My life’s work is to be a guide and resource to people who share my commitment to build more just, equitable, and loving relationships and communities. As an equity trainer, strategist and coach, I work with people in K-12 public and private schools, universities, faith-based organizations, non-profits and socially responsible businesses to center equity in the way they build their organizations and serve their constituents. I specialize in helping people who share many or all of my dominant group identities build the self-awareness, skills, and confidence they need to understand and value multiple perspectives and to adapt their behavior across cultural similarities and differences.
All of my core identities define what is “normal” and where power accrues in America, and the work I do in the equity space comes directly through who I am. I have been successful as a leader and a follower by learning how to de-center my identities in order to earn trust and build relationships. I have learned how to build abiding intercultural relationships through the grace and patience of colleagues and friends from different backgrounds and lived experiences. They have stood by me and guided me as I have come to understand who I am and how people from my identity groups have built and perpetuated systems that lead to inequitable outcomes for so many. The path forward requires transforming the knowledge and experience I have gained into the vital work of dismantling oppressive systems and building up people and institutions from a base of equity.
As an qualified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory [IDI], I find that the IDI’s developmental framework and language call people into the work of building cultural competence in a compelling way. For adult learners, the IDI offers relevant, straight-forward, action-oriented development steps that meet people where they are and help them move forward. I often hear people respond to IDI-based trainings, especially those centered on race, religion, gender, and sexuality, by asking poignant questions like, “Why didn’t I know that history?” or “Why haven’t I experienced that?” I have also found that for people with multiple dominant group identities, the IDI helps them understand and work through the cognitive, somatic, and spiritual dissonance they experience as they recognize their complicity in systems that lead to inequitable outcomes for people with non-dominant identities.
Recognized as a leader in the School Reform movement as board chair and recently the associate director at Global Academy, I have played a vital role in building the most successful school in the state over the past decade for closing the achievement gap for students from the recent immigrant community whose families are not yet economically established. I led the rebuilding of the middle school that led to significantly improved test scores. I built a fund-raising infrastructure from scratch that has raised more than $500,000 from public and private sources, and I played a key role in negotiating and financing an $11M building deal that moved Global from a strip mall to an architectural award-winning campus.
At The Blake School, as the Founding Director of the Office of Equity and Community [OECE] from 2006-2017, I was an advocate for bringing together LGBTQIA+ support, programs for students of color, service learning, LearningWorks, and international programs into one department. We were the first Minnesota school to create an all gender welcome restroom that didn’t have a lock on the door, and, in general, we significantly expanded the capacity of the faculty and administration to understand and work through their own identities and increase their intercultural competence in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning for all students.
On this journey, I am fortunate to be allied with Marie Michael and Aamera Siddiqui, two remarkable equity practitioners whose wisdom and compassion inspire me. My wife Sue is a wonderful school leader who serves students with learning differences at Groves Academy, and together we have three children who keep us joyfully busy and grounded. I am an avid runner and cyclist, an herbivore, and a student of Tim Burkett at the Minnesota Zen Center.