Virginia Diversity Network
In 2004, Gussie Bannard, Head of School at St. Catherines (1989-2007), and Dr. Kim Ridley, St. Catherine's Diversity Coordinator (2003-2008), articulated a vision of bringing teachers of diverse ethnicity together to talk about their experiences working in independent schools.
This idea expanded to include all those who worked on diversity issues and initiatives in conversation. In the fall of 2004, Dr. Ridley hosted a luncheon at St. Catherine's School, inviting other independent faculty to discuss the state of diversity. Interest in having subsequent meetings was apparent, with talk of the possibility of combining school resources to provide training and educational opportunities for area independent school faculty. Thus, the mission of the group was shaped and documented.
In December, 2005, the annual People of Color Conference, held in Dallas, Texas, presented another opportunity for schools around the Virginia region to gather to further discuss the possibility of a network. Plans were made to meet again at Trinity Episcopal School in February 2006.
In February, it was agreed that the group would host a monthly meeting at various schools. Though each school was responsible for planning their meeting, many relied on Dr. Ridley for assistance as she was the only Diversity Director in the Richmond area at that time.
By the fall of 2006, the network was meeting on a regular basis, and the need for shared responsibility for each event was evident. The first board was formed by the spring of 2007 with Dr. Ridley serving as President. Board duties consisted of sharing the responsibility for program development, fund raising, school communications, resource provision, and increasing program participation.
The Virginia Diversity Network now includes both day and boarding schools from the Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Virginia Beach. In 2014, the organization entered into a partnership with the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.