Equity networks celebrate awareness, unity, support
Nearly 100 ACSA members in the association’s African American Women Leaders and Asian and Pacific Islander Leaders networks in Southern California recently enjoyed separate events that provided an opportunity for empowerment, motivation, awareness and mentoring to support their careers.
Spearheaded by ACSA leaders Patricia Brent Sanco, Leslie Lockhart and LaShon Rayford, the African American Women Leaders Network aspires to create a community of diverse educational leaders skilled in addressing the needs of African American students and dedicated to increasing the number of highly effective African American women administrators. The goal is to establish the network in Regions 14, 15 and 16 before expanding statewide.
Most recently, the group engaged in various activities, including table talks on understanding their core values, as well as focusing on the “pyramid to success.”
ACSA’s Diversity and Equal Access Executive Nicole Anderson shared some words of encouragement and informed the group of the support system that exists and is expanding to serve their needs. The group also discussed ways in which the network can propel and inspire each woman.
Ideas included ongoing networking events, mentoring, coaching, and outreach for leadership roles in ACSA for African American women. The common theme shared among the women was their strong connection to faith and spirituality, which they gather strength from to sustain them throughout their career journeys.
During the meeting, the group also reflected upon the challenges that exist in their careers, including the experience of the “concrete ceiling.” This refers to obstacles experienced by African American women in seeking to move up the pipeline to the superintendency.
The group was reminded of the harsh reality that only eight of 1,000 districts in California are led by African American women superintendents. However, the group was encouraged to know there are more intentional efforts to diversify the workforce by districts and even superintendent search firms through outreach to African American women.
The leaders challenged themselves to take bold steps toward empowerment as leaders and leading for equity.
Chau joins API leaders
Topics of discussion for the Asian and Pacific Islander Leaders Network included how to empower their voices, as well as how to support their career aspirations.
One of the highlights of the event was a keynote presentation by Assemblyman Ed Chau, who shared his life experiences as a former school board member, engineer, judge, lawyer and broadcaster.
His passion for public service began as a young sociology major at USC. He also gave insight to some of the important propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot, including the significance of bilingual education.
Chau encouraged the group to continue to pursue the career path in educational leadership and be aware of the fact that board members and district leadership are looking to diversify the workforce.
The group was also serenaded on ukulele, played by longtime ACSA member and Pacific Islander leader in LACOE, Victor Thompson.
In addition to being inspired by Chau’s keynote and Thompson’s music, the group also shared valuable insight with ACSA Member Services Director Margarita Cuizon on ways ACSA can support Asian and Pacific Islander leaders and students. The group shared their experiences in reflecting on the stereotypes that exist about them and discussing ways to avoid perpetuating them as leaders. These included the notion of being soft spoken and not aspiring to branch out into leadership roles.
Even more, the group reflected on the notion of truly focusing on equity through acknowledging the diverse ethnic backgrounds of people who are often lumped together into one “Asian” category. For example, the group was reminded that Pacific Islanders are a group small in numbers but growing at a high rates. One of 10 Pacific Islanders graduate from college and are often acknowledged only for their gifts in athletics and dance.
The group shared ideas about initiatives to better support them. These included offering mentoring and coaching, as well as outreach for leadership roles on committees. It was also suggested that ACSA host more events and professional development focused on the needs of students and leaders of Asian and Pacific Islander decent.
These two powerful networks of leaders left feeling inspired and excited about staying connected with colleagues who share similar experiences. They also challenged themselves to take risks and put themselves out there to lead the work and serve as role models for students in California.
The recent networking events were sponsored by Generation Ready, which is also facilitating Equity Institutes around the state. Visit ACSA's Equity Project page for more information about these events.