Alumni
RE Log Magazine

Anti-Racism Task Force Report

The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were not anomalies. After all, racism had taken Black lives before. But they were unique. For one, the reaction was global; protests were held in 60 countries and on all seven continents. But there was also a more intimate, personal reckoning that grew in tandem with the number of protests. Corporations nationwide experienced virtual and actual employee walkouts, long-standing statues and monuments were removed, buildings renamed, even the Mississippi state flag was changed. 

Ransom Everglades too had its own intimate reckoning. In the months following George Floyd’s murder, RE’s board of trustees established the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (it was created out of the existing Student Life and Inclusion Committee). Ransom Everglades Black Alumni, reBa, wrote a letter signed by 107 alumni, students, parents, faculty and former trustees that identified how racial injustice is experienced at Ransom Everglades, and provided specific, evidence-based “REquests” for its eradication. ReBa’s letter was followed by a letter from hundreds of current and former students, Ransom Everglades Allies, expressing solidarity with the RE Black community and proposing specific anti-racist principles and action steps. At a virtual town hall meeting that followed, reBa members shared stories of traumatic encounters of racial bias and discrimination at the hands of fellow classmates, faculty and staff.

Their stories moved many members of the Ransom Everglades community. The Anti-Racism Task Force was established by the head of school and board of trustees shortly thereafter, and the current members applied to participate and were accepted. This task force, which includes representatives from all constituencies – alumni, parents, trustees, faculty and reBa – is chaired by alumna Victoria Beatty ’00, RE’s Director of Inclusion and Community Engagement Carla Hill, parent/board member Stephanie Dua and faculty member Dr. Brandon King. 

The Anti-Racism Task Force was established to provide information, counsel and recommendations to the school’s leadership and the Ransom Everglades Board of Trustees Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The task force’s work focuses on promoting and ensuring an anti-racist educational and work environment at Ransom Everglades. The task force also focuses on creating a school community that is inclusive and in which all members can reach their full potential. There are three phases of its work:
  1. Proposing short-term recommendations. This phase was completed in December 2020.
  2.  Developing three- to five-year goals and outcomes for becoming a model of diversity, equity and inclusion in the independent school world. A report is expected in late May 2021.
  3. Recommending a communications process to ensure transparency and progress with respect to achieving goals. We recognize the significance of this work and the resources and commitment needed at all levels to ensure its success. The work needed to achieve the goals will be a multi-year process. 
In its letter on June 19 (Juneteenth), 2020, reBa made a number of REquests to support the school’s diversity and inclusion efforts, pushing the school to prioritize and fast-track work in three areas: REcruitment, REtention and REinforcement (task force named REsponsibility) at Ransom Everglades. The task force added two additional pillars: REflect and REach as well as RElate. Among the first acts of the Anti-Racism Task Force was to adopt the REquests, using them to outline categories of work and create a road map for all future recommendations, including the final pillars and short-term recommendations shared on the succeeding pages.

Short-Term Recommendations to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of Board of Trustees: 

REcruitment
The recruitment of students, faculty, staff and trustees at Ransom Everglades must result in a school community that accurately reflects the racial diversity in Miami-Dade County. Our short-term recommendations are:
  • Initiate recruitment and admissions processes to increase the Black student population by 10 students with particular emphasis on the sixth and ninth grades for the 2021-22 school year.
  • Increase awareness of RE and recruit in Black and brown communities through community partnerships, local admission fairs, and collaboration with local school administrators.
REtention
It is not enough to recruit talented students and faculty – there must be institutionalized support mechanisms in place to ensure those students and faculty feel at home and choose to remain at Ransom Everglades. Our short-term recommendations are:
  • Audit curricula on both campuses to ensure cultural inclusivity and incorporate Black history and literature in school programming.
  • Compulsory DEI training for faculty and staff regarding microaggressions, bias and inclusive classroom practices.
  • Expand financial aid awards to permit students to participate fully in all extra-curricular activities.
  • Formal inclusion of DEI work in job performance reviews and job descriptions, and consider additional compensation for such work when appropriate.
  • Mentorship: formal peer-to-peer mentorship for Black and brown faculty and students.
  • Create identity-based affinity groups by providing physical space and appropriate faculty advisement.
REsponsibility
Ransom Everglades must ensure that its disciplinary system and outcomes are equitable for all students. In its letter, reBa used the word REinforcement to frame this priority, which is essential for students to feel safe and supported in the school environment. Our short-term recommendations are:
  • Appoint a blind arbitrator (RE staff, faculty or administrator) to be a part of every significant disciplinary session involving Black and minority students.
  • Update the employee and student manuals/handbooks with more concrete language about RE’s anti-racism principles and incorporate clear language about consequences for racist and discriminatory practices or behaviors. 
REflect and REach
The Anti-Racism Task Force developed this pillar to emphasize the importance of full community engagement and constant reflection and reassessment to prevent stagnation and complacency. Our short-term recommendation is:
  • Convene community town halls/workshops with parents, faculty, alumni, and other key stakeholder groups to facilitate discussions around race, engage in knowledge level-setting, acknowledge the past, and collectively define the future of RE. 
RElate
The task force added this as a separate pillar to emphasize its importance – even though student engagement is fundamental to each pillar. Student voices must be sought, heard and re-engaged. Anti-racist work is not just for the adults in the room. Our short-term recommendation is:
  • Facilitate discussions with students around race, engage in knowledge level-setting, acknowledge the past, and collectively define the future of RE.
Across all pillars we recommend:
  • Audit RE operations for racial bias and inequity within branding culture (images and text), hiring practices, admission policies, disciplinary policies, and lived experiences of Black students, faculty and staff, and implement corrective actions accordingly.      
There is much work to do, and we are fully committed. Members of this group have been meeting nearly weekly since our work commenced last August. The term “labor of love” is surely overused, but it applies in this case: Our hearts are in this work, and we are fully engaged. We look forward to sharing our full report with long-term recommendations in May.

– Chairs of the Anti-Racism Task Force

Meet Ransom Everglades Anti-Racism Task Force 

Chairs

Victoria Beatty ’00 
Alum
JD, Howard University; 
MEd, University of Miami; 
BA, Spelman College 
Real estate attorney and 
doctoral student 
 
Stephanie Dua 
Parent, Trustee 
MPP, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Kennedy Fellow; 
BS in Geophysics, UCLA  
President & Co-Founder of Homer 
  
Carla Hill 
Administrator 
MS in Mental Health Counseling; BA in English Literature/Secondary Education Florida State University; Executive Certificate in DEI, Georgetown University  
Director of Inclusion and Community Engagement, Ransom Everglades 
 
Brandon King 
Faculty 
PhD in Chinese Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong; MA in Chinese Law with distinction, School of Oriental and African Studies University of London; MA in Chinese, University of Massachusetts Amherst; BA in Economics and Chinese, Swarthmore College  
Teacher in Humanities Department and coach, Ransom Everglades 
 
Members

Fiacre Bienvenu 
Parent 
PhD in Political Science, Florida International University; MA in Black Studies, Florida International; BA in Sociology, Université Libre de Kigali 
University Professor of Politics and Black Studies 
 
Melissa Buckner 
Parent 
JD, Rutgers Law School; 
BA in Political Science and English from Rutgers College 
Community volunteer and activist 
 
Diego Duckenfield-Lopez ’20 
Alum, reBa
Student, Amherst College 
 
Terron Ferguson ’04  
Alum
JD, New York University School of Law; BA in Philosophy, 
Morehouse College 
Entrepreneur and organizer 
 
Lisa Franklin 
Parent
BBA and MBA in Marketing, Howard University
Head of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at HackerUSA
 
Wendell Graham ’74 
Alum, Former Trustee 
JD University of Miami; BA, Columbia;  
Retired county judge; sole practitioner, general practice 
 
Olga Granda 
Parent 
BA Religion, Davidson College; 
Managing Partner, Cecilia + Cozette 
and community activist 
 
Patrick Hession 
Faculty  
MA in French, Middlebury College; 
BA in Psychology and French, 
Boston College; 
Teacher of world languages and 
physical education, and coach, 
Ransom Everglades 
 
Christine James ’99 
Alum
MEd, University of Florida; working on specialist degree in education leadership 
Teacher 
 
Jeannine Lehr 
Faculty 
PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Florida; 
MA in French, Middlebury College; 
BA in French, Florida International University 
Teacher of French and Spanish, co-sponsor of the Student Diversity Council, co-sponsor of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Faculty and Staff Committee, Ransom Everglades 
 
Caroline Miller ’06 
Alum 
MPH, Columbia; MPA, Columbia; 
BA in Political Science, Duke University 
Special Initiatives Program Manager, NYC Department of Health and 
Mental Hygiene 
 
Kareena Rudra ’20 
Alum 
Student and activist, Vassar College 
 
Patricia C.A. Sasser 
Administrator, Parent 
MA in Educational Leadership and Administration, The George Washington University;
BA English Language & Literature and in African American Studies, 
University of Virginia 
Head of the Upper School, 
Ransom Everglades
 
Jamila Stephens ’12 
Alum, reBa 
MBA candidate, Florida International University; 
BS in Education, University of Miami; Ticket Operations Specialist, 
Miami Heat 
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Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.