Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, and Accessibility
Commitment to DEIJA
As a white male, I understand the importance of seeking perspectives of those whose lived experiences differ from mine. I acknowledge the traditional lack of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in speech, debate, and theatre education spaces. As a queer-identifying person, I understand speech, debate, and theatre have often offered a safe space for LGBTQ+ people. Whether in an executive management, board, or staff capacity, I fiercely advocate with an equity lens and active inclusion of BIPOC individuals who have not traditionally been part of decision-making spaces monopolized by white people.
My own lived experiences have shaped who I am today. I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – one of the most segregated cities in the United States of America, yet was fortunate to attend public schools with a predominant African American/Black population. Most of my teachers, kindergarten through eighth grade were Black women, who incorporated much of their own rich heritage into the classroom, where I was immersed in Black history and traditions well beyond the month of February. When I returned to teach at my alma mater, my own lived experiences as well as a focus on culturally responsive as well as relevant teaching were key to fostering engagement and success in my students. This was especially embraced in the International Baccalaureate program in which I taught, where incorporating myriad cultures into curriculum was central to the philosophy of that program.
I spent a semester teaching in the People's Republic of China, immersing myself in a culture and place vastly different from my own experiences. I needed to practice cultural competence in my daily life, as well as in the classroom, again, to promote meaningful learning outcomes in my students.
As a gay man, I understand the importance of safe spaces and providing visibility as an out-educator and nonprofit leader. I have had students disclose their LGBTQ+ identities to me, so I could help them find the best resources for affirming their authentic selves, while navigating the often complicated circumstances of hiding their identities in their personal lives.
Finally, as someone who is neurodivergent, I understand the importance of overcoming mental and emotional health obstacles and fostering accessibility.