Transformation doesn’t happen overnight, and when it comes to transforming the way we support schools and districts, we certainly can’t go about it alone. That is why last week, we brought together members of the provider network community for the first time, centered on transforming how we collaborate with and learn from one another as professionals.
Throughout the convening, we welcomed inspiring experts such as Dr. Beverly Tatum, education leader and bestselling author of several books, including Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?. We also featured a thought-provoking panel with Frances Messano (President, NewSchools Venture Fund), Joy Diaz (parent advocate), Mamta Accapadi (Vice Provost for University Life, UPenn), and Ryan Stewart (former Secretary of Education, New Mexico) sharing their perspectives on the challenges and opportunities ahead for the sector.
While the convening was jam-packed with lightbulb moments, here are a few highlights from Day 1:
- The opening keynote featuring Dr. Tatum, moderated by Tre Johnson, partner of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Catalyst:Ed, started with a conversation around cultural wars and the “collective tension” between those willing to deepen their understanding of race and racism and their historical implications and those who reject it. This led to a discussion on what healthy accountability looks like and how the discomfort stemming from the current debate around critical race theory (CRT) might be signs of empathy and what Dr. Tatum calls “evidence of progress.”
Hope is discipline. You have to cultivate hope all the time. It’s important to always look for evidence of progress.
-Dr. Beverly Tatum
- There was an apparent through-line of addressing white supremacy in our work and interactions with colleagues and clients in the first sessions. In “Centering Humanity: Disrupting White Supremacy Culture in Business,” Rachel Vincente facilitated a conversation about building a shared language around how to talk about white supremacy culture shows up and moving towards implementing anti-racism practices. The team at Third Plateau hosted “Values-Driven Leadership: Aligning Culture & Strategy to Drive Impact’ and touched on how to make core values useful, what it looks like for these values to manifest in people, and evaluating if they get your organization to its desired outcome.
- Later in the day, we hosted a set of provider panel conversations. The first, titled “Growing Your Impact as a Provider of Color,” featured Rhonda Broussard, Allen Square, and Ron Rapatalo. Facilitator Toni White questioned the panel about their “why,” lessons learned that they want to pass on to others, and how they could grow their businesses while honoring their communities and backgrounds. In “To Grow or Not to Grow,” Mindelyn Anderson, Ph.D., and Bernardo M. Ferdman, Ph.D., talked with facilitator Rasheeda Washington about a variety of business topics and equitable practices, including subcontracting, communication systems and tools, and models of pay that help you scale your impact.
On our second day together, we kicked things off with an optional dance party or People of Color meetup. Here are more highlights as the day went on:
- The day’s keynote panel, “Braving the Storm: Rebuilding During a Time of Continued Uncertainty,” was a conversation with Frances Messano, President of NewSchools Venture Fund; Joy Diaz, parent advocate and candidate for Governor of Texas; Mamta Accapadi, Vice Provost for University Life, UPenn; Ryan Stewart, former Superintendent of Education for the state of New Mexico. Moderator and Catalyst:Ed Founder and CEO Leona Christy asked the panel to share what they’re seeing and feeling from their vantage points in the education sector, where they would put their innovation funds, and what’s needed to make systemic changes.
From chaos comes creation. I think we’re learning from the wisdom of our young people and centering the wisdom of historically underserved people to co-create the world we want to leave in.
- In “Embrace Your Strengths and Harness Them for a Powerful and Joyful Future,” Rayne Martin facilitated a conversation around acknowledging and embracing your strengths and how that practice helps with higher productivity and profitability in business.
- Facilitator Elana Feinberg hosted a transparent discussion in “Sexism in Entrepreneurship.” She gave tips and best practices on subjects such as getting paid on time and the importance of collaboration over competition when working with other women professionals.
- Facilitator pair Avni Gupta-Kagan and Emily Murphy presented “Pairing Up: How Finding a Partner Can Revitalize Your Why.” They discussed navigating work and life together as business partners and took questions on managing expectations about deliverables, navigating ownership from ideas, and strategies for growth.
- “Circling Back” to YOU: Planning to Support Your Well-Being as a Consultant,” led by facilitator Sydney Kastner was about planning for supporting mental health at work as a consultant. In the session, Kastner shared three elements for workplace well-being and structures and routines to support wellness.
[I appreciated the] very intentional focus on collaborative learning and actions that we can take outside of the sessions.
This is just the beginning. We look forward to growing and strengthening our provider network. Follow this link to learn more about the network and how to refer a new provider.