Every individual has something of value to contribute and learn. With this idea in mind, the Office of Equity & Inclusion is responsible for encouraging curiosity and facilitating meaningful community connections.

The groups inspiring and organizing this work are below.

The Office of Equity & Inclusion

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  • Jaci Nelson

    E&I Director
  • Jean Myles

    E&I Coordinator
  • Stephanie Rein

    E&I Integrator
  • Elizabeth Guillen '15

    E&I Integrator
Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion have been institutional priorities at St. Luke's for decades. For example, in 2004, we established a Diversity Committee on the Board of Trustees to examine the culture and ethos of the school with a focus on a multicultural curriculum. And in 2006, we created a "Diversity Plan" with seven goals. For more details, please check out the timeline below.

The Student Experience

Affinity Groups

At St. Luke’s, we think expansively about our community and recognize the power of our similarities to create meaningful connections. We also embrace the idea that our diversity — differences of all kinds, including ability, beliefs, culture, and experience — is also a strength of our community. For this reason, we support a number of different affinity groups which celebrate diversity while fostering inclusion and belonging. While student-led clubs connect people of common interests, affinity groups provide social-emotional support for people who might feel like “outsiders” due to a particular minority status at school. SLS Affinity groups are free of judgment and encourage connection.

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    According to the National Association of Independent Schools: “As a learning base, affinity groups offer affirmation of identity, empowerment of the individual, and empowerment of the group within the learning community — all things worth fighting for.” By gathering periodically in affinity groups, people with a shared identity can assess, reflect and process their lived experiences in an effort to build greater confidence and affirm one another. Participation in affinity groups encourages participants to embrace different parts of their identity and to feel a sense of group pride and positive self-worth.

    When affinity groups have the opportunity to come together, the goal is for all people to feel more visible and more valued in the community and to bolster the school’s commitment to inclusion and belonging.

Please find information about some of our affinity groups below.

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  • Black Student Union (BSU)

    The BSU is for all students who wish to celebrate Black culture, history, activities, and food. This organization fosters a strong sense of community for all students regardless of race or ethnicity.

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  • Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA)

    GSA creates a safe space for LGBT+ students and educates students in Middle and Upper School on how to be better allies within our community.

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  • Hispanic & Latinx Affinity & Ally Group (HLAAG)

    Aims to preserve and promote Spanish, Latin American, and Latino cultures by raising awareness of the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world and by celebrating the richness, diversity, and contributions of Hispanic and Latino populations. We want to provide a sense of community and security for our Hispanic and Latino students.

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  • Jewish Affinity and Ally Group (JAAG)

    The mission of the Jewish Affinity Group is two-fold: provide camaraderie and a safe place for students who identify as Jewish, and educate the greater St. Luke’s community about our shared heritage and cultural differences, thus discouraging intolerance.

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  • Pan-Asian Affinity Group

    The Pan-Asian Affinity Group serves to create a safe space to celebrate our unique cultures and experiences as Asian Americans navigating the world.

Student Equity Leadership Team (ELT)

Three equity leadership teams – for middle school students, upper school students, and faculty/staff – work together to deepen St. Luke’s collective commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

The Upper and Middle School student ELTs represent a broad cross-section of the student body who work collaboratively to draw out multiple perspectives; model respectful curiosity towards differences; and engage peers in thoughtful conversation.

As members of the ELT, students willingly share from the “I” perspective and expose themselves to divergent points of view that may challenge individual assumptions. Together, the student ELT and faculty/staff ELT partner as equal collaborators to design community-wide experiences that encourage connection, curiosity, empathy, and belonging at SLS.

Equity Leadership Conference (ELC)

The ELC is a bi-annual event designed to foster genuine curiosity, dialogue, empathy, and greater equity at St. Luke’s and beyond. It is organized by the school's Equity and Inclusion team. Read the 2022 and 2021 event recaps.

Featured Article

In The Sentinel, St. Luke's student-run digital newspaper, Cessa Lewis '23 reflected on her attendance at the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders (grades 9-12) from across the U.S. and abroad. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community. Discover additional student views on diversity, equity, and inclusion topics in The Sentinel.

The Professional Experience

Professional Development (PD)

To build a culture of belonging, we encourage professional learning and skill building. St. Luke's offers affinity groups for faculty and staff, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), and the support of faculty and staff interested in participating in professional development opportunities outside of St. Luke’s to reinforce the school's strategic priorities.

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    Affinity Groups
    Faculty and Staff of Color for those who self-identify as a person of color and want to be build community within community in an effort to feel affirmed and able to bring their whole, authentic self to school. 
    WE ARE (White Educators Against Racism Everywhere) for those who self-identify as white and want to engage in collective “inside out” work while learning about race as a system of power and increasing both fluency with the issues and a commitment to work in solidarity with people of color. 

    Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) Examples
    Social-Emotional Learning (SEL):
    This group aims to discuss and develop skills, tools, and strategies for identifying emotions, building relationships, perspective-taking, finding motivation, and stress management for students and group members.
    Grading for Equity: Explores a range of grading practices that promote equity and a growth mindset in students. Applies strategies to reduce bias and increase accuracy when measuring student learning.
    Critical Friends: Improve your practice through structured conversations (called protocols) to resolve dilemmas, develop half-baked ideas, realize big dreams for your work, fine-tune programs, and the list goes on! You will come to trust, learn from, and support your critical friends in unexpected ways.
    SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity): Develop ways of understanding self and system through the lens of various "isms" (e.g. racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, religious fundamentalism). Through structured storytelling and personal reflection, turn marginalization and privilege into agency and allyship.

    Additional PD Opportunities Beyond the Hilltop
    NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC): PoCC is “a safe space for leadership and professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools.” It is great for those who want to move past their “101” understanding and into practical strategies for the classroom, advisory, and school life. Note: At St. Luke’s, there are often more people who want to attend than we can send, and we prioritize sending faculty and staff who identify as people of color.
    White Privilege Conference: WPC “[examines] challenging concepts of privilege and oppression and offers solution and team-building strategies to work towards a more equitable world.” Envisioned and facilitated by Eddie Moore, Jr., a truly dynamic leader, this is an emotional experience that makes everyone feel something.
    CAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference: This is a one-day conference held at a peer school in Connecticut. It is a wonderful opportunity for faculty and staff to support our activist students and get a full day of equity and inclusion PD themselves.
    NAIS Diversity Leadership Institute: Sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools, this summer PD is a great experience, particularly for those who would like to help lead diversity work in some way. NAIS does an excellent job of creating networks and providing resources.  
    Diversity Directions: This organization aims to “meet the individual school where it is in its multicultural evolution, and, using an inquiry-based approach, to provide concrete, practical steps to help the school reach its next level of development.” This summer retreat offers participants skills, knowledge, and supportive networks to sustain equity and inclusion efforts in their schools.

Faculty/Staff ELT and Board of Trustees Leadership

The faculty/staff ELT reflects a wide range of backgrounds, from tenure to discipline, divisional representation, and cultural diversity. In pursuit of St. Luke’s Vision for Inclusive Excellence (VIE) and in alignment with its goals and action plans, the ELT pursues school-wide projects that promote DEIB.

The Equity and Inclusion Committee of the St. Luke's Board of Trustees was established in 2020 to both guide and instruct the Board as well as serve as a resource to the Head of School and Director of Equity and Inclusion. The Committee is tasked with helping to implement the Vision for Inclusive Excellence and support St. Luke’s mission to build an equitable institution in which all students can thrive.

The Parent Experience


MOSAIC is a group for St. Luke’s families of color and multicultural families who collectively gather to promote and increase belonging, participation, leadership, community service, and partnership across the school. As an extension of the Parents' Association, in partnership with RIISE, St. Luke’s and the MOSAIC group are on a journey of empowerment and advocacy. Signature events include the MOSAIC Summer Potluck, Leadership Dinner with the Head of School, and Family Gathering.

St. Luke's Equity and Inclusion Timeline

Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion have long been institutional priorities at St. Luke's. Please see some notable dates below.

November 2022

Board reaffirmed the enhanced Vision for Inclusive Excellence

September 2021

Established middle school and upper school student Equity Leadership Teams

January 2021

Launched St. Luke’s inaugural Equity Leadership Conference

September 2020

Established the faculty and staff Equity Leadership Team

August 2020

Established the standing Equity & Inclusion Committee of the Board of Trustees

June 2020

Seven Commitments made by the St. Luke’s Board of Trustees

May 2019

Board approves SLS goal to achieve proportional parity between students of color and faculty of color

March 2019

Hired and announced the appointment of St. Luke’s new Director of Equity and Inclusion

May 2017

Board approved and published Vision for Inclusive Excellence


SLS pioneered the creation of the Fairchester Alliance, a regional consortium of peer, independent schools to increase faculty diversity through collaborative, action-oriented hiring practices


Social Justice Leadership Summit (SJLS) was a student-organized and facilitated full-day exploration of social identity, privilege, and ally work. Launched in 2014, this annual summit brought students and faculty together with the goal of inspiring social change. The Equity Leadership Conference (ELC), described further up this page, now continues the exploration work that SJLS began.


Hired St. Luke’s first Director of Diversity which evolved into Director of Inclusive Excellence and Leadership


Asst. Dean of Students evolved to Dean of US Student Life and Director of Community Affairs

May 2006

St. Luke’s Diversity Plan drafted by Mark Davis - seven goals: develop multicultural teaching curricula and practices, est. a leadership structure for diversity, develop signature programs, develop a marketing and communications plan, increase faculty and staff diversity, increase student body diversity, build a relationship with Waterside


Established first Black Student Alliance as an Upper School student affinity group


Established first Diversity Committee on the Board to examine the culture and ethos of the school and assess the commitment to diversity with an emphasis on multicultural curriculum
St. Luke’s School is a secular (non-religious), private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving over 35 towns in Connecticut and New York. Our exceptional academics and diverse co-educational community foster students’ intellectual and ethical development and prepare them for top colleges. St. Luke’s Center for Leadership builds the commitment to serve and the confidence to lead.