The Institutional Culture Committee (ICC) is a new Standing Board Committee of the Grace Church School Board of Trustees. In keeping with the tradition at Grace Church School, the ICC is comprised of members from across the many constituencies of the school, including, starting in the fall of 2020, two students in our high school division.
The ICC has grown out of the four years of strategic planning led by the Board’s Diversity Structures Task Force and is an example of the Board’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and, more recently, antiracism. The task force has also written the Diversity Mission Statement for the school and guided the Board to create the Office of Community Engagement and the position of Dean of Equity and Inclusion. It established accountability measures like annual reports of hiring and admissions data to ensure that the school was making progress towards its antiracist aspirations, and it mandated professional development in antiracism for faculty and staff as a prerequisite for their contract renewal. The Task Force’s focus this year was to ensure that its priorities and purview became a permanent part of the Board’s governing structures. And so the Task Force’s last act was to create the charter of the committee that would replace it:
The Institutional Culture Committee seeks to foster an active ethical consciousness in the Grace Church School community. It aspires for the school to build a culture that embodies our highest ideals relating to diversity, inclusion, and belonging; to antiracism; to sustainability; and to the myriad issues of social justice and oppression we cannot yet even foresee. Grace’s goal is not to teach individuals how to be exceptions to biased and inequitable systems. More importantly, it is to empower all members of the Grace community to transform those systems by becoming change agents for justice and compassion—both in the School and the world beyond its walls.
The ICC held its first meeting in May, before it formally came into being. Led by Co-Chairs Renée Noel and Barbara Sibley, the committee partnered with the Parents of Diverse Cultural Backgrounds to host an open discussion responding to the killing of George Floyd. They met again on June 18 and July 7 to discuss the @blackatgrace stories, and meetings are planned to continue throughout the summer. The ICC welcomes everyone to join in these conversations. As a safe space to listen, lament, ask questions and learn, these meetings are an invaluable resource for our community, and we hope they can be a place where we can pledge to do our part in dismantling the systems that perpetuate racism in our world, our city and, yes, at our school.