In-Person Conference Experience





Purpose, Belonging, and Authenticity: Connecting Self, Students, and School Communities


For: All Educators


Friday, April 28, 2023
8:30 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.


Hosted by:

The Lawrenceville School
2500 Main Street
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648


This experience has ended.  Thank you to those who contributed to this day of purposeful learning and growth.


Program registrants will receive a copy of Ruha Benjamin's newest book, Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want, also the title of her closing keynote session featured as a part of this experience.







Program Sessions Include:

Creating Authentic Space: Purposeful Reflection for Strategic Action

Facilitated by Jen Cort, Consultant, and Rodney Glasgow, Head of School at Sandy Spring Friends School and President/Founder of The Glasgow Group

Educators who promote a sense of belonging on their campuses bring their full authentic selves to their work. At the same time, we must recognize and appreciate the mistakes, the learning, the growth that has shaped our own identities and mindsets.  And we must allow for the same mistake-making, learning, and growth in others.  Considering all that you've learned this year through professional development and lived experiences, what are the actions you can take for yourself and others to deepen your own practices in diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging? This interactive session will ask participants to engage in purposeful reflection in order to create a strategic and actionable pathway forward for themselves, for their students, and for their school communities.

Dr. Rodney Glasgow is a noted educator, speaker, facilitator, trainer, and activist in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. He has given several keynote presentations, delivered workshops, and offered consultation to schools and organizations nationwide. He is a graduate of Harvard University with a joint degree in Afro-American Studies and Psychology, holds a Master of Arts in Organization and Leadership from Columbia University, and a Doctorate of Education in Human and Organizational Learning From The George Washington University. An independent school alumnus, having graduated from Gilman School in his hometown of Baltimore, MD, he is one of the founding members, and now Chair of, the National Association of Independent School’s annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference, a 25-year-old training ground drawing over 1600 high school students nationwide. Dr. Glasgow is a featured writer in the book Diversity in Independent Schools, and also wrote the prologue for One Teacher in Ten in the New Millennium: LGBT Educators Speak Out About What’s Gotten Better And What Hasn’t. Dr. Glasgow was honored to receive the 2008 People of Courage Award from the City of Worcester. In 2014, he launched the National Diversity Practitioners Institute, an intensive summer program that is now a highly respected training ground for school leaders. Dr. Glasgow is currently an advisory board member for the Family Diversity Projects, Inc. and Chair of the Diversity and Education Committee of the Board of Trustees for Sheridan School in Washington, DC. With Nearly 20 years of experience as an educator and administrator for students and faculty in grades Kindergarten through post-graduate, he is currently the Head of School at Sandy Spring Friends School (MD).

Jen Cort's career blends her experience as a clinical social worker and educator.  Her educational administrative experiences are as an Assistant Head of Lower School, Head of a Middle School, and senior administrator.  Jen's therapy background includes serving as a counselor in Lower, Middle and Upper Schools as well as private practice.  Jen went into consulting after seeing a need for supporting schools to live out their missions regarding diversity and inclusion such that students can be seen and heard while learning to be visible and use their voices in productive ways.  Jen Cort speaks at national conferences including NAIS, POCC, National Small Schools Conference, and Association of Middle Level Educators.  She is published online and in journals including NAIS, Racing Toward Diversity, and Raising Race Conscious Children.  Jen works with schools around the United States and in Canada and is the host of a podcast, Third Space, providing diversity education by leading experts.


Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want

Presented by Ruha Benjamin, Professor, Department of African American Studies, Director of Graduate Affairs (DGA) at Princeton University

“All that you touch / You Change. / All that you Change / Changes you.” 
- Octavia Butler

This session will highlight the key components of Ruha Benjamin’s latest book, Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want, offering a practical and principled approach to transforming our communities and helping us build a more just and joyful world.

Ruha Benjamin specializes in the interdisciplinary study of science, medicine, and technology with a focus on the relationship between innovation and social inequity. She is author of Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want (Princeton University Press 2022),  Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code  (Polity 2019), People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier (Stanford University Press 2013), and editor of Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life  (Duke University Press 2019), as well as numerous articles and book chapters. Professor Benjamin received her BA in sociology and anthropology from Spelman College, MA and PhD in sociology from UC Berkeley, and completed postdoctoral fellowships at UCLA’s Institute for Society and Genetics and Harvard University’s Science, Technology, and Society Program. She has been awarded fellowships and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine,  and Institute for Advanced Study. In 2017, she received the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton and, in 2020, the Marguerite Casey Foundation Inaugural Freedom Scholar Award.


The Hutchins Institute for Social Justice: A Case Study for Social Justice in Secondary Education

Presented by Zaheer Ali, Executive Director of the Hutchins Center for Race and Social Justice at The Lawrenceville School

In 2020, as independent schools around the country mobilized to respond to the growing national conversation about racial justice and equity on their campuses, The Lawrenceville School made a bold decision to go beyond conventional diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives by establishing a center for race and social justice. The Hutchins Institute for Social Justice, as it is now known, represents a new model for teaching histories and implementing principles of social justice in secondary education. Like its university counterparts, the Hutchins Institute is a multidisciplinary academic hub supporting faculty and student research, programming, and experiential and project-based learning about social justice as a subject of inquiry, a method of analysis, and a set of ethical practices. This session will present the Hutchins Institute for Social Justice at The Lawrenceville School as a case study for innovative approaches to equity, inclusion, and justice at independent schools. Included in the presentation will be the reasons for the Institute’s effectiveness—including its positioning within the institution relative to other departments and offices, the dedication of resources and personnel, and its academic grounding. Also included will be some of the caveats for institutions seeking to adopt this model, including the need for such a center to operate interdependently with existing leadership structures, residential programming, and administrative protocols. The session will conclude with practical steps peer institutions can take toward establishing similar initiatives at their schools.

Zaheer Ali is the inaugural executive director of The Lawrenceville School’s Hutchins Center for Race and Social Justice. Ali is an educator and humanities professional with more than a decade of experience directing nationally recognized public history and cultural heritage initiatives, including program oversight and evaluation, institutional fundraising, budget management, community engagement, collections access, and public programming. Having trained in African American studies under Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at Harvard and worked at Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) under Manning Marable, Ali also brings experiential knowledge in launching and directing social justice-oriented research initiatives that serve students, faculty, and the wider community.  Ali was the Project Manager of Columbia University’s Malcolm X Project, and his oral history interviews informed Marable’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.” As Oral Historian at Brooklyn Historical Society (now the Center for Brooklyn History), he directed Muslims in Brooklyn, a public history and arts initiative that inspired a critically acclaimed exhibition and a viral video on the Muslim bean pie for’s “Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?” The Muslims in Brooklyn website received a 2021 Special Jury Social Justice prize from the GLAMi (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums Innovation) Awards and a 2021 MUSE Award from the American Alliance of Museums. Ali has been a Senior Fellow of the Pillars Fund Muslim Narrative Change Cohort and is a recipient of the Open Society Foundation’s Soros Equality Fellowship for his work on leveraging the power of storytelling and listening for social change. He has written for both scholarly and general publics, and has been a featured narrator in several documentaries, including CNN’s “Witnessed: The Assassination of Malcolm X,” and Netflix’s “Who Killed Malcolm X?” and “Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali.” In addition, he serves as an executive producer of “American Muslims: A History Revealed,” a National Endowment for the Humanities-funded digital film series and feature-length broadcast documentary currently in production. Ali has taught for over a decade as an adjunct lecturer at New York University, including courses on United States history, Malcolm X, and Prince Rogers Nelson. He holds a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in Afro-American Studies from Harvard University, and both master of arts and master of philosophy degrees in history from Columbia University.


Elevating Our Worth, Agency, and Excellence Through Resilience Practices: Cultivating Community During Time of Turbulence

Presented by Dr. Gene Batiste, Assistant Head of School for Engagement at The Dwight-Englewood School

Daily, as educators and leaders in independent schools, we have to constantly prove our value. Now, more than ever before, circumstances in our schools and society require us to physically, emotionally, and spiritually confront and negotiate challenges and expectations, let alone our value, worth, and excellence as leaders in our school communities and organizations. This workshop explores the poignancy of master status and resiliency as existential concepts in order to understand and attack threats to our sense of worth, agency, and excellence as leaders utilizing Southwick’s and Charney’s (2018) ten step resilience framework for building and strengthening our sense of agency. Join us as we co-create a community, strategies, and urgency to enact the resilience we need to bring our full selves to our leadership in independent schools.

Dr. Gene Batiste serves as the Assistant Head of School for Engagement at The Dwight-Englewood School (NJ). He also has a thriving consultancy specializing in engagement, DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging), leadership, and organizational development in independent schools, higher education, and nonprofits. From  2017 to 2021, Gene served as the Chief Diversity Officer at St. John’s School (TX) following two years of full-time consultancy and leadership coaching based in Washington, D.C. From 2013 to 2015, Gene served as Executive Director at Independent Education (IE), now the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (AISGW). In this role, he led a team that provided professional development, networking, advocacy, and other services to a diverse community of 70+ independent schools serving 33,000 students in the Washington, D.C. capital region. From 2000 to 2013, Gene served as Vice President for Professional Development and School Field Services & Equity and Justice Initiatives at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). He served as Assistant Head of School and Upper School Director at Crossroad School in St. Louis, Missouri. Gene was a member of the faculty, grade-level dean, Director of Multicultural  Initiatives, and Director of the Dennard Visiting Scholars program at St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas from 1990 to 1999. He served on the faculty of three high schools in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) from 1981 to 1989, including Social  Science Department Chair at Hillcrest High School. In 1989, Dr. Batiste received DISD’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Dr. Batiste holds a B.S. degree in the social sciences, summa cum laude, from Wiley College, (a historically Black College/University) an M.Ed. degree, Phi Delta Kappa, in urban education and public school administration from North Texas State University, and an Ed.D. degree in educational and organization leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Batiste’s dissertation study was titled, Toward an Understanding of the Role of Relational Trust for New Heads of Independent Schools.


Awakening and Reconciling Our Truths

Presented by Paris McLean, Assistant Head of School for Diversity, Inclusion, and Antiracism (DIAR);  Shanie Israel, Associate Director of Curriculum, Professional Development, and Multicultural Innovation; and Steve Valentine, Assistant Head of the Upper School and Director of Academic Leadership at Montclair Kimberley Academy

This session will share an experience from the 2022 Educator Convening hosted by the Equal Justice Initiative.  This convening highlighted the need for individuals, school communities, and our country as a whole to confront the truths that might hold shame as they haunt and prevent change. Participants will engage in an exercise about the truths they don't confront in themselves, their students, their peers, and their schools so that they might activate and inspire change - in themselves, their students, their peers, and their school communities.

Paris McLean has been an independent school educator and leader for 19 years. He has served as a 2nd Grade Lead Teacher, curriculum coordinator, multicultural diversity team chair, and head varsity basketball coach at his alma mater, the Princeton Day School (NJ). He then served as the Head of Lower School and the Assistant Head of School (Head of the Lower and Middle School) at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart (NJ). Paris is a graduate of LaSalle University (B.A.; Elementary and Special Education), The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College Columbia University (Ed.M.; Private School Leadership), and most recently, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Aspiring Heads Institute. Paris has presented at state, national, and international conferences focusing on social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion within school structures. He is also a faculty member within the Canadian Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Summer Leadership Institute (LI), where his educational focus is on themes of pluralism within school communities.

Shanie Israel is the Associate Director of Curriculum, Professional Development, and Multicultural Innovation at Montclair Kimberley Academy. Prior to this position, Shanie has also served as Director of Social Emotional Learning, a Grade Dean, English teacher and Diversity Coordinator at MKA. Before joining Independent Schools, Israel worked for eight years in the New York City Department of Education as a middle school English teacher and represented the staff as the chapter leader for the United Federation of Teachers. Israel received a B.S. and an M. Ed from Ohio Universit. A member of the Civil and Human Rights Commission of Bloomfield, NJ, Shanie enjoys seeing Broadway shows, hiking in National Parks, writing, listening to music, practicing yoga, and spending time with her family.

Steve Valentine is the Assistant Head of Upper School, a position he has held since 2008, and the Director of Academic Leadership, Pre-K - 12. Previously, he served as English Department Chair and Grade Level Chair, having taught in the English department from 2002 to the present. Prior to joining MKA, Steve taught Upper School English at Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and was a teacher and administrator in the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Steve writes and publishes frequently and is a sought after public speaker and adviser to new companies. Over the past decade, he has published a trilogy of books for people interested in education, leadership, and professional growth. "Everything but Teaching" has proven to be especially helpful for early career teachers. "Blending Leadership" has found an audience among school leaders (both aspiring and established) interested in exploring a modern approach to leadership, branding, and networked organizations. "Make Yourself Clear" has served a more varied readership: everyone from school leaders, seasoned teachers, and business executives to camp counselors, lawyers, and trustees. It is a book about the ways we can apply a teaching mindset to work of all kinds, not just the work some of us do in schools. Steve runs workshops across a variety of domains, writes a column for EdSurge, and serves as Managing Editor of Klingbrief, a publication for the Klingenstein Center at Columbia's Teachers College.

Confront Saviorism and Bias Using The Empathy, Equality, Entrepreneurship Model (TEEEM)

Presented by Taylor DeMaio, Vice President of TEEEM

This session will focus on how to confront bias and saviorism through the introduction of TEEEM (The Empathy, Equality, Entrepreneurship Mission), a local non-profit organization that teaches students about global issues and humanitarianism through empathy and entrepreneurship. TEEEM fulfills this mission by connecting New Jersey high school students with various humanitarian organizations around the world. In conjunction with learning how to comprehend and tackle global issues, these partnerships cultivate meaningful, rewarding experiences for students as they make a real impact on the world

Taylor DeMaio became the Vice President of TEEEM nearly two years ago. Prior to joining TEEEM, she was a high school teacher for eight years, where she taught all levels of English, as well as Broadcast Journalism and Public Speaking. She then transitioned out of the classroom and into higher education, where she became a Graduate Program Coordinator at Duke University. Upon moving back to New Jersey, Taylor began working at TEEEM and hasn't looked back. While she misses being in the classroom, she is still very connected to students and teachers through TEEEM. On a personal level, Taylor enjoys reading, hiking, playing with her new puppy, Dakota, and traveling any chance she can get.


Authentic Space for Middle School Voices: Middle School Equity & Inclusion Leadership Summit

Presented by the Gill St. Bernard's DEIC Team: Tracey Goodson Barrett, Candace Pryor Brown, Montana Vasquez-Grinnell, Cendahl Cornellio-Alter, Camille Bonds

How do you change the world? One person at a time. For the past three years, Gill St. Bernard’s School has hosted an annual equity and inclusion summit for middle school students. “The Journey - Student Leaders Creating Space to Explore Identity, Belonging & Community” engages 7th and 8th grade students to develop leadership skills that are reflective, collaborative, and generative. Through presentations, group activities, and thoughtful discussions, students become equipped with the knowledge and resources to be change agents in their school community.  Students leverage this experience as a trampoline, providing them with a bounce as they return to their school communities feeling empowered as leaders.




This experience is made possible by the generosity of our sponsor:


ConnectOne Bank
301 Sylvan Avenue
Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632

Contact Person: Mark Cardone, First Senior Vice President:, 908-206-2860

ConnectOne Bank serves the financial needs of independent K-12 educational institutions in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and beyond. Recognized for outstanding client services and accessibility to decision-makers, ConnectOne Bank offers creative solutions including cash management services that typically reduce/eliminate bank service fees while increasing interest income on operating balances, school campus renovation and expansion financing (both taxable & tax-exempt) and a Bank-donation Affinity Program.




Contact: Glenn Bellomy,

WithumSmith + Brown's team of professionals has been serving the non-profit and educational services communities on a local, national, and international level for 40 years. We provide traditional audit, accounting, and tax services as well as value-added consulting services to our clients.