Lasallian Institute for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Lasallian Institute for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Lasallian Institute for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Join us in Moraga next summer!

2024 dates forthcoming.


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The goals of the Institute are to deepen our understanding of the why and how of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), ground this work within our Lasallian charism, cultivate both personal and professional practices for advancing equity, and join other Lasallians in this critical human pursuit towards faith, justice, peace, and love.  

We believe that the question, “What does it mean to be a Lasallian Catholic school in the 21st century?” must be answered in part with a commitment to affirming each person and holding space for courageous conversations, always with an aim towards belonging and fullness. This Institute is intended to be a brave and sacred place for every participant, and the facilitators, to continue their own work as Lasallian educators. 

The Institute is open to all Lasallian educators.

We appreciate the support from the Christian Brothers Conference, the San Francisco New Orleans District, and the Kalmanovitz School of Education, Office of Mission, and the Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action (CILSA) at Saint Mary's College of California.


Institute Overview

The Institute is an integrated, intentional, and participatory week including exploration of key content, group work, individual reflection, and case study application. Additionally, prior to the Institute, participants will identify personal projects which they will workshop during the Institute and implement after returning home.

In the spirit of Lasallian gatherings, the Institute also has ample time for camaraderie, hospitality, and getting to know our ministries. The Institute is designed to blend group engagement, individual learning, and a theory-to-practice approach to advancing equity, inclusion, and belonging.



About two weeks prior to the Institute, participants will receive a link to pre-readings, institute materials, and a contact list. You will also at that time communicate dietary needs, accommodations, and roommate preferences. Here's the scheduled for last summer's Institute. It will be adjusted for 2024, this provides a sense of how you will be spending your time.

  • Sunday, July 9, 2023: Travel day; check into residence halls. Mass and social on Sunday evening. Participants will be staying on campus, in air-conditioned suites, in single rooms, with a shared bath. Linens are provided.
  • Monday, July 10, 2023, 11:30am-8:30pm: Continue arriving and checking into residence halls; the program officially begins at 11:30am with a welcome, lunch, and prayer. The day will end by 8:30pm.
  • Tuesday through Thursday, July 11-13, 2023, 8:30am-8:30pm: 
    • The mornings begin with prayer, followed by interactive sessions.
    • The facilitators will explore foundational links between the Lasallian charism and equity and inclusion aims. We will also build specific knowledge and practices that advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
    • Time is also dedicated to case study workshops and individual projects in small teams and with a mentor. 
    • Each day there will be time to take a break to relax and rejuvenate, use the rec center, walk, socialize, nap.
    • After dinner, participants will have reflection and synthesis, a closing prayer, and social time.
  • Friday, July 14, 2023, 8:30am-12:30pm: Participants will check out of housing and gather for a final closing session. Grab-and-go lunch will be available.



We aim to make the Institute as affordable as possible. We anticipate that the fee for 2024 will be approximately $1400/person. The fee includes meals, lodging, materials, and facilitation. 



Check back here for a registration link. In the meantime, please mail questions to Jennifer M. Pigza, Associate Provost and Executive Director of CILSA,

Planning Team 

Jamal Adams

Jamal Adams is the Principal at La Salle College Preparatory School in Pasadena, California. Prior to joining the Lasallian community, Jamal served Loyola High School of Los Angeles as its Director of Equity and Inclusion and Director of Faculty. As Director of Equity and Inclusion, he instituted programs and projects that centered on deepening a culture of belonging on campus across affinity groups, with parents-guardians, and other stakeholders from the community. In 2019, he joined the Jesuits West Provincial Leadership Team for Organizing which expanded his platform of equity and inclusion to include collaboration with the Ignatian Solidarity Network of Jesuit Education and the development of the Collaborative Organizing for Racial Equity. He is the co-author of an essay “Teaching as a Practice Rooted in Black Brotherhood” featured in an anthology entitled  Teaching Black: The Craft of Teaching on Black Life and Literature published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. In addition to his publication, he is the co-host of a podcast “Just Conversations: Race, Faith, and Catholic Education” sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Jamal holds degrees in Economics (Columbia University) and Education (Loyola Marymount University)



Sarah Laitinen, MA

Sarah Laitinen, MA, is the director of Lasallian programs in the Office for Lasallian Education at Christian Brothers Conference in Washington, DC. Following her graduation from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Sarah served as a Lasallian Volunteer at The San Miguel School in Providence, Rhode Island for two years and was hired as the sixth grade teacher in 2009. Since joining the Office for Lasallian Education in 2016, Sarah works with the following Regional formation and education programs: the Buttimer Institute of Lasallian Studies, the Brother John Johnston Institute of Contemporary Lasallian Practice, the Lasallian Social Justice Institute, the Huether Lasallian Conference and partners with the Lasallian Association of Secondary School Chief Administrators on their annual conference.


KSOE Dean Carol Ann Gittens

Carol Ann Gittens, PhD

Carol Ann Gittens, PhD, is the Dean of the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary's College of California. Gittens received her PhD in psychology from the University of California at Riverside.  Her scholarly focus is on the critical thinking, numeracy, motivation, and academic achievement of adolescents and young adults from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  She is an experienced consultant and trainer, working with college administrators, faculty and staff, and TK-12 educators to inspire curricular and programmatic excellence, responsiveness, and relevance to local and broad-reaching communities, leadership, collaboration, and commitment to inclusion and equity.


Ernest j miller

Ernest J. Miller, FSC, D.Min., M.A.

Ernest J. Miller, FSC, D.Min., M.A., serves as the founding Director for The Adrien Nyel Project, most recently serving as Vice President of Mission, Diversity & Inclusion at La Salle University. In his role as the Director, Brother Ernest will assess the formative needs of the Lasallian educator, creating programs and curriculums centered on the vocation of the teacher with renewed commitment to the formation and accompaniment of young teachers. Brother Ernest has worked with educators and students alike, inside and outside the classroom, to grasp the long arc of the Lasallian story.


Jennifer Pigza
Jennifer M. Pigza, PhD is the director of the Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action (CILSA) and adjunct assistant professor of leadership at Saint Mary’s College of California. Jennifer’s scholarship and practice explore equity-based teaching and learning and higher education’s responsibility to advance justice and equity. At Saint Mary's, her service includes the College Committee for Inclusive Excellence and is the founder of the Learning Community on Whiteness. She is on the board for the Place-Based Justice Network which aims to transform higher education and our communities by deconstructing systems of oppression through place-based community engagement. She recently published We Are the Leaders We’ve Been Looking For: Facilitating Women & Leadership Development (2021, with Julie Owen).


Frances Sweeney
Frances M. Sweeney, PhD, is a Professor of Spanish and the Vice President for Mission at Saint Mary’s College of California. Her recent emphasis is on advancing the liberal arts, Lasallian Catholic mission and its critical intersection with diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. At Saint Mary’s she helped launch the Afro-Latinx/Latinx/Indigenous People's Action Committee (ALLIPAS) and the Committee for Interfaith and Religious Cooperation, Learning, and Engagement (CIRCLE).


Alexsandra Walton
Alexsandra Walton, MA, is the Director for Inclusion and Belonging at Saint Mary’s College High School in Berkeley, California. Alex grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from Holy Names High School. She graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in History, and then John F. Kennedy University, with an MA in Sport Psychology. Following the completion of the program, Alex continued her work with Oakland Unified School District. She took on the role of a Community School Manager at a K-5 school supporting families and students with their social-emotional needs, academic needs, and basic needs. After 10 years in the district, she moved to Saint Mary’s College High School as the Director of Integral Programs where she leaned on her Social Emotional Learning, Restorative Justice, and graduate school training to imagine out and grow SMCHS’s programming and support their students. This year, Alex took on a new role of Director of Inclusion and Belonging focusing on bringing a community together after an extremely unpredicted year. In addition to this role, she teaches African History and Perspectives on Diversity. Alex has been married to her college sweetheart for 21 years and is the mother of 3 sons. Her twins are currently in their second year at Chapman University and New York University, and her youngest is a freshman at Saint Mary’s College High school in Berkeley. She is also a first-year doctoral student in educational leadership at Saint Mary’s College.