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Milton Academy’s newly formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Commission began their work a few months ago. Please see below for their most recent announcement.

We are pleased to write to you on behalf of Milton Academy’s newly formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Commission. This past spring, students and alumni shared stories about racial injustices and inequities experienced at Milton. In response, current and past Milton employees, students, and alumni have demanded change through letters, phone conversations, and social media posts.

We hear you and, with humility, we take our place beside you. With gratitude for your honesty and in line with your passionate call to action, we reach out today to those of you who have spoken out, and to our entire community, to introduce ourselves and open the lines of communication. We seek to partner with you for the betterment of the school community we hold so dear.

Who We Are
Milton’s DEI Commission is a group of alumni, staff, faculty, parents, and trustees committed to charting a new path for Milton’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice efforts. Our members’ association with Milton spans from one to 49 years. We are educators, social justice activists, entrepreneurs, political advocates, technology experts, and civil servants. We have come together under a common call, to help shape a bold future for Milton as a school at the forefront of equity and justice.

Our members:

  • Shirin Adhami, Nesto Gallery Director, Upper School Faculty, Student Studio Art Association Advisor
  • Rob Azeke ’87, Board of Trustees
  • Doug Chavez ’93
  • Vanessa Cohen Gibbons P ’22 ’24, Director of Equity, Head of Hathaway House, Onyx Advisor
  • Kurt Collins ’97
  • Eleanor “Tabi” Haller-Jorden ’75 P ’09, Board of Trustees
  • Mark Heath, Former Upper School Faculty, Class Dean, and Dorm Parent
  • Terri James Solomon, College Counselor and Muslim Student Association Advisor
  • Annie Jean-Baptiste ’06
  • Josh Jordan ’11, Lower School Communications, Upper School Dorm Parent
  • Amy Kirkcaldy, College Counselor and Co-facilitator of AWARE (Alliance of White Anti-Racist Educators)
  • Joshua Kronenberg, Middle School Faculty
  • Sharon Mathieu P ’19 ’21, Middle School Faculty
  • Tasha Otenti, Director of Services for International Students, Asian Affinity Advisor, Former Dorm Parent
  • Ronnell Wilson ’93, Board of Trustees
  • Sarah Wooten ’04, Former Admission Office Staff and Dorm Parent
  • Vivian Wu Wong P ’13 ’18, Upper School Faculty, Faculty Council Chair, Advisor to Asian Society and Asian Affinity
  • Donnaree Wynter Grant, Alumni and Development Office Staff

Our Mission
The mission of the DEI Commission is to lead Milton in building an antiracist and welcoming community of students, employees, families, and alumni that serves as a model for K–12 institutions. We seek to create a community that roots out inequity and commits to systemic changes that advance just outcomes for all of its members.

To fulfill this commitment, we will examine the leadership structures, procedures, policies, curricula, and programs from the largest scale to the smallest in all of Milton’s divisions and offices. We will work with experts, both external and internal to our community, to develop and implement clear action plans and accountability measures for individuals and for the school as a whole.

What You Will You See From Us
We are committed to transparency in our communication and accountability in our ongoing efforts. The DEI Commission will send regular updates to alumni, students, employees, and families, and we will host events to build community with you. We will provide detailed reports of campus-wide initiatives, including metrics that indicate successes, failures, and strategies for improvement.

The scope of our work is broad: We will focus on efforts across the school’s climate and culture; curriculum; alumni support and outreach; recruitment and admission; student, faculty, and staff retention; and accountability measures for leadership, faculty, and staff.

What’s Happening Now
We’re excited to update you on work that is underway—and assure you that we are only just getting started. Our efforts have been conducted in close collaboration with and have the full support of school leadership and the Board of Trustees. 

  • Improving recruitment strategies to increase the numbers of employees who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
  • Addition of diversity, equity, and inclusion competency evaluation to the annual review process for every Milton employee, beginning this year.
  • Restorative justice training for faculty in the Upper School.
  • The creation of a new role and advisory committee to address incidents of racism and bias, with a particular focus on reparative dialogue with our alumni community.
  • Full- and part-time roles created in the Upper School Office of Multiculturalism and Community Development to train and support students and adults; develop and oversee antiracist policies and programs in academics, athletics, residential life, co-curriculars, mental health, and wellness; and support international students and families.

We have partnered with two external consultants to help us undertake this work and initiate reporting. Diversity Directions will guide initiatives this fall, and conduct an in-depth K–12 assessment of policies, personnel, student outcomes, leadership, curriculum, and climate. A detailed report and set of recommendations will follow, outlining short-term actions to be implemented spring 2021—and longer-term actions for the 2021–22 school year and beyond.

We have also contracted with Sara Staats of AltshulerStaats LLC. Sara is a strategy consultant with extensive experience with independent schools, including project management work for Milton’s Coronavirus Task Force. She will oversee the implementation of K–12 DEI initiatives, and help us ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of these endeavors.

How You Can Get Involved
We welcome your questions, ideas, and concerns. You can email our full group at dei-commission@milton.edu, or reach out directly to Vanessa Cohen Gibbons at vanessa_gibbons@milton.edu.

We remain thankful for your feedback, and we deeply regret that members of our community have experienced racism at Milton. We are determined to change. Our priorities are core to our mission as an educational institution and as a community, and we must weave these priorities throughout every aspect of school life. We have also heard your urgent demands for antiracist action, and we believe that the future of our school depends on how we respond to this vital inflection point in history.

While the Commission’s charge is to drive this commitment forward, it will ultimately require the sustained commitment and effort of the entire community. This is not a quick fix, but a fundamental shift that will be felt for generations of Milton students.

In solidarity,

Milton Academy DEI Commission

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