Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)


8.27.20

Dear Lovett Community:

We have successfully returned to the Riverbank! Once again Lovett’s classrooms, labs, fields and studios are filled with learners and promise. Faculty are streaming in and out of classrooms, Lower Schoolers are cohorting, and Middle and Upper School students toggle between classroom and home (for the time being) as part of our commitment to keeping our community healthy. I am grateful for the spirit of collaboration and compromise that has gotten us all to this point under the most challenging of conditions.

As promised, I want to share an update on important work the school is undertaking toward our goal of One Lovett, One Pride, where shared, mutually beneficial expectations, practices and commitments allow all our community to thrive. A school community rooted in love and belonging, and the knowledge that we are all, in our unique and individual identities, made in the image of a kind and loving God.
Last fall, the Board of Trustees initiated a strategic planning process that allowed it to draw out many voices and perspectives across the community to create a culture of belonging that embodies our core values for all Lions. Though this spring and summer heightened national awareness of the emotional urgency of DEI work, the strategic commitment did not begin after the murder of George Floyd and local and national protests against anti-Blackness and systemic racism.
 
This spring and summer, we have taken a conscious focus to ensure that all Black students and families at Lovett feel supported and can thrive. Where many Black students have succeeded, too many have not enjoyed a full and rich experience at school. That is a past failure but will not be our future reality. Reflecting the words of the committee:
 
“The visible and poignant question of Black lives matter(ing) in American culture and systems, galvanized our resolve to be better in our future than we have been in our past."
 
As committee co-chairs Brian Boutté and Malon Courts shared in a letter to myself and Board Chair John O. Knox:
 
“This is not about trying to blame or broad brush all White students and or families as a problem;  yet while many Black families have (historically) reported wonderful experiences at Lovett, too many have not always felt fully affirmed or mission-included. This perspective reflects similar stories we have heard from around the region and country, whether in independent schools or other large organizations and cultural systems.”

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of our Board has submitted a report outlining institutional objectives and expectations. The committee’s work is broken down into four key areas of focus: Student Experience, Family and Employee Experience, Institutional Policy & Practice, and Pedagogy. Each of the four subcommittees has further organized recommended strategies in a 30, 90, and 180+ day timeline. These four workstreams laid out in the committee’s recommendations touch all the corners of our organization like no other four could. I've taken these recommendations and distilled these workflows into strategic commitments of the highest importance to our work.

Lovett and our educational process are based in relationship. Eva Lovett established nearly 100 years ago the importance of teachers knowing who they are teaching and the priority Lovett places on that. I translate this to teaching through being known and how it plays through the complex social environment in which students, teachers, and parents interact. It is our job to address the social awkwardness that stems from our failure to fully understand each other, particularly when there are differences in identity, background, and perspective.
 
This work in Organizational Development and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion integration is for ALL. We are creating a strategic foundation and approach that will significantly enhance the outcomes and experience of and in a Lovett education for EVERY student, independent of their background and or identity.

This is a journey that will require years of investment, focus, and hard work.  Our success will be measured in years and not months. And where we can make immediate and impactful differences we will not hesitate to do so.  Frederick Douglass famously said, "If there is no struggle, there is no progress." It is through struggle and breaking down that comes rebirth, growth, evolution.
 
This is a season of growth for Lovett, one we are leaning into with determination as we work to address our own challenges regarding equity and inclusion, innovative 21st-century curriculum and programming, and community building that affirms, nurtures, and sustains all Lions, across the diversity of identities and backgrounds who are here and will continue to come. Please join me in sincerely thanking the members of the Board’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for their devotion to this work over the summer and moving forward.
 
Onward,
 
Meredyth Cole
Head of School

List of 5 items.

  • Letter from the Board of Trustees 06.18.20

    6.18.20

    Dear Lovett Community:

    We hope that each of you and your families are well.
     
    We are writing to you today as a follow-up to our communication last week relative to the establishment of a new committee of our Board of Trustees reporting to our Head of School and Chairman. The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee has been charged by the Board to ensure that all families of color thrive at Lovett. The committee’s work will seek to understand issues, determine appropriate policy, and establish the indicators and measurements for which the administration will be accountable. Our collective goal is for all members of our community to feel a true sense of belonging. 

    The committee members are as follows:

    Brian Boutté (Co-Chair)

    Mr. Boutté is a senior executive with deep international experience in management, marketing and sales in premier companies.  He currently works as a business consultant, advising senior leadership on community and stakeholder engagement. Previously, he was Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for GrafTech International, General Manager for GE Energy and a Director of the Coca-Cola Company.  He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

    Mr. Boutté currently serves as a Lovett Trustee Emeritus, after having served as an Active Lovett Trustee from 2009 to 2016.  Brian and his wife Jennifer have two graduates of Lovett, Matthew, Class of 2016, and Marilyn, Class of 2018.

    Malon Courts (Co-Chair)

    Mr. Courts is President and CEO of Atlantic Investment Company, a privately-held family office focused on public and private investments.  He also serves as Chairman of the Board for Roanoke College, his alma mater.  

    Mr. Courts currently serves on the Lovett Board of Trustees as Chairman of the school’s endowment committee.  Malon and his wife Sarah are the parents of Lovett graduate Avery, Class of 2018, and current student Sophie, Class of 2021.

    Michael Hardee

    Dr. Hardee is an invasive cardiologist with a focus on valvular heart disease and nuclear cardiology.  He currently serves as Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at WellStar Douglas Hospital.  He attended University of Florida where he received both his undergraduate and medical degree.  He completed his internal medicine residency at Emory University and his cardiology fellowship at Duke University.  

    Dr. Hardee has served on Lovett’s Board of Trustees since 2016.  He and his wife Debbie have two Lovett graduates, Madison, Class of 2015, and Michael, Class of 2019.

    David Wall Rice

    Dr. Rice is Professor of psychology at Morehouse College, where he also serves as research lead for the Identity, Art and Democracy Research Lab.  Former Danforth Endowed Chair of Psychology and Associate Provost, Dr. Rice graduated from Morehouse College, has a Master of Science in Journalism from Columbia University, and received his doctorate in personality psychology from Howard University.  He completed postdoctoral study at Teachers College, Columbia University.

    Dr. Rice has served on Lovett’s Board of Trustees since 2017. He and his wife Mikki have two sons, Biko and Stokely. David and Mikki will join the Lovett community as parents for the 2020-21 school year.  

    Thaddeus Rolle ’04

    Thaddeus Rolle is an experienced business development and partnerships professional with a background in the technology sector. He is Senior Manager of Partnerships at Mailchimp, with previous roles at Salesforce and Rev.io. Mr. Rolle graduated with a degree in Economics from Wake Forest University.

    A 2004 graduate of Lovett, Mr. Rolle currently serves as President of the Lovett Alumni Association. He is married to Erin Everhart.

    Irma Shrivastava 

    Ms. Shrivastava is the Chief Marketing Officer for Randstad USA.  She previously was SVP of Marketing & Alliances for the American Cancer Society and spent 17 years with The Coca-Cola Company.  She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and received her MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Ms. Shrivastava has served on Lovett’s Board of Trustees since 2017.  Irma and her husband Manish are the parents of two Lovett students, Rani, Class of 2023, and Rohan, Class of 2025.

    John Staton ’84

    Mr. Staton is President of Concepts Sport, the leading sports licensing company for leisure sportswear in the country.  He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, where he serves on the advisory board for the Institute for Arts and Humanities.

    Mr. Staton is a Lovett graduate from the Class of 1984.  He has been on Lovett’s Board of Trustees since 2016, currently serving as the Board’s Vice Chair.  John and his wife Maggie are the parents of two Lovett graduates, John, Class of 2017 and Hailey, Class of 2020, and one current student, Caki, Class of 2022.  

    Megan Apple Stephenson ’93

    Ms. Stephenson is the business manager and financial advisor for Bellwether Landscape Architects. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

    Ms. Stephenson is a member of Lovett's Board of Trustees, served as Co-President of the Lovett Parent Association (LPA) last year, and President of The Lovett Alumni Association in 2015-16. In addition, she co-chaired the 1926 Committee for the 2018-19 True Blue Annual Fund. Both she and her husband John are Lovett graduates from the Class of 1993. They are the parents of Lovett students May, Class of 2025, and Jack, Class of 2027.

    Vanessa Wilkins ’11

    Ms. Wilkins is an experienced digital media professional with a background in marketing and journalism. She is a Digital Marketing Associate at Universal Pictures, with previous roles at Civic Entertainment Group and Good Morning America. Ms. Wilkins attended the University of Southern California where she received her bachelor's degree in Print & Digital Journalism in 2015.  Vanessa is a Lovett graduate from the Class of 2011.
     
    We would like to express our deepest gratitude to these committee members, each of whom has a deep love for and connection to Lovett, for serving our school in this important work.  We have asked the committee to work through the summer and make their initial recommendations to school leadership by August 15 so that measurable change can begin in earnest for the 2020-21 school year.

    In addition, we thank those of you who have provided Lovett with recommendations to improve the experiences of our students of color. Each of these ideas will be shared with the committee at its first meeting.  We also thank the many members of the Lovett community who have voiced their willingness to serve Lovett in this work. We expect to create additional constituent advisory boards during the upcoming school year.

    Lastly, we ask for the commitment of the entire Lovett community to support this necessary work to ensure Lovett becomes a fully inclusive community. We intend to be transparent to each of you as the committee progresses its work. We look forward to working together to ensure that each child entrusted to us feels connected, included, supported and respected at The Lovett School.

    R. Reid French, Jr.
    Chairman of the Board

    John O. Knox
    Incoming Chairman of the Board

    Meredyth Cole
    Head of School
  • Letter from the Lovett Board of Trustees 06.11.20

    Dear Lovett Community:

    As leaders of The Lovett School, we want to keep each of you informed of the actions we are taking to ensure that Lovett is a community where families of color thrive. We know that we have significant work ahead of us to achieve this goal. You have our commitment to roll up our sleeves, listen to our community, and then take action for the betterment of our school, city, and nation.

    We want to thank each person who participated in our online community discussion on belonging at Lovett earlier this week. There were great ideas shared as to how Lovett can move forward to create a greater sense of belonging for each and every student. We look forward to our second online session later today for all who have registered. We understand that we have much more listening to do.

    To ensure sustainable and effective change, the Lovett Board is establishing a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee. This committee will be responsible for working with Lovett’s leadership to develop a comprehensive plan of action. 

    We will be naming the committee’s membership in the coming days and have already hired outside experts who can advise us on this important work. We are committed to keeping you informed of our efforts, so please look for another communication from us in this regard in a week’s time.

    Lovett is committed to being transparent and accountable with each of you as we work together to ensure that every child entrusted to us feels connected, included, supported, and respected at The Lovett School.

    Sincerely,

    R. Reid French, Jr.
    Chairman of the Board

    John O. Knox
    Incoming Chairman of the Board

    Meredyth Cole
    Head of School
  • Letter to Community from Lovett Head of School 06.07.20

    Dear Lovett Community,
     
    Recent nationwide events protesting long-standing, systemic injustice and police brutality against members of the Black community demand that all of us address the critical lessons to be learned and make necessary changes. It has also opened up the pain of prior experiences in our community as well. These experiences call on us to expand and re-prioritize our efforts to ensure no one at Lovett endures discrimination. As a school and community, we must acknowledge the fact that our school has not been a safe and welcoming place for all of the students in our charge. Many have left our gates and still walk our hallways feeling like they don’t belong. The Lovett School is committed to doing more.
     
    Meetings this week with Black faculty, staff, Upper & Middle School students, and parents - as well as emails and calls with alumni and others - have been painful but valuable first steps in moving our community forward. Their candor and willingness to share has left me simultaneously humbled, grateful, and dismayed. Nearly without exception, all have expressed their willingness to partner in Lovett’s journey to stand clearly and unabashedly in support of every Black member of our community - past, present, and future.
     
    As an institution, The Lovett School has a painful history with racism that goes back many decades. We do not condone racism or want any member of our community to feel silenced due to their identity. Over the years there have been hurts too numerous to count and actions that must be acknowledged and condemned. Together, we have work to do. Listening, empathizing, and understanding are at the heart of how we at Lovett will evolve. 
     
    As many of you are aware, this past fall we began a school-wide strategic design process, working to define our core values and vision for Lovett’s next century as an educational institution. Our efforts of the past year made it very obvious that one of the core values to which we aspire and must hold ourselves accountable is that everyone in our community feels a sense of belonging. We must redouble our efforts to ensure belonging for all of Lovett’s students and develop the structures to hold ourselves accountable to this core value.
     
    With that in mind, I hope you will join me in a virtual platform as we begin to inform the steps we will take to ensure this important value applies to everyone in our community. We have ideas as to actions we intend to take, but we would like to hear from others as to ways Lovett can make positive change in support of our students. Our first two sessions will be this Tuesday, June 9 at 5:00 p.m. or Thursday, June 11 at 12:00 p.m. Please complete this Google form to sign-up for an invitation with login information. We will add additional sessions as needed.
     
    We don’t have all the answers, but we do know that words without action do not drive meaningful change. We will be broken as a community until all members feel that they are equally safe to respectfully express differences of faith, background and thought without fear of being devalued, targeted, ridiculed or suffering retribution. 
     
    We look forward to working together to take action to ensure that every child entrusted to us feels valued, heard, and a sense of belonging to The Lovett School.  
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Meredyth Cole
    Head of School
  • Lovett Statement Regarding Events of 06.07.20


    Black Lives Matter at the Lovett School. This past week, Lovett leadership has had conversations, whether virtual, on the phone or by email, with our faculty, staff, Upper and Middle School students, alumni and parents. This is just the first step in a journey to understand more and learn from the experiences of our Black community to develop an actionable plan to address racism. Lovett is aware of the Black Lives Matter student and alumni reflection time at Chattahoochee Park on Sunday.  While school leaders have concerns about large gatherings during a pandemic, they understand the urgent need to continue these conversations on the challenges Black students have faced in their time at Lovett. We are proud of the young graduates leading this effort and will continue to work with them to provide an intentionally inclusive, diverse and welcoming place to learn.
  • Meredyth Cole Message Read by Event Organizers 06.07.20

    I deeply regret not being with you all today, as I am out of town addressing a critical medical matter for an immediate family member. 

    To Kendall and Joshua, organizers of this gathering: Lovett is proud of you.

    Your vision and action in organizing this event represent the courage, integrity and commitment to injustice we hope for in our graduates. Your desire with today’s event is for it to help us grow as a school community. We will. 

    But we can’t have community without true belonging...where all members feel that they are equally safe to respectfully express differences of faith, background and thought without fear of being devalued, targeted, ridiculed or suffering retribution.

    This past week, I met with students, and they shared how they were feeling. Several commented that they were relieved that we were not in session at this time, as Lovett was not the place they turned for the understanding and emotional safety. This MUST change.

    To those here today who will share memories of painful experiences from your time at Lovett: I am deeply sorry and simultaneously grateful for your courage and honesty. My commitment to you is that your courage and pain will fuel the necessary growth and change we must make at Lovett. I am grateful that Lovett’s Board of Trustees, represented here today by Board Chair Reid French, shares that commitment.

    Black lives matter at The Lovett School
    We need to be the change you want to see.
    You have my word.

DEI Coordinators

List of 8 items.

 
 

DEI Board Committee

List of 9 items.

  • Brian Boutté (Co-Chair)

    Read More
  • Malon Courts (Co-Chair)

    Read More
  • Michael Hardee

    Read More
  • David Wall Rice

    Read More
  • Irma Shrivastava

    Read More
  • John Staton ’84

    Read More
  • Megan Apple Stephenson ’93

    Read More
  • Thaddeus Rolle ’04

    Read More
  • Vanessa Wilkins ’11

    Read More

Upcoming DEI Events

 
 
Copyright © 2020 Lovett School   |    Privacy Policy