current and former heads of school, career consultants, and diversity, equity and inclusion practitioners — to share the latest research on pedagogy and their own experiences in leadership, career development, and personal and professional growth. The conference also created a space for networking and has fostered the development of both local and national networks for the educators who attended.

Clockwise from top left:  Assistant Head of Upper School for Student Leadership Tawambi Settles, right, with Immana Sherrill, Head of School at Trinity Episcopal School in Charlotte; Brandon and Head of Middle School Bernardo Guzmán, center, with fellow attendees; John Bower ’03, Head of Middle School at the Rivers School in Weston, Massachusetts. Photos courtesy of Shaw Photography

I believe the opportunity for Ravenscroft to host the first conference truly speaks to the school community’s ongoing commitment to developing leaders and supporting professional development opportunities and programming in diversity, equity and inclusion in schools. 

Joining me at the conference were Head of Middle School Bernardo Guzmán, Assistant Head of Lower School for Student Life Sarah Wright, Director of Education Technology Mitch Carraway, Assistant Head of School for People and Culture Lisa Horton, Associate Head of Upper School Angela Miklavcic and Assistant Head of Upper School for Student Leadership Tawambi Settles.  

Forsyth Country Day School in Winston-Salem will host next year’s conference.