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Dalton Hosts Successful 9th Diversity Conference Focusing on Implicit Bias

More than 400 people from 30 New York City independent schools gathered at Dalton on April 27 for the 9th Annual From Diversity to Community conference focusing on implicit bias. Attendees came from far and wide, including two schools from Virginia, one from New Jersey, Maryland, and Canada. Three local schools new to the conference were The Birch Wathen Lenox School, The Hackley School, and Saint Ann’s School.
Goals for the day were to gain awareness of implicit bias, understand its omnipresence, and recognize how it manifests in our daily lives; become more empathetic when hearing and seeing implicit bias; gain confidence, learn strategies to address implicit bias and create action plans when attendees return to their schools.

In his welcome remarks, Head of School Jim Best posed the following question: "Why are we spending a day on implicit bias — 'attitudes and stereotypes that are not directly and introspectively accessible'—when we're surrounded by explicit bias— 'attitudes and stereotypes that are introspectively and plainly accessible'?" He explained that, "Implicit and explicit bias belong to the same ecosystem." And that "by focusing on one part, we train ourselves to see other parts more clearly.' "We have to do this work together...with the goal of finding ways to apply it in our lives, our schools, and our communities. If we want to be leaders—as individuals and institutions—we need to think and act rigorously and compassionately."

In a dynamic, compelling keynote address Jerry Kang -- Professor of Law at UCLA’s School of Law and UCLA’s inaugural Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion -- employed data and humor to deftly convey the often stealthy role that implicit bias plays in everyday life. He said that his mission is to build equity for all, and he made a persuasive case for the necessity of addressing implicit bias at individual schools.
In the morning breakout sessions, organized by constituency (i.e., administrators, alumni, diversity practitioners, faculty, parents, students, trustees), participants explored challenges and effective practices, and shared a range of perspectives. At the afternoon student panel -- always illuminating -- candid middle and high schoolers shared their personal stories. Colleagues then convened in individual School PODs to craft workable strategies and action plans addressing implicit bias at their own schools.

Thank you to the 60 plus people who worked to put this comprehensive day together—faculty and parents, students and trustees, staff and graduates. Very special thanks to the conference planning committee: Casper Caldarola '77 P'14 (founder & executive director, Pollyanna), Josh Bachrach P'29, P'31, Juliet Baker '10, Kathy Chan P'11, P'13, Ryan Ewers '02, Claire Hannan-Radomisli P'18, P'22, P'21, Amy Hikida P'18, Emily Kasof, Ayesha Long, Eri Noguchi P'20, Monique Vogelsang, and Lisa Waller P'17, P'21.

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