Six years ago, the concept that parents across a wide range of backgrounds and identities could become force multipliers for advancing racial justice and educational equity in their schools was an aspiration. Today, Kindred is working across 17 schools in DC, 1 site in San Francisco, and building the skills and capacity for parents to advocate for change at the ward and city level. More than 600 parents and staff have experienced Kindred dialogue groups directly, building empathy and commitment to caring for each other’s children as if they were their own. And thousands of families and children have benefited from their actions and advocacy. The changes many of these participants experience are captured profoundly in this year’s anniversary video where one parent shares,
“I was truly hesitant to come into a group and address issues as it relates to racism and bias. I have had an awakening, and I am truly grateful for this group.”
It may seem odd, then, that against this progress and success, I am sharing my decision to step down as executive director of Kindred. Though founding and building Kindred has been the experience of a lifetime, my journey has led me to the realization that these times call for different leadership. It has always been a part of Kindred’s plan for Kindred’s next chapter to be led by a person of color, by someone whose lived experiences can inform and illuminate our vision and direction outside of my understanding and drive this work in ways critical to our mission. During these historic times of racial reckoning, that chapter has begun.
We are incredibly fortunate to have found Kindred’s next leader in Zakiya Reid. Zakiya has been part of Kindred’s team for almost two years — first as a senior consultant supporting innovation of our model at one DC school, and then as Kindred’s deputy director. In this role she has led the program team to adapt our in-person model to be delivered online, brought on new team members to support our school-based work, built trusting relationships with school leaders, and served as a voice and spokesperson for Kindred. She has demonstrated incredible judgment and insight, and, along with her experience in education, her wit, energy and exceptional communication skills match what Kindred needs to have continued success and growth.
Zakiya and I first met one another ten years ago when she was the principal of my neighborhood school. Since then, our paths have crossed professionally at Flamboyan Foundation and multiple education venues. Zakiya brings more than 20 years of experience in education as a teacher, school leader in both a charter school and DC public school, and systems’ builder at the Aspen Institute and Leading Educators. Her energy and passion for Kindred’s work is palpable and contagious.
I will transition out of my role as executive director in early May and will support Zakiya full-time as senior advisor through June 30 and be available part-time through the fall. And, of course, I’ll be on-hand thereafter to support her however I can. I will be working hard over the next few months to ensure that Zakiya has as strong of a financial runway as possible in her new role. I invite you to support this important leadership transition by donating to Kindred here and/or reaching out to discuss extending your support into a multi-year grant.
This moment is bittersweet. It is difficult to let go of something I believe in so deeply, even though I know that is the right thing to do. Starting and building Kindred has been an honor. It has reinforced my belief that we, together, through empathy-fueled, trust-based conversations, can create the “beloved communities” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so vibrantly described. I am grateful to all of you for your support, whether through asking critical questions, listening to me during hard times, bringing Kindred to your schools, participating in dialogue, or providing funding support for our work. My profound thanks to you all.