Compassionate Leadership Through Diversity

By Dr. Kelly Moore, Director of Student Support Services

Microsoft Word - Poster_SDLR17.docxThis past weekend, nine students and three faculty chaperones attended the NWAIS Student Diversity Leadership Retreat. With the theme “Dig Deep and Branch Out,” we (along with 15 peer schools from Washington, Oregon, Utah and Idaho) met to discuss how to foster more compassionate and courageous leaders. Students were grouped in “family groups” that included members from the other schools—thus ensuring everyone was able to hear perspectives from various communities.

Highlights from the weekend included a screening of 13th—a documentary on racial inequality of the prison system in the United States. After the documentary, the school cafeteria transformed into a dimly lit café and students were asked to rotate around different tables to discuss prompts related to the film. Dr. Amer F. Ahmed, Director of Intercultural Teaching and Faculty Development at University of Massachusetts, spoke with us about Islamophobia and provided invaluable information about the Muslim religion while debunking many myths that exist about Islam. Finally, Chrissy Colon Bradt from Courage of Care led a session helping us see the value of compassion and the roadblocks in the way of becoming compassionate leaders – including the danger of a single story as presented in a Ted Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

At the end of a long Saturday and a night spent on a gym floor, the students were invigorated and poised for action. The faculty chaperones were deeply humbled by this next generation of change makers who truly want to make their communities more inclusive and equitable for all. Our hope is to build on this momentum and support these young leaders to take action, to educate, and to fulfill our EPS vision of making the world a better place through compassionate leadership (and a few other mission points ☺).