2015 NAIS Diversity Leadership Award and Workshop
Honoring Doreen Oleson
This annual honor goes to outstanding leaders, connected to independent schools, who have devoted extraordinary work to advance diversity and inclusivity on a national and/or international scale. This year we honored Doreen Oleson of Saint Mark’s School (California). Now in her 25th and final year as head of Saint Mark’s School, Doreen Oleson has worked throughout her career to support leaders of color and women. Instrumental in the growth of Saint Mark’s, Oleson boosted the retention of teachers and staff of color to 58 percent.
Born and raised on a sugar plantation on the Big Island of Hawaii, Oleson attended college in the Midwest. She returned home to organize and lead the State of Hawaii’s Department of Education Hawaiian Language Program. Her early teaching and work with native Hawaiian children inspired her to pursue more opportunities to support underserved students and families of color. In 1980, she moved to California to serve as assistant vice president for Pepperdine University, where she led the acquisition of commercial properties and construction of off-campus educational centers for the university.
Oleson has served on boards and accreditation teams for the National Association of Episcopal Schools, Elementary School Heads of America, Country Day School Headmasters Association, Cal West Educators, California Association of Independent Schools, Commission on Schools of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, NAIS, Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, Northwest Association of Independent Schools, and Western Association of Schools and Colleges. She is a field instructor at the Klingenstein Program at Teachers College.
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
2014 Johnnie Foreman
2013 Sherry Coleman and Jacquelyn Hamilton
2012 TJ Vassar
2011 Albert M. Adams and James K. Scott
2010 Reveta Franklin Bowers
2009 Lucinda Lee Katz
2008 Kevin Jennings
2007 Asma Gull Hasan
2006 Nancy Giles
2005 Luis Rodriguez
2004 Chief Paul Rich