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Alumnae News

Actions Not Words in Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

by Leah Weidman ’11, Alumnae Council Communications Co-Chair

In 2015, Kate Morin walked through the Bellefontaine gates as Mayfield’s new Head of School ready to listen, learn and love—to serve our Mayfield community with “trust and reverence for the dignity and uniqueness of each person,” as our Holy Child mission demands. And, despite a five-year focus on expanding schoolwide programming to address issues of justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion (JDEI), the global racial reckoning of summer 2020 heightened the urgency of addressing the impact of systemic racism within our community. Mayfield’s alumnae stepped up in record numbers to help bring a new vigor to the school’s commitment to racial justice, and their generous contributions have kickstarted a new era of growth at 500 Bellefontaine, from the classroom to the boardroom.
Investing in JDEI programming at Mayfield

Mrs. Morin was deeply involved in supporting JDEI initiatives at her previous school, and when she arrived at Mayfield, she noticed that diversity and inclusion initiatives could be substantially bolstered. After extensive conversations with the Mayfield community, Mrs. Morin embarked on several student-centered initiatives to bring more attention to these imperatives, and she remains steadfast in her commitment to investing in JDEI programming.

“We are a diverse and dynamic community and we need to intentionally ensure that we are creating a safe environment where everyone feels cherished and has the confidence to become the best versions of their true selves,” she explains.

In 2016, Mrs. Morin supported the founding of the Student Diversity Council to develop student leadership and appointed Mayfield’s first-ever JDEI Coordinator, Sarah Briuer Boland, to further diversity, equity and inclusion programming. In 2018, she oversaw the founding of the Spectrum Club, a safe and supportive space for LGBTQIA+ students and their allies, and championed a new class called Formation of Self (FOS) to address essential teenage health, wellness and developmental needs. The bold four-year FOS curriculum addresses age-appropriate topics at each grade level, including a unit on “identifiers” such as gender, family structure and race. Bringing this conversation into the classroom offered the scaffolding to help students develop a positive racial identity, learn the skills and competencies required to foster a healthy, racially diverse community and work toward a racially just America. The JDEI program, overseen by Ms. Briuer Boland, who is now Mayfield’s Co-Director of JDEI along with Cassandra Gonzales, offers a variety of initiatives including diversity and cultural heritage programming, diversity council, educational conferences, curriculum, guest speakers, interfaith services, service learning, social justice, faculty professional development and student affinity groups.

Alums play a pivotal role

In the summer of 2020, when a movement for social and racial justice took center stage, schools across the United States faced a reckoning about the ways they had not been supportive enough to their students and their alums, especially inside the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. Mayfield made several public statements, which expressed its desire to live up to the Catholic mission of social justice, especially as expressed by Pope Francis, who says, “we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form.” Mayfield is further driven by the legacy of Cornelia Connelly, and the teachings of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. When it comes to JDEI issues, the school takes its cues from Holy Child Goal 4, “to work for Christian principles of justice, peace, and compassion in every facet of life” and Goal 5, “to create a learning climate based on trust and reverence for the dignity and uniqueness of each person.” 

Helena Garcia ’12 appreciated the language Mayfield was using to communicate their commitment to these goals, but reflecting on her time as a student was much more complicated. The public statements were “so different from my lived experience at the school. Systemically racist, white supremacist, homophobic, transphobic, and classist practices and ideals are present throughout the fabric of our society, and Mayfield is not exempt from that...we only uproot these ideals and practices by standing up and speaking out.”

When Helena reached out to her alma mater expressing her concern she was surprised to not only get a response back, but to receive an offer in partnership to help the school grow. This summer, Mayfield facilitated several listening and accountability sessions for alums to share their experiences. Hearing these reflections were difficult, but growing pains are necessary to create a safe space for current and future students. Head of School Kate Morin was involved in every discussion and read every email. She saw the feedback from alums as an absolute act of generosity, helping Mayfield to acknowledge the past and learn from it in order to move forward. She suggested the founding of a JDEI Alum Advisory Board, and many alums who attended those sessions decided to participate. Ultimately, over 70 alums expressed interest in being involved.

This fall, Helena assumed the role of Chair of the JDEI Alum Advisory Board. Through four subcommittees (Admissions, Academic Curriculum, Faculty Professional Development and Student Life) Mayfield alums are working together to make sure the school is a safe and welcoming place for every single student. Kate Morin and Board Chair Kelly Nelson Nakasone ’93 invited Helena to speak to the current Board of Trustees in September to highlight the urgency and value of JDEI work in every aspect of the Mayfield community.

Mayfield students are taught to practice “Actions Not Words,” and this motto has stayed with us long after we’ve left Mayfield. Helena says, “The most important thing Mayfield helped me develop was my voice. Now, I feel it is my duty and my privilege to use that voice to help Mayfield grow… This is my way of making sure I am using my words to create action, as Cornelia Connelly always encouraged us to do.”

How it Started / How it’s Going

Catholic social justice teachings inform the essential JDEI work at Mayfield. As a Catholic school, we are called to continue Christ’s example in working with the vulnerable and marginalized, and as a Holy Child school, we also follow Cornelia Connelly’s legacy of “a love full of action.”

Mayfield’s JDEI Co-Director Ms. Briuer Boland talks about her motivation, “In my very first interview I informed Kate [Morin] of my anti-racism activism and organizing and that I sought to join a community committed to anti-bias and anti-oppression work; she assured me she was looking to build the school's capacity for fighting racism and bias,” she said. This conversation was obviously something Kate took to heart, because Sarah explains that Kate “eventually tasked me with creating a sophomore curriculum for Formation of Self and coordinating JDEI initiatives.”

The conversations with alums over the summer, and the ongoing feedback with the JDEI Alum Advisory Board, shapes much of the way Mayfield continues to nurture and evolve. JDEI Co-Director Ms. Gonzales says, “The Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative can be thought of as a pillar of education at Mayfield. Through JDEI initiatives we are able to fully engage Holy Child goals of dignity and respect for all, in all aspects of the school.”

Mayfield is profoundly grateful for the insights and guidance of the JDEI Alum Advisory Board, as it helps to hold Mayfield accountable to its highest values. JDEI Board Chair Helena Garcia ’12 hopes more alumnae get involved as they work together with administration, faculty, staff and students.  

Even during remote learning, JDEI initiatives remain at the forefront of Mayfield’s educational and organizational priorities. Ongoing and recent initiatives include:

  • Eight new affinity groups launched this year in addition to several student clubs oriented to address equity and inclusion, including Cubs for Social Justice, Girls Learn International, and De-Stigmatize. Recently, Mayfield’s Student Diversity Council worked with the Latinas Unidas Club on a virtual Latinx Heritage Month assembly, and their thoughtful videos and slide presentation were shown and discussed during Advisory period.
  • Sarah Briuer Boland and Cassandra Gonzales are currently leading a year-long professional development with faculty and staff in SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) cohorts. Now three months into the training, they believe this program has the potential to have a profound impact on the Mayfield community.
  • Current parents are in the preliminary stages of creating a JDEI Parent Committee, which is slated to have its first meeting in December. Parents are also notified periodically through the weekly newsletter of relevant local JDEI events, such as those hosted by the SoCal People of Color in Independent Schools (POCIS) organization.
  • Mayfield’s Board of Trustees has been much more involved in JDEI initiatives, and after a retreat that focused on innate strength in supporting diversity on campus, they are currently crafting a Diversity Statement for the school. 
At the end of the day the goal of all of these groups is the same—to help make Mayfield the best possible place for all of its students, as they discover their gifts and find their voices. Mayfield is incredibly proud that current and former students are eager to lead and enrich the high school experiences of generations of students yet to come.
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JDEI Alum Advisory Board

Executive Board

Helena Garcia ’12, Chair
Abeni Carr ’02, Vice Chair
Christine Bustillos ’13, Secretary

Subcommittee Chairs

Faculty Professional Development
Michelle Hansen DeBoever ’07

Academic Curriculum
Angie Kim ’10

Student Life
Danielle Rutledge ’14 

Admissions
Cassandra Wilkins ’07

Members

Karina Alvarez ’13
Anna Arboles ’13
Alex Arnett ’12
Alexandra Badie ’14
Malissa Balderama ’09
Sabrina Beason ’03
Amber Berrios ’07
Ruby Bugarin ’89
Emma Camp ’12
Jalen Carter ’12
Leah Carter ’08
Vicki Chiang ’96
Katie Clancy ’11
Carolyn Cota ’06
Courtney Chung ’02
Remy De La Peza ’99
Katrina Deloso ’12
Tori Dutcher-Brown ’13
Carmela Feliciano ’12
Carol Flores ’12
Ealoni Friedenthal ’12
Angela Howell ’76
Venezia Hyland ’13
Kimberly West Isaac ’90
Desarae Jones ’04
Daina Petronis Kasputis ’80
Gerianne Sarte Kim ’90
Katy McGee ’09
Lora McManus ’14
Sarah Miller ’12
Amanda Morales ’12
Ashley O'Bryant ’04
Gail O'Rane ’90
Maddie Pena ’15
Indira Persad ’03
Charlotte Reid ’86
Phedellee Reyes ’02
Ivy Robertson ’06
Elizabeth Sanchez ’11
Nicoletta Smith ’06
Yasmin Firouzi Sotomayor ’02
Jamie Engler Stoney ’01
Hanami Sutton ’02
Gabrielle Porter Taylor ’90
Linda Buccola Thompson ’61
Amanda Torrez ’13
Catherine Van Dyke ’12
Tiffany LaJoye Walker ’02
Dominique Porter Wallace ’02
Leah Weidman ’11
Judy Gardner Willis ’64
Christina Yamasaki ’03
Kayla Yokoyama Dodge ’07
Julie Zovak ’12
Celeste Zumwalt ’11
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Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 28 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.