Commission on Diversity in Independent Schools

The CAIS Commission on Diversity in Independent Schools exists to inspire a wide spectrum of individuals in the effort to make our school communities rich in the experience of human differences. The Commission will provide an educators'' network focused on diversity, as well as training and resources for diversity advocates at CAIS member schools. It will also provide on-going support for trustees, administrators, teachers, staff, students, families and other CAIS commissions.

CONNECTICUT STUDENT DIVERSITY LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE (CT-SDLC)

Commission Members
Shanelle Henry, Co-chair (Greens Farms Academy)
Susan Martell Jenkin, Co-chair (Miss Porter's School)
 
Chrissy Colon Bradt (Greenwich Country Day School)
Elisa Del Valle Cardona (The Ethel Walker School)
Kojo Clarke (New Canaan Country School)
Rebecca Flores Harper (Hopkins School)
Jillian Forgue (Pomfret School)
Dr. Rachel Myers (Choate Rosemary Hall)
Jacqueline Nelson (St. Luke's School)
Andrew Prince (Taft School)
Mary Taylor-Lewis (Westover School)
Rick Branson (CAIS Liaison)

 
About the Commissioners  

Chrissy Colon Bradt - Greenwich Country Day School
Chrissy is the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Greenwich Country Day School. She holds an undergraduate degree in Comparative Ethnic Studies from Barnard College and completed her graduate work at CUNY: Hunter College in Special Education with a focus on Behavioral Disorders. Chrissy has worked as an independent school educator for the past 14 years.  In her various roles Chrissy has focused on supporting students in exploring identity and the ways in which various identities shape American society.  Chrissy supports students in developing the tools to apply a critical social analysis to their understanding of history and present day. As part of an effort to bolster students’ resilience and courage to engage with difficult social issues Chrissy sought out mindfulness and compassion training programs for students. She became the lead contributor to the Call to Care program, part of the Ethics, Education and Human Development initiative - a global initiative to design a framework and pedagogy for compassion and care in k - 12 schools.  Chrissy went on to support the founding of a non-profit dedicated to building a more compassionate and inclusive world - The Courage of Care Foundation. Here Chrissy served as program director, leading and designing trainings for educators and activists.
Chrissy continues to serve in her role as an advocate to students and teachers, as a support to re-envision curricula and to create truly inclusive spaces for all.  She joins CODIS eager to foster meaningful connections, engage with others around topics relating to equity and to support the community at large in developing the skills to disrupt inequity and build a more compassionate and inclusive world.

Elisa Del Valle Cardona - The Ethel Walker School
Elisa Del Valle Cardona, a native of Brooklyn, NY, has lived in Connecticut for eight years. Prior to joining Walker’s in fall 2016, she worked as the director of student activities and leadership development/new student orientation at Wesleyan University. Elisa’s deep-rooted interest in women’s education is what brings her to Walker’s. Elisa attended an all-girls high school in New York City before attending Smith College in Northampton, MA where she majored in Government and minored in Spanish. While working at Mount Holyoke College, Elisa attended graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where she graduated with a Master’s in Social Justice Education.
Kojo is currently the Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at New Canaan Country School. In his role he works closely with the academic leaders of the school and oversees programming and professional development, while collaborating on curriculum. He is also a member of the school’s Leadership Team and works with the Parents’ Association and the Board of Trustees in all diversity, equity & inclusion initiatives, leading the community toward the goal of developing culturally competent students and adults and of a truly inclusive environment.  Kojo completed his undergraduate degree at Franklin & Marshall College, where he double-majored in French and Psychology. He holds a Masters in Education from Northwestern University’s School of Education & Social Policy. Kojo joined Country School in 2019, having previously worked at Choate Rosemary Hall as a French Teacher, an advisor to student multicultural efforts, a member of the diversity committee, and a leader of faculty and staff diversity and equity work. Kojo is a trained SEED facilitator, and has been involved with diversity, equity and inclusion efforts since 2015. He is eager to collaborate as a team member of the CAIS Commission on Diversity in Independent Schools.

Rebecca Flores Harper - Hopkins School
Rebecca is the Director of Equity and Community at Hopkins School in New Haven, CT. She is an alumna of Hopkins, has a Bachelors from Middlebury College, and a Masters in Secondary Education from Quinnipiac University. As a student and now as an educator, Rebecca has been involved in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work personally and professionally.  Whether supporting student initiatives, planning school-wide programming, doing curricular work, or running workshops, Rebecca is driven and determined to cultivate spaces and communities where individuals can be their authentic selves.

Jillian Forgue - Pomfret School
Jillian currently serves as a Spanish teacher and Co-Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Pomfret School, where she has worked since 2011.  She earned her B.A. in History and Hispanic Studies from Vassar College and her M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College with a focus on teaching methodology. At Pomfret, Jillian is involved in a number of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, including faculty retention and hiring, community events, professional development, and affinity groups for both students and faculty. Whether she is working with the senior leadership team, teaching, coaching, or doing dorm duty, Jillian strives to create inclusive, safe, and brave spaces and is committed to making her community (and world) a more diverse, equitable, and just place to live. She is honored and excited to serve on the CAIS Commission on Diversity in Independent Schools.

Shanelle Henry - Greens Farms Academy
Shanelle is the Director of Equity and Inclusion at Greens Farms Academy, a co-ed, Pre-K through grade 12 independent school located in Westport, Connecticut. In her role, Shanelle works with students, faculty, administrators, parents and Trustees to provide strategic vision and leadership in the areas of equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the school community. Shanelle comes to GFA (and Connecticut) from Friends Academy in Long Island, New York where she served for 7 years as Director of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, in addition to being a member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) Diversity Committee.
A graduate of Smith College (Northampton, MA), and the esteemed Social Justice Education program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Shanelle has nearly 20 years of experience teaching classes, designing workshops and facilitating training on implicit bias, microaggressions, anti-bias education, equity and social justice for corporations, non-profits, community and government agencies, schools, colleges, and universities.
Shanelle is also a regular presenter at the NAIS People of Color Conference and contributor to the revised edition of the book REEL DIVERSITY, by Brian C. Johnson (Peter Lang Publishing, 2015), an instructional resource guide for educators seeking to integrate film into their curriculum content about diversity and social justice.

Susan Martell Jenkin - Miss Porter's School
Susan is currently the Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer at Miss Porter's School. Susan completed her undergraduate at Fordham University where she majored in Mathematics and minored in French Language and Literature. She holds a Masters in Private School Leadership from the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College Columbia University. Susan joined Porter's in 2010 as a math and computer science teacher and has been involved with diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at since 2013. In March of 2018, she transitioned into her current full-time senior administrative role. Susan is responsible for overseeing Porter’s institutional commitment to equity and inclusion, and for guiding all departments and offices to shape curricular and co-curricular initiatives designed to promote personal, professional, and academic growth. She oversees the student Alliance system, advises affinity groups, leads the Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, and sits on various leadership teams. Susan is excited to continue to serve on the CAIS Commission on Diversity in Independent Schools.

Dr. Rachel Myers - Choate Rosemary Hall
Rachel currently serves as the Director of Equity & Inclusion and English teacher at Choate Rosemary Hall. Prior to Choate, she served as the inaugural Director of Diversity & Inclusion at The Hotchkiss School. She is a Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) Certified Leader and has spoken at many conferences focused on equity and inclusion. As an undergraduate at Binghamton University, Rachel L. Myers earned a B.A. in Africana Studies with a minor in sociology while playing four years of NCAA Division I basketball. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in African American & African Studies with a concentration in English from Michigan State University. In 2016, she was inducted into Binghamton University’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Dr. Myers is a published scholar who has focused her scholarship on the experience of black female athletes, media representation in sport, conceptions of masculinity in sport, and race and sport. As a diversity practitioner in independent schools, Dr. Myers seeks to ensure that each student--especially those with marginalized identities--graduates from their school community feeling they've thrived, rather than "survived."

Jacqueline Nelson - St. Luke's School
Jacqueline joined St. Luke's School - located in New Canaan, Connecticut - during the summer of 2020, as Director of Equity and Inclusion. Charged with helping to realize the school's "Vision for Inclusive Excellence," Jacqueline works closely with all constituencies to promote a more inclusive and equitable community, culture and 5-12 curriculum. A passionate educator and equity practitioner, Jacqueline has spent nearly a decade teaching in and working with independent school communities. Prior to her arrival at St. Luke's, Jacqueline served as the inaugural Director of Diversity and Inclusivity at the Hewitt School, a K-12 girls’ school in New York City and was a member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools Diversity Committee. With her Masters in General and Special Early Childhood Education from Bank Street School of Education, Jacqueline previously taught kindergarten in co-ed and both single sex school environments. She is a trained National SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Project facilitator, as well as an experienced professional development and curriculum designer, committed to the goals of anti-bias education and culturally responsive teaching.

Andrew Prince - Taft School
Andrew serves as the Dean of Multicultural Education at the Taft School where he helps to guide communal conversations about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity.  Andrew grew up in Oakland, California and Arlington, Virginia, before attending Harvard where he earned an AB in Government and a Minor in Moral and Political Philosophy.  Andrew worked at Chinquapin Preparatory School and Montclair Kimberley Academy as a history, government, and ethics teacher, football and baseball coach, and club and house advisor.  Andrew then earned his Masters from the Klingenstein Center at Columbia’s Teachers College before joining the Taft community where he has been for the last 3 years.  In his role, Andrew helps to lead communal efforts at improving capacity and awareness regarding DEI work in all facets of school life including but not limited to admissions, academics, athletics, dorm life, hiring, faculty training, and alumni outreach.  Andrew is a member of the Senior Administrative team and serves on a number of other committees at Taft.  Andrew is also a member of the Gardner Carney Leadership Institute Faculty where he helps to teach teachers to teach leadership.  Andrew is honored to be joining the CAIS Commission on Diversity in Independent Schools in service of our communal efforts to make a more inclusive and equitable world.

Mary Taylor-Lewis - Westover School
has lived in Connecticut since 2018, after growing up outside of Chicago and spending many years across the midwest. She currently serves as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Westover School in Middlebury, CT. Prior to joining independent schools, Mary's passion for equity and inclusion work began in high school leadership development summer programming, then transitioning to multicultural student affairs work in higher education. Mary received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies (Intercultural Communication focus) and Leadership Minor from the University of Minnesota, and her Master of Arts in Higher Education (Diversity and Social Justice focus) from the University of Michigan.

Rick Branson - CAIS
In 2019 Rick was named Executive Director of CAIS. He previously served as a head of school for 18 years at independent, international, and public charter schools, in addition to IB and AP teaching positions, administrative positions, and college experience as a professor and program coordinator. He earned a doctoral degree from Nova Southeastern University, with a focus on organizational leadership and a dissertation in organizational learning. His master’s and bachelor’s degrees in journalism are from The University of Oregon. Rick has served on six accreditation committees in the US and in Asia, served as Chair for the Commission on Accreditation for the Association of Independent Maryland Schools, served on state and international association boards, and presented on a variety of topics to professional organizations at national and international conferences. Rick currently serves on the Board of Directors for NBOA.