BY BRENNA DAVIS | July 6, 2021
The Jesuit Schools Network (JSN) held a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Cohort Gathering from June 22-25 in Cleveland, OH, hosting over 75 participants from Jesuit high schools along with staff from Jesuit provinces and the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Originally scheduled for March 2020 in Chicago, the conference was postponed due to the pandemic. This was the first in-person JSN gathering since the pandemic began, and DEI practitioners were energized to be able to connect in person after a year of primarily online communication.
Along with the planning committee, newly appointed executive director of the Jesuit Schools Network, Fr. Bob Reiser, S.J., provided opening remarks, an introduction to the theme—Planning for Diversity and Change—and context setting during the first evening of the conference. The first full day of the conference began with a presentation by Kitty Hooper from St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago about the findings from the DEI Practitioners Survey conducted by the Jesuit Schools Network.
Throughout the four day conference, participants attended large scale presentations by Dr. Jane Bleasdale from the University of San Francisco and Annie Fox from the Jesuits West Province, engaged in small-scale breakout sessions to share best practices, and were able to visit two local schools, Saint Martin de Porres High School: Cleveland’s Cristo Rey High School and St. Ignatius High School. Additionally, each day of the conference featured an Examen focused around the question “What are we called to do?”
The final session of the conference provided time for schools to break out by province in order to make action plans around next steps for DEI practitioners. In the Midwest Province breakout, discussion focused on how to continue collaboration and support between schools while also generating continued support for DEI work at individual high schools.
One of the key tools mentioned was the newly revised Domain 5. In the past month, JSN released revisions to the document Our Way of Proceeding: Standards and Benchmarks for Jesuit Schools in the 21st Century by adding additional benchmarks to Domain 5: Faith that Lives Justice. Specifically, Benchmark 13 was updated to focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts at Jesuit secondary schools. This document is used as a guide for review of sponsorship for Jesuit schools that occurs every six years, and DEI practitioners were encouraged to engage in conversation with their administrators about how the new benchmarks would be assessed and implemented on their campuses to live out the mission of Jesuit education.
The planning committee for the event included Jamal Adams (Loyola High School, Los Angeles), Donna Andrade (Fairfield College Preparatory School), Sue Baber (Associate Provincial Assistant for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education, Jesuits East Province), Iliana Brown (JSN Conference Office), Kitty Hooper (St. Ignatius College Prep, Chicago), Saj Kabadi (Regis Jesuit High School, Denver), Fr. Bob Reiser, S.J. (JSN Conference Office), Tom Noonan (JSN Conference Office), Denburk Reid (Loyola High School, Montreal, Canada), and Roger Stewart (JSN Board Member, St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland).
Brenna Davis is director of Education for Justice and environmental initiatives for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. She graduated from Boston College in 2010 and served in Cleveland as a Jesuit Volunteer. She previously taught theology, coached cross country, and served as main office coordinator at Saint Martin de Porres, Cleveland’s Cristo Rey High School. During her time there she was the self-proclaimed assistant to the director of facilities in all sustainability initiatives on campus. She is a certified spiritual director and a Cuyahoga County Master Recycler.