Saint Mary's Launches Lasallian Institute for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Hosted by the Office of Mission, Kalmanovitz School of Education, and CILSA, in July, Saint Mary's launched a new formation and professional development program integrating information about the Lasallian charism with strategies for advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Supported in part by the Christian Brothers Conference in Washington, D.C., and the San Francisco New Orleans District, the program invited participants from across the Lasallian network in the United States. 

“Our hope was to have a cohort of 15, and we closed the registration at double that in order to accommodate all the interest,” said Frances Sweeney ’86, PhD, Vice President for Mission. “We had a design team of Lasallians from across the country, and our goal was to study how inclusion has been a genuine part of the Lasallian mission for over 300 years, and to provide tools and strategies for participants to take back to their own schools.”

Jennifer Pigza, Director of CILSA, served as the director of the institute, which began each morning at 8:30 with prayer, then input into the Lasallian heritage and DEIB sessions; and ended each night at 7:30 p.m. with a critical reflection on the day, followed by an engaging and entertaining social hour. “Each participant brought questions, case studies, and an individual project, so the days were really full with presentations, workshops, and community time,” said Pigza. “It was a very powerful week in which each member really shared, and it showed the heartfelt commitment of Lasallian educators to truly create spaces where all of our students, as well as colleagues and families, feel affirmed. We transform their lives because we believe in who they are and let them know they belong.”