Sustaining “Radical Hope” for a More Equitable World
For the second consecutive year, St. Stephen’s hosted its “Radical Hope” diversity conference, which was open to all regional ISAS-member school students and teachers, as well as members of the larger Austin community.
The annual conference is the brainchild of alumna Riley Nichols ’19 and Yvonne Adams, director of equity and inclusion, who has guided our community’s work in this area for more than a decade. She was joined at the Feb. 22 program by more than 180 students, faculty, staff and parents representing a wide range of affinity groups and their allies, including 72 St. Stephen’s school members.
Co-facilitators Rodney Glasgow, Ph.D., and John Gentile returned to lead the conference, which they helped launch last year with Adams. The 2020 program offered completely new learning opportunities for participants, as Glasgow and Gentile strive to focus on current “hot button issues” in our culture.
“We wanted to discuss what’s important right now, so we spent a lot of time talking about whistle blowing and allyship — taking a proactive stance, rather than just being reactive to a situation,” Adams explained. In addition, since the program was held during Black History Month, the organizers made a point of weaving important facts about prominent African-Americans into the various conference sessions.
Adams said a highlight of the daylong program was witnessing students finding their voice. “Hearing the students share their personal stories and say they believe it is possible to create a new way of being in community gave me hope,” she said. “They exhibited power and strength in a way that gives me hope for the future.”