As Carla Hill sees it, she’s been preparing her whole life for this position at Ransom Everglades, the just-created post of Director of Inclusion and Community Engagement. Since her earliest years in Miami, she has worn many hats and borne many labels. She served as an outreach manager. She is a breast cancer survivor. She was teacher of the year. A mental health counselor. Miami Dolphins cheerleader. Arts program director. Non-profit board member.
She is a black woman who grew up in Miami whose family hails from Trinidad and Tobago. She is a kidney transplant recipient. A part-time PBS television host. Hill hopes the range of cultural experiences that have shaped her, and her broad educational and work background, will provide her with the right mix of empathy, enthusiasm, experience and expertise to help RE grow as an institution and community.
“I’m just thrilled to have been offered this opportunity,” she said. “I know they were very particular about who would get this role. For them to see something in me, I’m flattered and honored.”
Hill is working out of the admission office, striving to bring access to families outside of the school’s current orbit. She is also seeking to strengthen relationships inside the school, engaging with students and current families to ensure that all feel empowered and connected. She is serving as co-sponsor of the Student Diversity Council with faculty member Jeannine Lehr. She has also joined RE’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“When we talk about inclusion and diversity, it can seem scary and, at times, even a little volatile,” Hill said. “My biggest goal is that – when students and parents come across the breezeway – I want them to be seen for who they are. I don’t believe in a color-blind aesthetic. I think when we do that we are not acknowledging people’s experiences and their heritage and things they are proud of. So we need to see them for who they are, and welcome that.
“When they come through that coral archway, the most important thing is that they know they are part of the RE family. We are too small of community for anyone to feel otherwise. So that is my whole goal at Ransom Everglades.”
Hill arrived to Ransom Everglades from the Department of Mental Health Services at the Miami-Dade County Public Schools district office, where she supervised a team of mental health coordinators and provided district-wide support for students and school staff. This past summer, she served as a host for a Public Broadcasting System special out of Minneapolis that highlighted a 1999 Prince concert.
She previously worked at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center as Education and Outreach Manager; the National YoungArts Foundation as Director of National Programs; and Family Counseling Services of Greater Miami as Program Manager. She also worked as a language arts teacher at New World School of the Arts – her high school alma mater – and Hammocks Middle School. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Florida State University and master of science in mental health counseling at Barry University.
Hill said she realizes she can’t do her work at Ransom Everglades alone. It will require a community effort.
“As much as I want to be the fairy godmother, I realize my job is to make sure that I move the needle, just a bit at a time,” she said. “We are building for the future. When you build a structure, you can‘t think about building it for your community now; you have to think about who that community is going to be 10 years from now.
“Ransom Everglades is already excellent. Yet the leadership here is committed to see into the future and understand not just the academic needs but the cultural needs as well. That is really impressive.”