A passionate leader and teacher, Ms. Rhonda Brown, joins the school as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
After spending some time working for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in Los Angeles, Ms. Brown returned to her hometown of suburban Philadelphia over a year ago, looking to find a place where she could make a direct impact on a community close to home.
“[Quarantining] gave me a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do, how I could make an impact, where I thought my skills would be best used, and I thought about independent schools,” Ms. Brown said.
As Ms. Brown’s daughter is a Penn Charter graduate, she always saw herself taking a role there when the time was right.
“I had a running joke with the guy who has the diversity role at Penn Charter… He would say, ‘I’m not ready to retire yet, so you have to wait another year or so.’ But one day he said, ‘You know what, I think you should call Haverford because they are looking,’” Ms. Brown said.
After some conversations with student leaders, faculty, and the administration, Ms. Brown knew the school was the right place for her.
“I think Haverford has a good foundation to do diversity work on it. If you practice the core virtues, they will create an environment that is diverse, open to change, and that will support the principles of diversity.”Ms. Rhonda Brown
“I think Haverford has a good foundation to do diversity work on it. If you practice the core virtues, they will create an environment that is diverse, open to change, and that will support the principles of diversity,” Ms. Brown said.
In addition to the school’s virtues, Ms. Brown deeply values her relationships with the head of school.
“It is really important that your diversity person be connected with your head of school and that your vision aligns, and so I’m really excited to begin with [Mr. Tyler Casertano],” Ms. Brown said. “I like where he wants to go and how he values this stuff.”
Ms. Brown’s passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion came about after she attended law school.
“This concept of rights and equity has always been a passion for me,” Ms. Brown said. “When affirmative action and diversity work started to become something, it was a way for me to take what I knew legally and those skill sets that I developed, and put them into a way to actually apply it to common life and help things become better at an easier level.”
Ms. Brown’s passion and skill for diversity work took her to large research institutions, including the University of Notre Dame and Temple University, as well as small private liberal arts colleges like Albright College and the College of the Holy Cross.
Ms. Brown’s 25-year career includes working as a bias identifier with the Massachusetts Testing Association and serving on the Diversity Committee for two Massachusetts governors. Ms. Brown also developed a certificate program in diversity leadership for Temple University’s College of Education.
After years working at the collegiate level, Ms. Brown grew troubled by how most students did not start learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion until their high school years at the earliest.
“I want to work with the lower school kids to work on an up-stander program. So, we would talk about being good friends, being supportive, being courageous, and being brave.”Ms. Rhonda Brown
“My thought process is, maybe we should step back a bit, and let’s pay some attention to lower school and let’s pay some attention to middle school,” Ms. Brown said. “I want to work with the lower school kids to work on an upstander program. So, we would talk about being good friends, being supportive, being courageous, and being brave.”
When it comes to middle school, Ms. Brown plans to reach the boys in a more mature, but effective way.
“I’d like upper school boys to help me create this novel for middle school boys—what their experiences were in middle school, and how we can address them differently.”
Ms. Brown emphasizes the school’s brotherhood.
“I want to instill at an earlier stage how we support each other, how we stand up, and what this brotherhood really means. I think you all get brotherhood in upper school, but I think you could get it earlier. And if you got it earlier, just think about how much more advanced that concept could be and how much deeper you all could be in your relationships with each other.”
Aside from her passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Ms. Brown sees herself participating in a few other clubs and hobbies on campus.
“I’m an avid gardener, so I like to grow things,” Ms. Brown said. “And I understand that you all have a beehive, and that is kind of interesting to me. I always thought it would be cool to keep bees, so maybe I could play with the bees a little bit.”