Travelling from Atlanta, Ga. to Oakland, Calif., Linda Carter Griffith, Assistant Head of School for Equity, Inclusion, and Wellness, and Jenny Savino, Director of Alumni Engagement, are working to craft a mission statement for the new AfLatAm committee.
Arranged last spring during the 50th anniversary of AfLatAm, the diverse committee aims to promote understanding of African and African-American and Latinx cultures, according to Terri Stroud ’88, co-chair of AfLatAm.
On January 31, Griffith and Savino travelled to Washington D.C. to collect alumni input about what they hope to see the committee accomplish, which will help shape its course. Griffith and Savino plan on meeting with more alumni in Atlanta, Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.
“The committee is creating their mission statement and we want that to be driven by what alumni want, not what we think we want as administrators at the Academy. We are going directly to engage with the alumni to find out what they hope, what are their wishes, for this AfLatAm ad-hoc committee,” said Griffith.
Common themes emerging from these discussions include a desire for cross-generational mentorship and ways for AfLatAm to re-engage and reconnect with the Academy and their peers.
Griffith said, “More experienced, seasoned alumni would like an opportunity to provide mentorship to younger alums…[The Alumni Engagement Office has] the expression ‘Andover for life’ because the connections and bonds are often life long. Now we are trying to extend it. People will come back for their every fifth-year reunion, we work on a five-year cycle, and we have found that the AfLatAm alumni body would like to gather around common affinity,” said Griffith.
At the discussion in Washington D.C., attendee Gary Lee ’74 gave remarks to the alumni body about the direction of the AfLatAm committee. The committee’s mission statement will be released in April 2019 after the ideas and opinions of African and Latin American alumni have been taken into account.
“I think in general [the committee] is to [trying] to help mobilize interest and discussion about issues related to the AfLatAm and alumni population. So far it’s open ended now…where you want to focus is going to be beyond that and where it’s going to go,” said Lee.
According to Stroud, the AfLatAm committee aims to inspire alumni to remain engaged and connected to other alumni and the academy from the perspective of African-Americans and Latino Americans.
“We want to educate ourselves and the community at large about issues that are of concern to these particular two groups of people of color…There’s a lot of divisiveness in nation going on and we want to play a role in sort of alleviating that in any way that we can because we think that the Academy’s core values are something that everyone that is a part of the community should be adhering to and sort of living out wherever they are in the world,” said Stroud.
Nicholas Olmo ’98, Co-Chair of the AfLatAm Alumni Committee, emphasized the importance of affinity groups, both at Andover and in the alumni community.
“Up until now we haven’t had any of these type of affinity groups at the alumni level, and so I think it is something that is something that I reflect on why you know why has it not been case…Although there has been no interest in this for many years, many of us have spoken about it several times to each other,” said Olmo.
In order to increase engagement with Andover, the committee will continue to reconnect and build the alumni body, according to Griffith. Such activities could include regional events, such as a collaborative Non Sibi project or a social at the African American museum in D.C.
Griffith said, “In Chicago, it might be that they want to invite any of the folks that work [for Andover] in the areas of equity and inclusion to hear more about our current programs and…they might decide to come together to build stronger connections in their city. Fellowship, networking and support I would say are very important headings and themes.”