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.


Commission Members

Susan Martell Jenkin, Chair (Miss Porter's School)
Shanelle Henry, Vice Chair (Greens Farms Academy)

Chrissy Colon Bradt (Greenwich Country Day School)
Elisa Del Valle Cardona (The Ethel Walker School)
Joan Edwards (Kingswood Oxford School)
Amanda Friedman (Miss Porter's School)
Rebecca Flores Harper (Hopkins School)
Keith Hinderlie (Choate Rosemary Hall)
Elizabeth Parada (The Loomis Chaffee 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.

Joan began her career in education at Kingswood Oxford School as a French teacher in 1987. She has held several positions such as Director of Admissions, Associate Dean of Students and most recently as Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Cultural Competency. In that role, she coordinates work with students and educators. By facilitating intergroup dialogue, Joan aims to increase the confidence and expertise of ALL educators as the move along their journey to being culturally responsive educators. All of Joan's efforts lead to one purpose – supporting our schools in being spaces where we can be effective and empowered participants in the diverse communities within which we find ourselves.

Amanda Friedman - Miss Porter's School
Amanda is the Associate Director of the Institute for Global Education at Miss Porter’s School. In addition to this work, she also supports the Office of Equity and Inclusion. Amanda holds undergraduate degrees in English, Education, and Women's Studies, and completed her graduate degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Connecticut. Beginning her career teaching English in public school, Amanda also helped to coordinate a K-12 cross-cultural exchange initiative with sister school partnerships in China, France, and Japan. This led her to independent schools where she previously served as the Director of Equity and Community at the Hopkins School, Associate Dean of Community Affairs, working in diversity, inclusion, global education, service learning, and student life at the King School. Amanda is delighted to serve on 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.

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.

Keith Hinderlie, Ph.D. - Choate Rosemary HallKeith Hinderlie, Ph.D. is the Director of Equity and Inclusion at Choate Rosemary Hall. In this position, Dr. Hinderlie serves as an academic and institutional leader in these areas, guiding Choate's evolution as a community.
Dr. Hinderlie comes to Choate from The Barrie School in Silver Spring, Maryland, an independent school serving students pre-K through grade 12, where he served as Director of Student and Family Services. A licensed psychologist, he brings to Choate more than 20 years' experience as a school administrator and educator working with students and adults in both independent and charter schools, among them Milton Academy (MA) and Graland Country Day School (CO). He also served as Director of Programs, Program Development Consultant, Director of Counseling, and Consulting Psychologist to the SEED Foundation, the SEED School of Maryland, and the SEED School of Washington D.C., the first public charter boarding school in the U.S.
Dr. Hinderlie holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of New Hampshire, and a master's degree and Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Boston College. Over the past 12 years, he has taken on increasing responsibilities as an educational leader and consultant, and has become a nationally recognized expert in promoting diversity, inclusion, and multicultural practices in schools. For many years he has served as a resident faculty member of the Diversity Directions Independent School Seminar, and as a speaker at professional development workshops at a variety of NAIS schools.

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.

Elizabeth Parada - Loomis Chaffee School
Elizabeth began working at Loomis Chaffee in the fall of 1999 as a Spanish teacher and the Counselor of Diversity. Since then, she was an integral part of shifting and growing the position, first to Director of Multicultural Affairs on a half-time basis, until this academic year, when she has become a full time administrator as Director of Diversity and Inclusion. In her role, Elizabeth has developed workshops, facilitates formal and informal discussions and provides support to faculty and students. She is also the chair of the Climate and Inclusion Committee at Loomis Chaffee, currently charged with developing a strategic plan for diversity and inclusion and implementing consistent strategies for data collection. Elizabeth holds two masters degrees, one on Public Health/Community Health Education and the other in Spanish language and culture.

Rick Branson - CAIS
Rick has 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.