Accelerating the Work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, and Belonging

Taft’s Dean of Community, Justice, and Belonging Thomas Allen recently attended the TABS DEI Leadership Lab in Montgomery, Alabama.

The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) is a “community of communities”—a space and resource for boarding school leaders to share, learn, and support one another, while connecting their communities and creating sustainable relationships, common understandings, and open dialogue. TABS programming, resources, and opportunity drive “excellence, innovation, and collaboration so that every student thrives.” Recently, TABS hosted a DEI Leadership Lab in Montgomery, Alabama. Taft’s Dean of Community, Justice, and Belonging Thomas Allen was among the attendees.

“It was a great experience connecting with other DEI practitioners from around the world,” says Allen. “It was an opportunity to engage in meaningful and invaluable discussions around diversity, equity, and belonging in our various schools.”

Billed as a “transformative, immersive two-day journey,” to empower change through inclusive leadership, the Lab was built around an exploration of the history of racial injustice and deepening understanding, developing strategies, and identifying tools for growing and supporting more inclusive school communities. Each of those objectives was supported and enhanced though work done by attendees at Montgomery’s Legacy Museum and Legacy Memorial.

“The location of the conference provided us with a greater sense of self and allowed for us to connect with one another in a much more meaningful way,” notes Allen. “We learned more about the history of slavery in America through our visits to the Legacy Museum sites, and to consider difficult topics, including lynching, mass incarceration, and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.”

A highlight of the program, says Allen, was the opportunity to spend time with lawyer and NYU law professor, social justice activist, and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson. Stevenson’s work challenges bias against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system; his story was told in the 2019 film, Just Mercy. He has assisted in cases that have saved dozens of prisoners from the death penalty, advocated for the poor, and developed community-based reform litigation aimed at improving the administration of criminal justice. Stevenson encouraged all of the program attendees to remain focused and driven in the important work of advancing equity, inclusivity and belonging in their school communities.


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