For Crossroads staff members Rosanna Llorens, Jasmin McCloud and Amy Walia-Fazio, the annual People of Color Conference (PoCC) is not to be missed. In early December, the respective associate dean of college counseling; Middle and Upper School counselor; and director of secondary admission traveled to Seattle to present at the four-day conference organized by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). This year, the theme was “1619. 2019. Before. Beyond. Amplifying Our Intelligence to Liberate, Co-Create, and Thrive.”
Fittingly, Rosanna, Jasmin and Amy’s presentation—entitled “Mentorship: Taking Matters into Our Own Hands”—focused on, in Rosanna’s summation, “thriving where you are.” Rather than describe mentorship simply in terms of career progression, they discussed the importance of mentorship in enabling people of color to succeed day-to-day in an independent school environment.
They also offered strategies for attendees to implement and sustain both formal and informal guidance networks at their own schools and beyond. A mentorship program is most effective when, as Amy explains, “it acknowledges that experiences that women of color hold are unique.”
PoCC, which Crossroads employees have been participating in for over 20 years, is just one of the important resources for building networks between people of color at independent schools. Amy has attended the conference eight times, while Rosanna has attended five and Jasmin three. In addition to workshops, seminars, dialogue sessions and affinity group meetings, the conference presents esteemed keynote speakers. The 2019 lineup included scholar Joy DeGruy, civil rights activist and filmmaker Valarie Kaur and sociologist Pedro Noguera. Six Crossroads students also traveled to Seattle to attend the concurrent NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference
“PoCC is super affirming, and I feel very seen at this conference,” shares Jasmin. “It’s a space you can go into that is independent school-based and have a dominant presence. And that feels really good.”
Rosanna, Jasmin and Amy plan to continue their conversation on mentorship at next year’s conference.
“We managed to find something that people didn’t know they needed, or that is needed and not being covered,” Rosanna asserts.
Amy agrees: “We can’t let that ember burn out.”