Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Social Justice (DEIS)

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The Athenian School


LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITY Start: July 1, 2021, Danville, CA

Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Social Justice (DEIS)

Mission & Round Square Pillars

Athenian’s Mission

The Athenian School prepares students for the rigorous expectations of college and for a life of purpose and personal fulfillment. We offer a challenging academic program with a difference: intellectual inquiry is active, learning is interactive, the disciplines are interrelated, and analysis and creativity thrive simultaneously. The acquisition of knowledge becomes authentic and joyous.

We cultivate the personal qualities of each student to become an integrated human being with integrity, strong moral character, aesthetic sensitivity, and physical well being. The Athenian community requires students to face life directly through open communication, while developing their inner strength to exceed their perceived potential and emerge compassionate, responsible adults.

We instill an appreciation of the reciprocal relationship between the individual and cultures, society and the natural world. We value the power and beauty of multiculturalism within our diverse community. We embrace the principles of democratic governance, stewardship of the environment, respect for human dignity, and service as a way of life.

By providing an atmosphere of intellectual, artistic, and physical challenge within the warmth of a nurturing community, we develop in our students the confidence and skills required to meet the complexities of their future.

Round Square Pillars

Athenian is a founding member of Round Square (described later in this document); as such, the Pillars of Round Square are a foundational piece of Athenian’s core values. Round Square is an international consortium of schools that share a commitment, beyond academics, to programs and educational opportunities that are designed to educationally integrate the following six Pillars:

  1. Internationalism
  2. Democracy
  3. Environmentalism
  4. Adventure
  5. Leadership
  6. Service


The Athenian Way

The Athenian School was founded in 1965 by Dyke Brown, a student of experiential education leader Kurt Hahn. Dyke envisioned a school in the image of Periclean Athens – the full development of each citizen. Intellectual growth, fitness of body and character, commitment to humane values, aesthetic sensitivity, and readiness for adult citizenship and leadership are Athenian’s objectives for each student. Nearly 53 years later, Athenian’s ideals have become a model for education with a strong reputation, robust enrollment, and healthy finances.

Respect for student ideas and leadership runs deep and, to reflect our value of equality and mutual respect, all community members are on a first-name basis. To foster intrinsic motivation, we do not give academic or other awards. 

The Athenian School was built on 75 acres of idyllic land at the foot of Mt. Diablo. Founded as a boarding high school, Athenian continues to be a 24/7 community of learners. In 1979, the Middle School was added, accepting day students in grades six through eight. The demand for an Athenian education from the local community prompted the School to begin admitting more day students in the 1970s, and the School made a transition from its start as a boarding school to primarily a day community. Today, the School is 85% day students yet remains a proud boarding institution. More than 140 people live on campus, including students, faculty, staff, children, and their pets. The residential community gathers regularly on and off campus for meals and fun activities. The informal opportunities to spend time with boarding students, colleagues, and residential families foster a warm environment, creating a home away from home for our boarding students. Along with many new facilities and a larger number of day students, Athenian remains a close-knit, thriving learning community.

The Athenian School is 30 miles east of San Francisco, nestled among the Danville, Diablo, and Blackhawk communities. Danville is known for its small-town atmosphere and quality of life, including highly rated public elementary schools. Athenian’s land opens up to wild space on Mt. Diablo for outdoor adventure in our backyard. A massive solar array provides over seventy-five percent of the School’s power and is just one of many ways Athenian strives to be a green campus. Our proximity to Silicon Valley, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco provides endless opportunities for dining, cultural, and social experiences. 

At Athenian, the rigorous academic program is delivered in a way that resonates and remains with students throughout their lives—because children learn by doing. By applying what is learned in the class to real world situations, Athenian students construct meaning out of research opportunities, realistic lab activities, critical thinking exercises, and fact-based analysis. Whether in or out of the classroom, this approach allows students to incorporate their learning with their living, laying a strong foundation for a life of intellectual exploration and meaningful contribution.

The Athenian Experience

In classes that average 15 students, Athenian’s Upper School and Middle School faculty enliven the classroom with their love of teaching and learning. They engage students and awaken their imaginations by making connections, getting to know them, and guiding them in the direction that best suits their interests and ambitions. At Athenian, students see life as an intellectual adventure and proudly shine under the academic spotlight. Athenians are explorers; students discover uncharted territory in and out of the classroom, seeking out new approaches and perspectives. 

All students take fine arts, world language, humanities (literature and history), math, science, and PE classes. In the Middle School, students take core classes on Monday through Thursday. Every Friday is a Focus Day, a day-long project-based and experiential lesson that ties together student learning across disciplines and fosters both the soft and hard skills our students need. In the Upper School, students’ weekly schedules currently include a block rotation of short and long period classes, community service period, health classes, community and democratic town meetings, and advisory. 

In addition to our core curriculum, Middle School students take electives including athletic team practices, creative writing, photography, airplane making and more. Upper School students have a wide range of electives from which to choose, including engineering and design, performing arts, entrepreneurship, internships, teaching assistant roles, and independent studies. We are proud to be a member of the Bay Area BlendEd Consortium which offers a set of blended classes combining face-to-face and online instruction bringing together students from four other Bay Area independent high schools. 

Athenian cultivates each individual’s strengths and passions. The opportunities to explore leadership, social justice, equity and inclusion, world cultures, outdoor adventure, global perspectives, service, and personal passions are endless. Students are encouraged to participate in the governance of the school through democratic Town Meetings and student government, leading community service projects, and establishing clubs around areas of interest. Positive experiences with depth and breadth occur naturally for our students with a certain inevitability. 

Athenian is a vibrant, innovative, and values-based school. Parents report they are very satisfied with the educational experiences their children are receiving, both in and out of the classroom; teachers consider it a privilege to work on a campus that not only states a mission, but lives it; and students thrive in a joyful, dynamic, and engaging learning environment. The Director of Teaching and Learning will lead a school representing a diverse spectrum in gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomics, religion and politics. Given our commitment to equity and inclusion, the cultural competency of all our adults is integral to our mission. 

Focus Days 

Focus Days are a signature and defining component of the Athenian Middle School experience. Every Friday, the Middle School breaks from its daily schedule for daylong activities that bring together elements from multiple disciplines; this allows for experiential and interdisciplinary education, deep intellectual investigation, and collaborative learning. Focus Days are tied directly to the work being done in core classes and allow students to cement their learning. Focus Days take many forms such as field trips, science labs, history simulations, and community service. Themes range from Salon Day (role-playing historical figures) to Pool Volume Day (mathematics, science, and collaborative problem solving).

The Athenian Wilderness Experience (AWE)

As part of our commitment to developing empathy, resilience, and an appreciation for and comfort in the outdoors, our students participate in a required 26-day backpacking trip during their junior year in either the High Sierras or Death Valley. Learning to collaborate, problem-solve, and empathize, students work together to navigate off-trail terrain, cook group meals, rock climb, and set up camp. Our entire community is affected by this program, as the students’ absence is felt by all; they return with energy, inner confidence, and new perspectives that infuse the school community at large. One of several rites of passages, AWE is a central part of the Athenian experience that exists free from technology, routine, homework, and other daily responsibilities. 

Engineering and Design

Athenian has come to be a leader in the maker movement, combining curriculum and machinery for hands-on learning opportunities. Students discover how to create and make through classes in the fine arts, sciences, and increasingly humanities. Upper School students can work in Athenian’s Maker Studio in science and engineering classes, Athenian’s robotics collective, and the airplane project (where yes, our students build real, skyworthy airplanes). Students are empowered to innovate, create, make, build, and collaborate as they learn design thinking, shop safety, project-management skills, and an “I can do that!” attitude.

Round Square

Round Square is an international consortium of more than 100 schools that believe that International Understanding, Education for Democracy, Environmental Stewardship, Adventure, Leadership, and Service are integral to educating students. Upper School students have the opportunity to participate in Round Square activities, including attending an international conference, going on exchange, hosting exchange students who come to Athenian, and participating in service projects around the world. Over 40% of our sophomore class has gone on exchange in recent years, in addition to several dozen students each year participating in other Round Square activities. Our Middle School students participate in a variety of conferences and exchanges through Young Round Square. 


Athenian encourages all of its students to participate and represent the School in interscholastic athletics. The athletics program focuses on developing student-athletes who display good sportsmanship, are positive role models, and follow through on commitment. Stressing team over individual achievement results in teams that have strong social bonds beyond grade levels. Our students participate in athletics in extraordinary numbers, with 83% of our Upper School student body playing in at least one team sport. 

Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Position Description

Context of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (DEIS) at Athenian

DEIS is an intrinsic part of The Athenian School’s DNA. It was the first integrated, co-educational, co-boarding school West of the Mississippi and its first Head of School was a Black man at a time when school integration was a taboo subject in much of the country. However, the school did not have an Office of DEIS in those days, instead leaning on the teacher-student relationship, our position in the Bay Area, and leadership in RoundSquare as an organization that championed internationalism and multiculturalism as one of its key pillars up until the 1990’s. Then, realizing that diversity and inclusion needed a special eye, an office for Diversity and Inclusion was created.  This part-time office quickly grew to a full-time role, evolving into the Office for Equity and Inclusion. During this time Athenian made great strides in measuring inclusion, becoming a leader in Inclusion Dashboard work in the National Association of Independent Schools. In the few years since, however, turnover in the position hasn’t afforded the work the consistent focus it requires.  A study was undertaken in 2020, involving a former Dean of Equity and Inclusion and members of the community (trustee, parent, faculty, and staff members and students) to look at our collected data and suggest a way forward.  Their work resulted in the creation of this more executive and holistic role called the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice.


Position Description

The Athenian School believes that diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice are not special interests, and therefore the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (DEIS) at Athenian is woven throughout every part of the institution including the senior leadership team goals, admissions, throughout the 6-12 curriculum, and in advancement.  We also believe that this is not a job done alone by an individual, but rather that the right person in this role leads a community-wide effort, supported by a team of dedicated community members, around DEIS issues.  

Therefore, the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (DEIS) serves on the Head’s Advisory Committee (i.e. the senior administrative team) and reports directly to the Head of School. Like other Head’s Advisory Committee members, the Director of DEIS must see the job as one serving the well-being of the entire institution.

The Director of DEIS is a leader, collaborator, guide, resource, and facilitator for faculty and students on inclusion. In this capacity, the Director of DEIS will have an integral role in admission, the awarding of financial aid, the transition of students in a summer bridge program, and in furthering the professional development of adults and students through leadership of professional development, as well as membership in various organizations and attendance at meaningful conferences.  

While the Director does have a teaching role (approximately 25%), this is not the primary focus of the position.  Rather, the position is designed to provide support, guidance and accountability to a community that has made a commitment to anti-racism.  

Core Responsibilities

  • Engages the community to build a welcoming and inclusive culture at The Athenian School
  • Leads the DEIS Committee comprised of the Head of School, Chief Operating Officer, and other community members
  • Serves as a central resource for DEIC for The Athenian School community
  • Oversees the Athenian Connect Program, a special two-week long “summer bridge program” for new incoming students, to help both underserved groups and allies build a cohort before the school year begins
  • Conducts annual Inclusion Dashboard Surveys, analyzes results, populates the dashboard, and works with the DEIS Committee to make recommendations for action.
  • Participates in the Teaching and Learning, Professional Development, and Curriculum Committees
  • Supports and advises the community on issues of equity and inclusion
  • Demonstrates leadership and best practices for adults to follow when interacting with all students, and continuously engages students to share their perceptions of equity and inclusion
  • Facilitates dialogue related to equity and justice issues among constituents in the school community
  • Supports the Office of Admissions
  • Serves on Financial Aid Committee
  • Oversees the Athenian Connect Program, a special two-week long “summer bridge program” for new incoming students, to help both underserved groups and allies build a cohort before the school year begins
  • Leads Faculty and Staff DEIS training
  • Supports and oversees the DEIS team
  • Identifies gaps in alignment between the vision of equity and the policies and procedures in place
  • Guides the direction and vision of school programs and events that focus on DEIS

Commitment to the Athenian Mission

The Director of DEIS is responsible for oversight of our DEIS initiatives.   As such, the Director models commitment to the Athenian Mission, our history as a progressive school, the six Pillars of Round Square, and cultural competence. Not only is the Director able to communicate the School’s core qualities and ideals to prospective families, faculty, parents, and students, the Director must embody these qualities and ideals.

What We’re Seeking in a Candidate 

The ideal candidate will embody key elements of the desired expertise, experience, and qualities. This is an aspirational list and we encourage candidates to apply who strive for, but may not currently possess, all of these qualities. 


  • Minimum Bachelor’s degree, although a Masters’ degree is preferred
  • Minimum 5 years working on issues of equity, inclusion, and social justice
  • Preferred minimum of 5 years teaching experience
  • Preferred experience with nationally recognized diversity and inclusion workshop(s) or seminar(s)
  • Experience
    • providing strategic leadership
    • working with diverse faculty and students
    • leading and supervising staff
    • collaboration and consensus building
  • Skilled in analyzing and making sound recommendations on complex interpersonal and administrative issues
  • Strong written, organizational, technological, and communication skills

Candidate Qualities

  • Committed to Athenian’s Mission and values
  • Has impeccable integrity
  • Able to connect with students in grades 6-12
  • Inclusive, collaborative, consensus-building, and decisive in decision making 
  • Ability, as a senior team member, to see the big-picture needs of the school.  
  • Compassionate and empathic with excellent listening skills 
  • Accessible and open-minded, personally interested in community members
  • Open to criticism and personal growth  
  • Innovative 
  • Mentoring and team-building orientation
  • Humility and good humor 

How to Apply

For initial consideration, please email a resume, cover letter, and a one-page educational philosophy statement to Kalyan Balaven, Director of Teaching and Learning (and former Dean of Equity and Inclusion), at Please reference “Athenian Director of DEIS” in the subject line. Sending letters of reference is optional at this time. Confidentiality will be maintained at the candidate’s request until the candidate agrees to be a finalist for the position. Please submit your application materials by December 18th, 2020.

Equal Employment Opportunity

The Athenian School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, faith, sex, gender or gender expression, age, ability, sexual orientation, familial or marital status. The Athenian School is actively seeking to create a more culturally diverse school community and as such, we encourage people of color and members of the LGBTIQ community to apply. Athenian’s salary and benefits are competitive and include medical, vision, and dental insurance, a retirement plan, a smoke-free environment, and a daily prepared lunch. 

The Athenian School’s Commitment to Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Athenian is committed to upholding and protecting the dignity and worth of all people, recognizing everyone’s shared humanity. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice are much more than social principles at Athenian; they are educational imperatives. These imperatives are at the core of Athenian’s philosophy and the School counts on its community members to support this ideal.

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