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 continue our work 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 embraces open, honest dialogue as we listen, learn and, ultimately, act and lead. 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 the ongoing 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. 

We remain committed to hearing our students, alumnae and parents regarding their experiences in our school community and to engaging in discussion. 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.

In June of 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.

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.

Following a national search, Dr. Katrice Albert was 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, would 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 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.

SJA President Jan Rhorer Breen selected 22 members of the Diversity Action Committee. This leadership group was charged with working with SJA’s administrators to listen, learn, lead, guide and shepherd the school’s work toward inclusive excellence. The Diversity Action Committee was comprised of students, alumnae, parents, faculty, staff, administrators, members of the SJA Board of Directors and Sisters of St. Joseph.

In the fall of 2020, focus group discussions were held on SJA’s campus. Participants shared their lived experiences and concerns and made recommendations for creating common ground and a path toward greater inclusion. The Diversity Action Committee would meet throughout the winter and spring to identify components of the vision/desired outcomes for inclusive excellence.

A new strategic plan was crafted to guide the Academy's work for the next three to five years. Focus groups were convened to further explore specific elements of the Academy experience, including faith development, academic excellence, personal growth, behavioral health, financial sustainability, facilities, campus life, tuition, enrollment and diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Seven working committees were formed to devise strategies, objectives and action items across six areas of focus. Areas of need identified by the Diversity Action Committee were incorporated into the strategic initiatives of each committee. All work will be undertaken through the lens of our Catholic identity, gospel values, theological principles and the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph. 

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.