Expanding Equity:  Pinewood’s DEI Committee

Christina Tanase, News Writer

Sarah Prestwood
(Makena Matula)

   Although Pinewood’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee has experienced changes in the past year, it is anything but new. 

   Established in 2019, the committee aspires to create an inclusive community where individuality is honored and each member feels a sense of belonging. As of now, Pinewood’s Upper Campus remains the only campus with a complete DEI committee, while the Lower and Middle Campus have a director.

    “The committee as a whole, we work to evaluate the community needs, identify relevant partners, and promote campus community values,” Head of Upper Campus and DEI Committee member Gabriel Lemmon said.

   Pinewood’s Upper Campus remains the only campus with a complete DEI committee, led by DEI Consultant Ramon Javier and, formerly, DEI Director Jackee Bruno. The DEI committee consists of staff and administration members including Gabriel Lemmon, Haley Hemm, Olivia Bradley, Carolyn Siegel, Eric Schreiber, Rob Bergenstock, Sarah Prestwood, Jyoti Sicina and Stephanie Fugita.

Haley Hemm (Makena Matula)

   When Bruno left Pinewood last school year, it introduced new priorities to the committee.

    “With Jackee leaving, now the DEI committee’s role is to continue the vision statement we came up with, Ramon and Jackee to make sure that we are working towards it,” Hemm said. 

       Although goals are not set in stone, the committee wants to focus on professional development surrounding DEI for the committee itself, along with other faculty and staff during the 22-23 school year. 

   “[The DEI Committee] is doing our own [professional development], while meeting the needs of the community,” Lemmon said.

   The committee aims to continue celebrating different cultures in the Pinewood community through traditions such as the Diwali celebration or through potential implementation of  affinity groups. They would also like to restructure the committee, taking the absence of a director into account. 

   “We thought it was really important to keep the committee going with the interest of concerns around diversity and inclusivity,” Fugita said.

Stephanie Fugita (Makena Matula)

   After Bruno departed last spring, the committee began searching for someone to step into the DEI head position. With Bruno gone, the entire committee is now in charge of fulfilling the responsibilities the former director held. The current approach of the committee is to split these obligations among all of its members.

   Committee members emphasized that they want to take this process slowly, taking thought and time to pick out their next director.  

   “It definitely needs to be someone who has the cultural competency to help move Pinewood forward in the right way,” Lemmon said. “It would be someone that would meet us where we are and help inspire us to move forward.”