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NAIS Diversity Leadership Award

Congratulations to Johnnie Foreman, the recipient of our 2014 NAIS Diversity Leadership Award!

Friday, February 28
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Room: Northern Hemisphere D


Johnnie Foreman

Johnnie L. Foreman Jr., of the Gilman School (Maryland), is this year’s recipient of the 2014 NAIS Diversity Leadership Award. A native of Baltimore, Foreman began his career in education as a Baltimore City school teacher in 1974. After 10 years of teaching in the public sector, Foreman transitioned to independent schools, where he has served, for 30 years, at the Gilman School in Baltimore. His introduction to diversity initiatives began as he worked closely with the former assistant head of Gilman School on a city-wide educational project called Upward Bound. Foreman serves as the first director of community and diversity there, with a list of local and national accomplishments that give independent schools a stellar blueprint for inclusion and diversification. He is a current chair of the Association of Maryland and DC Independent Schools, NAIS Call to Action Committee member, and Diversity Leadership Institute facilitator. The Black Professional Men Organization awarded him the “Rays of Hope” honor.

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 was fine-tuned and sought to celebrate diversity achievements by individuals connected to an independent school community.

Past NAIS Diversity Leadership Award Recipients

Sherry Coleman


2013 Sherry Coleman

Sherry Tucker Coleman began her teaching career in public schools, but shortly found her way to independent schools, where she has spent more than 25 years. She earned her doctoral degree in education leadership and organization from the University of Pennsylvania. Coleman's groundbreaking dissertation research examined how faculty, in particular faculty of color, experienced a sense of membership in their school communities, and the connection and relationship to school mission and vision. Her work gained national attention; Coleman is writing a book of insights and strategies based on her findings. Previously, she served as a member of the SAAS (Success of African American Students in Independent Schools) team, a study of the experience of African-American students in four Philadelphia area independent schools, led by Howard Stevenson. Along with Stevenson, she co-authored an article to be published in Psychology in the Schools journal in 2013 based on her dissertation work.

Coleman was the founding director of the Independent School Consortium (ISC) of Greater Philadelphia, an organizational resource for faculty recruitment, retention, and diversity. The region blossomed under her leadership in respect to the retention and recruitment of faculty of color. Currently, she is a senior search consultant with Carney, Sandoe & Associates and developing her own consulting practice, as well as, an adjunct professor at Temple University.



2013 Jacquelyn Hamilton

Head of the lower school at Tower Hill School (Delaware), Jacquelyn Lacy Hamilton is a fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a recipient of a Woodrow Wilson Alliance Grant. Hamilton started teaching in public elementary school. In her 27-year career at The Episcopal Academy (Pennsylvania), Hamilton served as head of the lower school, third grade teacher, upper school English teacher, and director of testing and assessment.

As the first director of community life for Episcopal Academy, Hamilton worked with James L. Crawford, Jr., head of school, to create a programmatic model that propelled the concept of cultural competency to the forefront within independent schools of the greater Philadelphia area. Hamilton led oversight of all diversity initiatives of the school, including coordination of an all-community diversity training, recruitment and retention of faculty and students of color, membership on all admission committees, and service as a resource for faculty in the review of curriculum. As a member of the African American Boys Coalition, she supported the data collection at Episcopal Academy for the SASS (Success of African American Students in Independent Schools) study conducted by Howard Stevenson through the University of Pennsylvania. This regional study connected the experiences of African-American students with their academic success, resulting in recommendations for independent schools nationally. Hamilton serves on multiple boards of trustees.

TJ Vassar

2012 TJ Vassar

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."


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. Nichols decision, 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 ( 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 (, and Day of Silence ( 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 Link newspapers. 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.


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