Diversity & Inclusion at SJA

As a Catholic community of faith, St. Joseph’s Academy is committed to diversity and inclusion.

We reaffirm our conviction that there is no place at SJA for bigotry, cultural intolerance or racism. We believe that ensuring an inclusive and equitable learning environment for all students demands a commitment to compassion, respect, understanding and civility. 

We are working to establish and/or strengthen policies, practices and programs that promote inclusion and enable every young woman to feel welcomed, connected and engaged. We are working to identify and eliminate biases and gaps in our curriculum, campus environment, programs and policies.

St. Joseph’s Academy will embrace open, honest dialogue as we listen, learn and, ultimately, act and lead. While our desired outcomes will not happen overnight, we are committed to an intentional and deliberate journey to bring about meaningful and sustainable change.

In achieving inclusive excellence, we will

  • reach a greater commitment to embodying the mission and vision of the Sisters of St. Joseph; 
  • advance equity, engagement and inclusion in all facets of SJA;
  • enhance respect and mutual understanding among all members of the SJA community;
  • embrace diversity as a means to teach students to journey between the familiar and the unfamiliar with intellectual curiosity and understanding;
  • create an environment in which every student feels she belongs and is affirmed, valued and supported.

Teaching these values flows from the St. Joseph’s Academy mission to educate young women as responsible and unifying members of the world community.

Anti-Racism Statements

SJA Anti-Racism Statement

St. Joseph’s Academy condemns all forms of bias, bigotry, racism and racist acts in the strongest possible terms and is committed to seeking ways to address social injustice through meaningful actions.

Deeply embedded in each of us is a desire for authentic and unvarnished connection. What we know for sure is that a sense of belonging accelerates personal development and academic excellence. Therefore, SJA will not tolerate language, attitudes or behaviors that undermine a school climate that is safe, affirming and supportive for all.

We acknowledge our need to evaluate and strengthen our work to achieve diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. We know that we must do more in order for every student to achieve her full potential. 

This is a pivotal and decisive moment in our history. We are committed to hearing our students, alumnae and parents regarding their experiences in our school community and to engaging in much-needed discussion. We will bring more voices to the table, even when conversations are uncomfortable. We will ensure that lived experiences can be shared openly and that calls for change are heard and acted upon.

Congregation of St. Joseph Anti-Racism Statement

The Congregation of St. Joseph is dedicated to equality. We believe that racism is a blatant sin against the dignity of human persons, each created in the image and likeness of God. Because racism flagrantly obstructs the unioning love that God wills for all, we have dedicated ourselves to work toward rooting out racism from our hearts, from our Congregation and from our world. This reconciling work of justice-making is our participation in the entire Congregation’s promise to network with others across the world to bring about a shift in the global culture from institutionalized power and privilege to a culture of inclusivity and mutuality.

Please continue to return to this page for updates on our ongoing work.

June 4, 2020: St. Joseph’s Academy issued a statement regarding racial inequality, systemic racism and social injustice in our country today. SJA asked for feedback from members of the school community on specific action plans, including guest speakers, panel discussions, events that amplify Black voices and history, networking groups to connect students and alumnae, anti-bias professional development for faculty and staff and parent/student/faculty committees to address concerns.

June 5, 2020: Hundreds of SJA community members responded to the statement, sharing their experiences, perspectives and insight. More than 120 alumnae, parents, students and friends of SJA volunteered to be part of the process moving forward. SJA announced that an advisory group would be formed and a facilitator would be selected.

July 15, 2020: Following a national search, SJA announced that Dr. Katrice Albert had been chosen to lead the school in its work toward achieving inclusive excellence. Dr. Albert, a leading national voice for equity-minded, culturally responsive leadership practices, will spend the next year providing support, guidance and coaching with specific emphasis on cultural understanding, school and community needs and strategic visioning juxtaposed with Catholic traditions and philosophies. Dr. Albert will lead the assessment and training processes and lay the groundwork for the school’s long-term plan.

Dr. Albert has worked with the United States Department of Homeland Security, the State of Minnesota Department of Human Services, the Association of Junior Leagues International, the California State University System, Notre Dame University and the University of Nebraska, among others. She served as the executive vice president of inclusion and human resources at the National College Athletic Association. Prior to joining the NCAA, Dr. Albert served as vice president for equity and diversity of the University of Minnesota system. At Louisiana State University, Dr. Albert served as vice provost for equity, diversity and community outreach. As LSU’s chief diversity officer, she developed and implemented strategic initiatives and policies aimed at cultivating a campus environment that embraces difference, sustains inclusion and enhances institutional access and equity.

July-August 2020: SJA President Jan R. Breen worked to select 22 members of the Diversity Action Committee. This leadership group will work with SJA’s administrators to listen, learn, lead, guide and shepherd the school’s work toward inclusive excellence. The Diversity Action Committee will offer sustained leadership, guidance and recommendations to successfully integrate strategies and objectives that are critical in fostering real, transformative change in the climate, culture, curriculum, leadership, personnel and student/alumnae experiences. The committee is comprised of students, alumnae, parents, faculty, staff, administrators, members of the SJA Board of Directors and Sisters of St. Joseph.

September 1-4, 2020: Dr. Albert spent the first week of September in Baton Rouge, meeting with the Executive Committee of the SJA Board of Directors, the faculty and staff and the Diversity Action Committee. She outlined the work which would take place over the coming year as the Academy works to enhance its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. 

September 18, 2020: Dr. Albert presented the scope of the work ahead to the SJA Board of Directors at its start-of-the-school-year retreat. 

September 29-October 1, 2020: Over the course of two evenings, Dr. Albert and trained local facilitators hosted focus group discussions on SJA’s campus. In accordance with COVID-19 restrictions, the 160 alumnae, parents, friends, students and faculty/staff were divided into small groups to allow for social distancing. On a third evening, out-of-town individuals or those unable to come to campus met virtually. Focus group participants shared their lived experiences and concerns and made recommendations for creating common ground and a path toward greater inclusion. 

October 21, 2020: Dr. Albert met with faculty and staff to discuss the Student Cultural Intelligence Leadership Training Experience and Becoming a Standard Bearer of Brave Conversations.

October 21, 2020: Dr. Albert hosted student summits on Cultural Intelligence Leadership Training for the junior and senior classes. 

October 26, 2020: Dr. Albert hosted a meeting with Black students and a meeting with Black parents. Meetings with other minority groups will be scheduled moving forward.

December 15, 2020: Dr. Albert will meet with the Board of Directors for focus group analysis.  

December 16, 2020: The Diversity Action Committee will meet to discuss focus group findings, understand what was learned, evaluate what has been accomplished to date and identify potential components of the vision/desired outcomes for inclusive excellence.

December 16, 2020: Diversity Action Committee meeting.

To follow (dates to be determined)
  • The creation of the strategic vision and priorities that will allow a take-action approach to achieving organizational alignment and impactful, transformational change. 
  • A six-part inclusive excellence leadership and development series.
  • A community-wide town hall conversation on inclusive excellence to explore stronger diversity and inclusion practices, greater community connections and strategies for reaching common ground. The inclusive excellence strategic plan will be unveiled at this time.

Among the initiatives being developed are the following:

  • Discipline: Review policies and establish clear protocols for responding to discriminatory, exclusionary or offensive behavior.
  • Curriculum: Incorporate the active teaching of anti-racism; honor/amplify the achievements and contributions of people of color.
  • Point Person: Appoint an individual to implement the strategies for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. 
  • Faculty/Staff Recruitment: Develop a plan for the recruitment of diverse faculty/staff.
  • Faculty/Staff Training/Education: Implement anti-bias training/professional development of faculty/staff.
  • Student Training/Education: Implement inclusion training for students.
  • Parent Training/Education: Implement inclusion training for parents.
  • Alumnae Involvement: Encourage conversation with alumnae and community members.

St. Joseph’s Academy is a Catholic, all-girls, college-preparatory high school. SJA has an admissions policy that is nondiscriminatory regarding race or national origin. Students of all faiths, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds who have the academic ability and motivation to succeed are invited to apply. Special consideration is shown to Catholic families who have consistently supported Catholic education or who have a legacy at SJA. Final decisions regarding admission are made by the President and Principal with recommendations from the Admissions Committee and support of the SJA Board of Directors.

God of love and mercy,
Touch our hearts and call on us to acknowledge
and respect the “dear neighbor” in our midst.
We pray for openness in our hearts to reject racism and 
all discrimination against our sisters and brothers. 
Inspire us to be agents of unity who embrace those who 
cross our paths with love and acceptance. 

Amen.

As a native daughter and a two-time alumna of Catholic institutions, my heart is certainly swelled with appreciation to be in partnership with this mission-critical work. Helping to guide, advance and claim victory on the diversity and inclusion goals of SJA, an educational institution steeped in embodying our Catholic values and committed to excellence in developing globally minded, civically engaged women leaders, will certainly be both a personal and professional hallmark.DR. Katrice Albert

 

Members of our Diversity Action Committee are Suzie Toups Adler ’85, Father Michael Alello, Stacia Andricain, Courtney Bell ’05, Jan Rhorer Breen ’69, Melissa Crawford, Dr. Lisa Delpit ’69, Derek Fife, Asia Green ’22, Letrece Griffin ’00, Lori Harper, Dr. George Karam, Sister Joan Laplace, CSJ, Olivia Mack ’22, Shane Morrison, Sister Chris Pologa, CSJ, Jade Spears, Dr. Marshall St. Amant, Dr. Yolunda Taylor, Tiffany Tran ’21, Susan Turner ’68 and Lissa Weston.

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