San Francisco Friends School educates children in Kindergarten through Grade 8 in the tradition of Quaker learning. Both a young school, in the middle of its second decade, and old, part of a 325-year tradition of Friends education, San Francisco Friends School (SFFS) nurtures students’ aspirations and excellence in academics and character. As one of two Quaker schools west of the Mississippi, SFFS is distinctive amongst independent schools in the Bay Area and Friends schools nationally. At SFFS, teachers, coaches, and advisors design and facilitate hands-on and minds-on student experiences in math, science, and sports; in the arts, humanities, and Spanish; and in reflection and service. The Quaker traditions, woven in with a progressive pedagogical approach create a program that is intellectually rigorous and engaging, while helping students to develop a strong sense of self and community. Along the way, faculty and staff seize every opportunity to learn in and from San Francisco and the community within the Mission District while embracing the school’s responsibility to contribute.
Head of School, Panki Sevak, is in her first year and brings a new and dynamic energy and longstanding commitment to Quaker education to SFFS. As she has learned more about the school’s hopes and aspirations and reflected that back to the community, there is recognition that the school community is ready to both expand and deepen its efforts to be a truly inclusive institution and is excited to seek its first Director of Institutional Equity and Belonging to begin July 2023. Reporting directly to the Head of School and as a member of the Senior Leadership Team, the inaugural Director will provide strategic leadership and vision for the SFFS community
Opportunities and Challenges
• Establishing an inaugural position. This will be the SFFS’s first senior-level administrator charged with leading and guiding DEIB efforts. As an inaugural position, there are many hopes and aspirations around the role and room for whomever inhabits the position to help to shape and define it. The School is poised for the work ahead with a committed and engaged Board, administration, faculty and parent community, and ongoing efforts to support all students in feeling they belong. The Director for Institutional Equity and Belonging will be responsible for aligning, assessing, and refining initiatives in progress while collaborating with all constituencies to develop an aspirational as well as measurable equity and inclusion vision for the future. This is an exciting opportunity to shape the future of the school.
• Grounding the work in Quaker values. This is a school that truly strives to “walk the walk” of its Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality/equity and stewardship (SPICES). Community members refer to these values and have learned to expect themselves and others to embody them not only in Meetings for Worship or Meetings for Business, but also in the classroom, on the field, and on the playground. The Director for Institutional Equity and Belonging will need to have an understanding of and respect for a pedagogy grounded in a spiritual practice as they explore how a Quaker education can work in service to equity and justice. The work of DEIB is well aligned with the testimonies, and as a faculty member reflected, “The testimonies guide the work, but they are not the work.”
Providing direction while supporting and strengthening existing efforts and structures. Since its founding there have been three committees within the community that convene to support the work for DEIB: The E & I (Equity & Inclusion) Board Steering Committee, The E & I Faculty E Committee, and E & I Parent Committee. Each committee has engaged in earnest reflection, learning, and action, and the groups are eager for better integration, with a shared vision, direction, and support. As one faculty member reflected, “There’s a lot of amazing DEIB work that has happened and is happening. The work is and will be owned by many. We need coordination, alignment, and direction.”
• Joining the school leadership team. SF Friends is a relatively young school entering its next phase of development with a new head of school and an institutional readiness for more systems and consistency in its administrative practices. The Director of Institutional Equity and Belonging will look at structures, systems, and practices through a DEIB lens and help surface areas for further study. “I’m eager to have another thought partner,” shared one administrator. Of particular priority are:
• Curriculum – The school’s faculty and administration are working to design a process for reviewing curriculum with an eye towards equity and belonging. The Director of Institutional Equity and Belonging will support faculty in developing a K-8 scope and sequence for student DEIB learning.
• Admission and Enrollment – The pandemic has changed the demographics of San Francisco, and this has affected the demographics of many independent schools, including SFFS. While the school has been steady in its commitment to a diverse student body through policies, such as its adjustable tuition program and support for Spanish speaking families, the addition of the Director of Institutional Equity and Belonging to the administrative team will allow for even more strategic outreach and most consistent and systematic support for the families that are part of the community.
• Hiring and Retention – SFFS recognizes that a key element to students and families feeling a sense of belonging is having its faculty and staff reflect the many facets of the community. The Director of Institutional Equity and Belonging will partner with administrators and faculty to find ways to continue to attract, recruit, develop, and retain a qualified, diverse faculty and staff.
Qualifications and Personal Attributes
• Joy and enthusiasm for working in schools and with children in grades K-8;
• Ability to listen deeply, build trust and communicate clearly and effectively to a range of constituents;
• Approachable to adults and students;
• A highly relational and communicative DEIB practitioner who is experienced and skilled in working with, supporting, and providing accountability for administrative colleagues, faculty, and staff and the gravitas and experience to work with parents and Board;
• An orientation to think, lead, and act at both the strategic and operational levels and the ability to manage both the details and the larger picture in a highly collaborative and reflective community;
• A strong eye for talent and the ability to contribute to the recruitment and retention of a diverse and aligned faculty and staff;
• A team builder, educator, and mentor who calls individuals into the work, supports their development, and deploys them aligned to their strengths and roles and responsibilities;
• Experience working in a Friends School or a sincere interest in learning about the Quaker values central to the mission of the school;
• A collaborative, confident and humble leader with energy, a sense of humor, and a commitment to self-care.
Interested and qualified candidates are invited to contact the consultants in confidence. Candidates will ultimately need to submit the following materials as separate PDF documents:
• A cover letter expressing their interest in this particular position;
• A current résumé;
• A list of five professional references with name, relationship, phone number, and email address of each (references will not be contacted without the candidate’s permission); and
• Responses to writing prompts that will be shared with candidates upon expression of interest.
Jennifer Wong Christensen Senior Search Consultant firstname.lastname@example.org Chaya Keefe Search Consultant email@example.com