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Statement from the Chatham Hall Board of Trustees

Dear Chatham Hall Community Members,

We, the Chatham Hall Board of Trustees, are both saddened and concerned by accounts of injustice, including racism,at Chatham Hall. Racism, discrimination, and injustice are contradictory to Chatham Hall’s sense of community and commitment to creating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are committed to taking these issues out of the shadows and out of our school as they have no place at Chatham Hall.
Chatham Hall students and all who are connected to our school must feel safe and valued. We acknowledge that we have not done enough to protect all members of our community, beginning with those who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) though certainly not ending there, from experiencing forms of harassment and discrimination. We regret the pain they feel. It is a stark reminder that the work we still have to do is more critical and urgent than ever.
 
Going forward, we pledge to take specific action to make anti-discrimination and justice an explicit plank of Chatham Hall’s mission and strategic thinking. We commit to ensuring that diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice are specifically highlighted as part of our school’s mission. We also pledge an on-going commitment to learning and questioning our own biases as part of embracing both cross-cultural competency and cultural humility.
 
Chatham Hall's strongest asset is its strength of community. We’re a small school built on trust through the Honor Code and Purple and Golden Rule, so when members of our community are harmed, it is the responsibility of everyone to acknowledge their pain and commit, as a community, to honor our rich diversity and build a more inclusive future.  Our heritage in the Episcopal tradition and values of honesty, humility, grace, and compassion help guide us.
 
We ask that our community - students, faculty, staff, alumnae and parents - hold us, the Board of Trustees, accountable to these commitments.
 
We must address racism and all discrimination with a purposeful and strategic response at the Board level, in addition to the crucial work that is being undertaken by the school, under Rector Rachel Connell’s leadership, as indicated most recently in her letter to the community dated July 20, 2020. We know there is much to do. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work has been ongoing for the Board and we continue to listen, learn, and implement further expeditious action. The Board will immediately execute the following:
  • Establish a dedicated, permanent Board committee on DEI. The Board DEI Committee will ensure that a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens is applied across every decision that we make as a Board, including the following actions: be an integral part of the school’s DEI Working Group and work closely with the Board’s Committee on Trustees to re-think the policies on board membership and recruitment.
  • Identify two new board members, who are BIPOC, no later than the first quarter 2021. The Board continues to commit and work towards a composition reflective of our school’s population and values. The Board is resolute in identifying members that advance this goal. A review of our membership processes and policies is underway so that we can achieve this goal.
  • Expand annual training for all Board of Trustee members to include a specific component addressing the topics of unconscious bias, cross-cultural competency, and cultural humility.
  • Commit to annual reaffirmation to support and act in compliance with the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Principles of Good Practice for Equity and Justice.
  • Review and update the school’s mission statement to achieve our goal of equity and inclusion for the entire Chatham Hall community.
  • Reaffirm priority advancement of the DEI agenda in the Rector’s Annual Goals, which she initiated in July 2019 during her first weeks on campus.
We realize that an acknowledgement of the hurt felt by some members of our Chatham Hall community is only a first step, and we, the Board of Trustees, pledge to show our commitment to change through our actions. This is important work to support everyone in the Chatham Hall community and to ensure a bright future for our school. In this letter, we have set out our immediate actions; there will be more to come as we add more specificity to our plan and timeline.
 
It is time to move forward with mindful, sensitive, and decisive discussions to help us toward the inclusive and equitable Chatham Hall community that we all want and deserve.
 
Esto Perpetua,
 
Sarah Monarchi Longpré ‘84
Chair of the Board of Trustees


Board of Trustees
Nina Johnson Botsford ’72
Kate Bulkley ’77
Donie Martin Carlson ’87, P’18
Alison Carter-Cady ’91
Judy Carter ’63
Sarah Collie ’85
Olga Faison P’21
Jane Garnett ’73
Melanie Kirk Holton ’87
Mary Kay Karzas ’71
Andy Lee P’20
Jennifer Gammill McKay ’84, P’20
Mary Reynolds ’84
John Runnells P’19
Jay Secor
Robin Peake Stuart ’69
Michelle Thomas Supko ’02
Laurie Trexler P’17, P’20
Hunt Whitehead P’22

Designated Board Representatives
Jennifer Bamigboye ’03, Alumnae Council President
Jenny Denny P’21, Parent Advisory Council President
Back
An all girls boarding and day school in Southern Virginia, Chatham Hall prepares girls for college and for productive lives. Our innovative academic program offers Advanced Placement courses, global study and travel, as well as project based learning. Our athletic teams regularly compete at the State level and our exceptional riding program is nationally recognized. We foster the intellect and character of each student and, through our Honor Code, live in a community of trust. Grounded in its Episcopal heritage, the school welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.  
800 Chatham Hall Circle | Chatham, VA 24531 | 434.432.2941 | admission@chathamhall.org