A group of Upper Division students with teacher in a classroom

Looking Back at DEI Progress

As I sit down to write about the past academic year, my reflections are bookended by my New Employee Orientation experience. Last year, I sat in the library chairs as a new member of our Park community. This year, I co-organized the experience to welcome the newest employees to our Park community. 

At Park, we deeply value diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). It was Park’s long-standing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion that drew me to 171 Goddard. The cornerstone of Park’s program is academic excellence, affirming high standards of scholarship while encouraging each child to develop to their greatest potential. We know that students learn most effectively when they feel a deep sense of belonging, when they feel safe, known, and respected in their environment, and when they learn from the differences in backgrounds and perspectives shared within their learning community as curious critical thinkers. 

Similarly, we know that employees will be most impactful when they feel a deep sense of belonging in our community. In my first year at Park, as a participant in the hiring process for every role, I had the opportunity to interview all finalist candidates for open positions. Ensuring our incoming employees meet our expectations and institutional DEI values is one example of how Park is authentically living its values.

What feels paramount, from my perspective as Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, is the day-to-day lived experiences of the members of our community. I began last year with a key priority of getting to know the members of the Park community. I work closely with students, families, employees, alumni, trustees, and prospective community members. I began last year striving to build upon a strong foundation while also listening, watching, and observing the expressed emerging DEI needs of the community. In the fall, two DEI Liaisons joined the team to round out the office. Naomi Austin, Grade 2 Teacher, and Courtney Stanley, Kindergarten Assistant Teacher, worked with me regularly throughout the year to support DEI initiatives. 

In this year of transition amid ongoing pandemic management, we worked to reimagine Park’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Implementation Plan (DEIIP) to prioritize the ongoing work underway to more accurately reflect the day-to-day lived experience at Park. The DEIIP, established in 2020, is an active, living document, serving as an accountability measure as our DEI goals continue to move from aspiration to reality.  The DEIIP’s ongoing work stretches out over current and upcoming academic years. “Immediate,” “Rising,” and “Future” priorities are sequenced based on the priorities that demand the most urgent attention. Through this action-based plan, we strive to demonstrate our commitment through our leadership, curriculum, programs, practices, and in every aspect of our community and culture. Together, we will work to ensure that all members of the Park community—students, families, employees, alumni, and trustees—feel a deep sense of belonging. 

In the spring, a team of eight faculty and staff came together with the creation of the DEI Council. The Council, which further supports the work of the DEI Office, convened to collaborate on a focused project that supports our goal of institutionalizing cultural and heritage practices and observances at Park. Going forward, the DEI Council will operate in a year-long format, meeting regularly to advance Park’s goal of creating consistent institutional practices and policies related to Park’s DEI initiatives set forward in the DEIIP.

Over the course of the 2021–22 school year, the DEI Office worked closely with the Parents’ Association (PA) leadership and the DEI subcommittee of the PA, partnerships that are essential to moving our work forward. We continued to support the community’s learning and growth through SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) workshops for faculty and staff as well as parents and guardians. The Affinity & Working Groups ran for a second successful year, despite a mostly virtual format. BIPOC meet-up opportunities for both students and faculty and staff were launched and supported by the DEI Office, and student-driven Upper Division clubs, including ASAA (Asian Student Affinity Alliance) and GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance), operated with the support of Upper Division faculty. Partnership with the Development Office in the work of the Development Anti-Racism Task Force (DARTF) continued to build on its strong foundational year.  The DARTF reviews and examines all aspects of Park’s advancement program including volunteer recruitment, events, new parent cultivation, alumni relations, and stewardship to deepen inclusive practices. As the year came to a close, members of the Park community came together at Boston’s Pop-up Pride festival, to celebrate, support, and recognize the rich history of the LGBTQ+ community and liberation movement.

Among the new initiatives that excite me is the newly-formed Program Leadership Team (PLT) of which I am a member. I am energized by the opportunity to work alongside Lower Division Head Tina Fox, Director of Instructional Practice Pamela Penna, Upper Division Head Ken Rogers, and Head of School Scott Young as we collaborate to set institutional priorities and establish a pathway for programmatic change. This increased level of partnership across the School is already positively impacting the momentum of our DEI initiatives.

I am particularly grateful for the way in which the community came together on Giving Day in the spring, focused on raising funds for the The SPARK Match for Community & Belonging. Park more than doubled previous Giving Day totals, an unprecedented level of support. DEI is the work of the entire Park community, and on Giving Day, the community’s generosity underscored the value, priority, and commitment we place on this important collective work. The increased operational DEI budget these funds make possible will ensure that programming will continue to grow consistently over time. Already, plans are in place to bring esteemed consultant, educator, and activist Rosetta Lee to campus to facilitate a workshop for faculty and staff in January, and Park will deepen the partnership with the “Critical Conversations” speaker series out of the New Roads School in Santa Monica, California as a National Partner of the program. 

As we transition into a new academic year, key priorities include increasing DEI-related programming for students, and regular communication on the progress of DEI at Park—including updates on the impact of funds raised in the The SPARK Match for Community & Belonging. We will continue our work to make DEI aspirations a reality,  more closely mirroring the day-to-day lived experience of our community.

At Park, we strive to enact meaningful, transformational change that sustains over time. The 2022–2023 academic year is full of anticipation and excitement for all the possibilities ahead.


Alile Eldridge

Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion


Introducing the DEIIP Steering Committee

To help guide the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Implementation Plan, Park has created a Steering Committee to help support and monitor the DEI Implementation Plan and timeline, and support efforts to communicate progress. The Steering Committee is composed of members of the current campus community drawn from Park administration, faculty, staff, parents, and members of the Board of Trustees.

Introducing the DEIIP Steering Committee

Suzy Akin (Faculty/Staff Representative) joined Park in July 2020 as Director of Strategic Marketing & Communications, with over two decades working in independent school education as an administrator, English teacher, and advisor. The parent of two grown sons, she brings a deep commitment to nurturing a culture of inclusion and belonging within school communities, and to working together to grow beyond the perspectives that come naturally to us, as we learn to understand each other and the world around us in new ways.

Alile Eldridge (Steering Committee Co-Chair), Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, arrived at Park in the summer of 2021. DEI has been at the center of her 12-year career working in education. As an experienced DEI practitioner, Alile was drawn to Park for its demonstrated commitment to the whole child. DEI work is inextricably connected to academic excellence and social-emotional learning. The ability to lead this work, steeped in this foundational institutional belief, is both inspiring and energizing. Alile is committed to ensuring that all Park community members feel a deep sense of belonging.

May Hara (Board of Trustees DEI Subcommittee Co-Chair), parent of two current Park students, joined the Board of Trustees in 2020 and serves as a Co-Chair of the Board's DEI Committee. She has over twenty years experience in public K-12 and higher education with a particular focus on educational policy. She hopes to contribute to Park's efforts to examine values, policies, and practices towards being a fully inclusive school community for all students and families. May lives in Jamaica Plain with her family.

Doreen Ho (PA Vice President), along with her husband, Mike Sze, are parents of two current Park students and one alumna. A child of Hong Kong immigrants, Doreen has been committed to the initiatives of DEI work for many years, with prior experience explicitly addressing DEI goals in residency training and recruitment as a program director. She is also very passionate about the Park PA and parent/guardian community — particularly in continuing to nurture a broad and inclusive environment where every contribution matters.

Naomi Joseph (Faculty/Staff Representative)  is in her second year at Park and serves as a Grade 2 teacher and DEI Liaison. She joins the committee with six years of experience and a wide lens of DEI work from a variety of school settings. As a first-generation American and an educator of color, Naomi's experiences as a student fuel her commitment to advancing antiracist work within education, and specifically within the Park community. By evaluating the processes and experiences we create for our students, she hopes to provide an equitable and reaffirming experience for students and families.

Rebecca Nordhaus (Board of Trustees DEI Subcommittee Co-Chair), parent of two current Park students and one alumna, joined the Board of Trustees in 2017, and serves as a Co-Chair of the Board’s DEI Committee. Rebecca and her husband live in Brookline with their three daughters, two dogs and a guinea pig. She notes, “The data are clear that educational excellence requires that all students experience equity and a strong sense of belonging. Park’s DEI Implementation Plan is a critical step to creating a fully inclusive community where all students thrive.” Rebecca hopes to encourage engagement with the DEI conversation among all members of the Park community.

Cheryl Rosenberg (PA Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee Co-Chair), parent of a current Park student and an alum, has been a member of the Park community since 2012. As a woman of color, second-generation immigrant, and parent of multiracial children, Cheryl is deeply invested in furthering equity and inclusion at Park and beyond. From actively volunteering at Park and the PA, to leading a community mutual-aid group, to her professional work designing interiors that inspire well-being and belonging, she seeks ways to interrupt the many ways racism and systemic inequity show up in daily life.

Scott Young (Steering Committee Co-Chair), Head of School, arrived at Park in the summer of 2018, and is the parent of a current Park Kindergarten student. During his 22 years as an educator, diversity, equity, and inclusion have been central themes in his work. Park’s reputation and commitment to excellence in this area was one of the many attributes that drew him to Park. The critical work defined by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Implementation plan is central to his work as Head of School, and he is grateful for the partnership of all who share in this commitment.