2012 NAIS Annual Conference | Seattle | Feb 29 - Mar 2, 2012

NAIS Diversity Leadership Award

2012 NAIS Diversity Leadership Award

Thank you for your interest in the NAIS Diversity Leadership Award, which honors outstanding leaders, connected to independent schools, who have worked to advance diversity and inclusivity on a national and/or international scale. Please join us to recognize this year's honoree TJ Vassar when we present the NAIS Diversity Leadership Award at the 2012 NAIS Annual Conference, February 29 - March 2, at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. See you in Seattle!

TJ Vassar 

TJ Vassar
Friday, March 2, 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
NAIS Diversity Leadership Award

For nearly 20 years, Seattle native TJ Vassar has served as director of diversity for Lakeside School (Washington). However his tenure at Lakeside started decades beforehand. While in junior high school, he was invited to attend the Lakeside Education Enrichment Program (LEEP), a six-week program that aims to boost students to higher achievement during the summer and later in their school life. The LEEP director recruited Vassar to attend Lakeside in 1965, which he eventually agreed to do despite the fact that he was one of the few students of color -- and they were all boys!

What began with the brave action of a teenager venturing into the unknown has culminated in a lifelong career dedicated to diversity and inclusion, respect and dignity. Earning degrees from Lakeside, Harvard University, and University of Washington, Vassar then worked tirelessly in public policy for the Seattle Public Schools and the state of Washington. Together with Bernie Noe, head of school for Lakeside, Vassar has intentionally altered the school's demographics -- doubling the number of students of color to 48 percent of total enrollment in the last 13 years -- and increasing financial aid. Never compromising the school's academic standards. Today LEEP proudly refers to Vassar as "The Godfather." 


History of the NAIS Diversity Leadership Award
NAIS began honoring those who work with diversity at its 2004 conference in Montreal, Canada. There, Chief Paul Rich received the award to acknowledge his lifelong commitment to the Sheshatshiu Innu community. By 2007, the award became fine tuned and sought to celebrate diversity achievements by individuals connected to an independent school community; Groton graduate Asma Gull Hasan received the 2007 NAIS Diversity Leadership Award for her outstanding contribution to national dialogue on understanding Muslim culture and religion.

Listed below please find the NAIS Diversity Leadership Award recipients to date:


2011 Albert M. Adams
Head of Lick-Wilmerding High School (California) for 23 years, Al Adams is known to many for his decades of service as a teacher, coach, administrator, founder, and head at independent schools across the country, including The Colorado Springs School (Colorado), Children's School, and The Cambridge School of Weston (Massachusetts). He founded the national Network of Progressive Educators, served on the board of the Multicultural Alliance, and was a founding faculty member of the NAIS Leaders of Color Workshop.

Tireless advocate for equity in education, Adams is an active trustee of Aim High, an enrichment program that serves 1,100 low-income Bay Area middle schoolers each summer; founded the Oakland Academic Stars Scholarship Program, benefiting African-American high school students in the Oakland Unified School District; created the Bay Area Teachers Center, a credentialing program designed for full-time working teachers; co-chaired the steering committee that created the City Fields Foundation that has brought $45 million of renovations to San Francisco play fields, ensuring greater access for girls and low-income children; and is a founding board member of the Geneva Car Barn, a neighborhood project devoted to engaging underserved young people in job training through the arts. Adams continues to build community with public/private partnerships.


2011 James K. Scott
Native Hawaiian James Kapae‘alii Scott returned to his alma mater in 1994 as the 16th president of Punahou School (Hawaii). He has increased access to a Punahou education through a vigorous financial aid program and champions community initiatives, like the Clarence T.C. Ching PUEO program. The College Board recognized PUEO as a model program for helping low-income students prepare for college. Under Scott's leadership, Punahou has been honored as an Apple Distinguished School; named top Green School in America; and spotlighted by Sports Illustrated twice for the nation's #1 high school athletics program. In 2010, Punahou initiated a partnership with three U.S. and four Chinese schools to launch the Student Global Leadership Initiative, which seeks to build an international cohort of student leaders committed to positive social change.

An active, engaged leader, Scott has served as a trustee of The College Board and chair of the Secondary School Admission Test Board. He is a director of Hawaiian Electric Industries and trustee of the Barstow Foundation, Klingenstein Center Advisory Board, Country Day School Headmasters' Association of the U.S., INMAX (Independent Schools with Maximum Capacity), and NAIS. In 2009, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District VII recognized Scott with its inaugural Chief Executive Leadership Award for Independent Schools.


2010 Reveta Franklin Bowers
Born and educated in Los Angeles, Reveta Franklin Bowers is an alumna of the University of Southern California. Starting her career with the Los Angeles Unified School District, she left in 1972 to teach at The Center for Early Education (California), where she is currently head of school. Always active in her community and education, Bowers serves on multiple boards, including the Educational Records Bureau, Klingenstein Center, National Business Officers Association, and California Community Foundation, where she is board president. She was an outside director of The Walt Disney Company from 1993-2003. Past board service includes the Coalition for Justice; Harvard-Westlake, Brentwood, and Windward schools; chair of the board of the Educational Records Bureau; treasurer of the NAIS board; president of the California Association of Independent Schools; and president of the board of governors of the Fulfillment Fund, which offers tutoring and college counseling to inner city students in Los Angeles public schools. A faculty member at the NAIS Institute for New Heads, Bowers mentors newly appointed independent school heads. Married for 39 years and the mother of two grown children, Bowers belongs to numerous professional organizations, most of which support education and community outreach both locally and nationally.


2009 Lucinda Lee Katz
A leader in the field of education, Lucinda Lee Katz currently heads Marin Country Day School, outside of San Francisco. Previously she worked with Mayor Richard M. Daley in Chicago to develop an early education program, and served as director of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (IL) and as principal of the nursery and lower schools for 16 years. Katz began her career with the National Teacher Corps Program. Her experience as the first Chinese bilingual, bicultural teacher in the San Francisco Public Schools led to her work on the landmark Lau v. Nicholsdecision, bringing bilingual education to our nation’s schools. She founded the first bilingual, bicultural day care center in San Francisco and helped open the Chinese American Service League’s day care and family support center in Chicago. As professor and lecturer at Erikson Institute, University of Illinois, and the University of Chicago for more than 20 years, Katz completed research and writing in mathematics teaching and learning, curriculum development, and family and cultural studies. She has consulted on three films and been a guest of Oprah, Tom Brokaw, and Phil Donahue. Her board service includes the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University, NAIS, Prevent Child Abuse, Chicago Children’s Museum, and the Chinese American Service League.


2008 Kevin Jennings
Kevin Jennings is a writer, teacher, and leader in the fields of K-12 education and civil rights. He became the faculty advisor to the nation’s first Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at Concord Academy (MA) in 1988, launching his life on a path dedicated to seeking to ensure schools become places where young people learn to value and respect everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. As more and more educators and students began contacting him for help, Jennings saw a need that wasn’t being met and in 1990 founded the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (http://www.glsen.org/). Jennings left teaching to build the all-volunteer GLSEN organization into a national force. Under Jennings's leadership, GLSEN has made safe schools into a national issue, increased the number of students protected from harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity by more than 600 percent, and grown the number of GSAs from less than 50 in 1995 to more than 3,000 today. GLSEN programs like GSAs, No Name-Calling Week (http://www.nonamecallingweek.org/), and Day of Silence (http://www.dayofsilence.org/) are now commonplace in America’s schools. Jennings was named to Newsweek magazine’s “Century Club” as one of “100 people to watch in the new century” and is also the recipient of the Human and Civil Rights Award of the National Education Association.


2007 Asma Gull Hasan
Asma Gull Hasan, an alumna of Groton School (MA), is the author of Why I Am a Muslim and American Muslims: The New Generation. The daughter of Pakistani immigrants and born in Chicago then raised in Colorado, she considers herself an all-American girl and calls herself a “Muslim Feminist Cowgirl.” Hasan has been a columnist for The Denver Post and The Pakistan Linknewspapers. Hasan has also been featured on the “Fox News Show,” National Public Radio, CNN, CNN International, C-SPAN, and ABC. In 2002, Hasan appeared in the History Channel documentary Inside Islam. The U.S. State Department selected her as an ambassador in the public relations campaign with the Islamic world. Her paper on full-time Islamic schools, “The Social Problems of Educating Muslim Children in America,” was published in the book Islam in America: Images and Challenges. One of her fictional short stories was published in the book Taking Off: Coming of Age Stories. Hasan also serves as an editor of the monthly online publication The American Muslim. Hasan spoke to NAIS about developing an appreciation for multiculturalism in independent schools.


2006 Nancy Giles
Whether she’s delighting TV audiences on CBS Sunday Morning or theater fans with her solo pieces, Nancy Giles is a funny, perceptive, and provocative observer of today’s world. She is the writer and performer of the one-woman shows, Notes of a Negro Neurotic and Black Comedy: The Wacky Side of Racism. A self-described “six-foot, one-inch black woman who’s not model-thin,” Giles has made her mark dismantling misconceptions about race, feminism, and sexism. After graduating from Oberlin College, she spent three years with Chicago’s esteemed Second City improv troupe. Winner of the Theater World Award for the off-Broadway musical, Mayor, Giles also has several TV and movie credits. She has served on The Jay Thomas Morning Show on New York radio, Giles & Moriarity on Philadelphia radio, and Fox After Breakfast. When Giles realized that black actresses were mostly limited to playing “crack addicts, social workers, and boring judges,” she decided to strike out as a writer/performer on her own. “I want to make people laugh and I want to entertain them, but I also want to provoke thought and discussion,” says Giles. On topics ranging from popular culture and body image to creativity and racial bias, Giles is a woman with a witty and compassionate message.


2005 Luis Rodriguez
Luis Rodriguez has emerged as one of the top Chicano writers in the United States. The subjects, people, and perspectives of his writing and life experience grow from his neighborhood, East Los Angeles, which may be the nation’s largest barrio. As a writer, Rodriguez has listened to and recreated the powerful voice of his working class friends and neighbors, people with whom he grew up and raised his own family. His passion as a writer spills over into his passion as an activist teacher, demonstrated in the 20+ years of workshops, readings, and talks in prisons, juvenile facilities, homeless shelters, migrant camps, Native American reservations, and men’s retreats. The life and work of Rodriguez, his selfless, courageous activism on the part of underserved members of his community, moved His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, to recognize him as an Unsung Hero of Compassion, a designation awarded to 50 men from all cultures and from all over the world.

Paul Rich

2004 Chief Paul Rich
Chief Paul Rich of the Sheshatshiu Innu Band Council addressed the 2004 NAIS Annual Conference goers in Montreal about the economic and cultural accomplishments of the Sheshatshiu Innu community, one of two first nation groups in Canada.

Conference Program
NAIS - National Association of Independent Schools