01 April 2011

Leadership for Diverse Schools celebrates fifth anniversary

Janifer Nolte, left, Tom Nesbitt, and Kristi Miller work together
during their Leadership for Diverse Schools fall retreat. The
three are part of the program's Class of 2011.
 by Randy Freedman

The Central Penn Business Journal recently reported on the discussions that could produce a merger between the York County Economic Development Corp. and the York County Chamber of Commerce. In another issue of the Business Journal, Bill Hartman from the York County Community Foundation, writing in an op-ed, applauded the merger talks and said the foundation had stepped up its efforts to encourage nonprofits with similar missions to seek alliances or collaborations.

Everywhere you turn in the York community, particularly among nonprofits, merger is the message. Thomas McLaughlin, a guru on nonprofit mergers and alliances, spoke this past year in York. Agencies are meeting to discuss varied opportunities. And Leadership York is conducting a March “Lunch on Board” on the subject of successful alliances and partnerships. Some of these discussions and opportunities are more “public” than others. All of them are necessary to assure York County resources are used effectively.

The York JCC can claim part of a successful nonprofit collaboration. In response to a YorkCounts call for more tolerance and cultural sensitivity, the York JCC and Leadership York formed a partnership to develop Leadership for Diverse Schools.

This Leadership York program celebrates its fifth anniversary this year as it graduates the 2011 class. More than 150 educators from across York County have been through the program, and they are working to make York County schools a more accepting and bias-free environment thanks to the vision created by Leadership York and the York JCC.

Through the years, participants have gained knowledge and the leadership skills to bring an increased acceptance of differences back to their school through this interactive and experiential course. They have initiated and implemented action plans that are helping transform our county’s classrooms, schools and districts into a more culturally competent community.

Leadership York staff wrote the leadership content, and the York JCC staff wrote the diversity education content, allowing each agency to contribute content in an exciting and wonderfully effective way. Neither agency needed to reinvent the wheel. Each brought to the project what it knows so well how to do and magically (OK, not so magically as it was hard work) LDS was born. The two agencies continue to collaborate on leading the program and working with the participants to assure the highest level of content and experience.

How perfect is it that a leadership and diversity program can serve as a model for our community? Discussions regarding mergers, alliances and collaborations require exactly those special qualities: leadership and acceptance of difference. As the Maya Angelou quote on Leadership York’s Web site puts it: "We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value..."

York County is a better place thanks to Leadership for Diverse Schools. Participants continue to let us know the impact they are having in their schools. York County can be a better place also as others in the community follow the model to come together and provide programs and services in a more collaborative and effective way.

Randy Freedman is executive director of the York Jewish Community Center. She joined the JCC staff in 1991 and founded the Diversity Education department in 1994. She was a member of the original YorkCounts Commission currently serves on the YorkCounts board. As a member of one of the YorkCounts education/diversity focused committees, she was one of several who were instrumental in creating the vision and design of what is now the Leadership for Diverse Schools program that Leadership York offers in collaboration with the JCC. Randy holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology/archaeology from Cornell University and an MBA in Human Resource Management from University of Colorado. She has two grown sons, both now living out of the area, and resides with her husband, Howard, in Spring Garden Township.

No comments: