The work of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) has long been important at Overlake. It makes up a whole pillar of the strategic plan. “The goal of the strategic pillar is to build capacity to integrate cultural competency into the life of the institution,” says Mahtab Mahmoodzadeh, Director of Diversity and Inclusion. The DEI office has been working hard on programming for students and are looking forward to what this year holds.
One of the most exciting things about this year is that Overlake is now a part of the newly formed People of Color in Independent Schools (POCIS) Seattle group. POCIS Seattle is a consortium of independent schools joining their time and resources together to champion people of color in independent schools. These consortiums exist all over the country and there are more than 30 area schools that are a part of this one. One of the most successful things this group of schools has done is the Equity and Inclusion Virtual Speaker Series which is returning this year.
“The series allows people to learn from speakers we can’t afford on our own. To be able to bring this caliber of scholarship to every parent, kid, and teacher here is something that helps build their capacity,” Mahmoodzadeh says.
This year, the office of DEI is encouraging not just students but families to engage with this series by hosting community dinners on campus around these events providing opportunities to talk with other families about the series. “Want to be able to watch it together, break bread, and talk about it,” she says. Stay tuned for more information on these dinners.
The biggest hope for the series is that families find ways to engage around these topics at home and these talks are a great place to start. “My hope is that families have conversations at home. You find meaningful change in these conversations. What are your family values around these things, how do you see the world?” she comments. Mahmoodzadeh is particularly excited about moderating February’s conversation with Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of The King Center in Atlanta and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
So, mark your calendars for this year’s speaker series and look for new ways your family can engage together and with other families in our community. The entire speaker lineup can be found here.