July 12 – 14, 2024 | Hale Intrepid Academy

Join a diverse cohort of 20 – 25 leaders in a year-long program which will equip you to advance the work of racial justice, equity, and diversity in your school.

The Leadership for Racial Justice Fellows program begins with an intensive 3-day experience on the beautiful campus of Hale Education Center. Your cohort will follow a structured curriculum which combines experiential learning, comprehensive instruction of strategic approaches to racial justice work, and institutional change theory. You’ll be given time, as well as individual coaching, to develop racial justice projects for implementation in the coming academic year. Through dialogue and situational leadership scenario analysis, the Program will equip you to better understand your unique capabilities and more effectively lead your community towards racial justice.

LRJF builds on the strong cohort experience and continues to provide support and collaboration for the entire academic year. As a Fellow, you’ll build your professional network—from your fellow participants to past Fellows to the outstanding diversity practitioners who serve as your facilitators.

Over the year, you will be invited to reconnect, share your progress, and give and receive feedback.

These yearlong activities and benefits include:

  • The opening 3-day retreat, July 12 –14, 2024
  • A Fellows luncheon in October, 2024
  • A virtual January reconnect, in which you will present your work back to the group for thought-partnership and support
  • A blooming professional network via access to the cohort participants, the AISNE program lead, and LRJF facilitation team

Your program faculty will help you come away with:

  • Solutions for technical and situational leadership challenges needed to advance racial justice in your school.
  • Ways to give and receive productive feedback on racial justice issues.
  • Techniques to sustain yourself as a joyful, energetic, and impactful leader of racial justice.
  • A better understanding of what meaningful, lasting change for racial equity would look like in your school and tools to help you implement it.
  • A network of supportive professional contacts with whom you can collaborate for years to come.

Is this Program Right for Me?

The Leadership for Racial Justice Fellows program is available to staff and faculty of AISNE member schools, whether your school has a Director of DEI or not. The program welcomes anyone who wishes to strengthen their school’s capacity to address matters of diversity and racial justice. The program is ideal for upper level leaders who are new to their school and/or the New England independent school community.

The program blends traditional learning with optional experiential nature-based components. The Hale Intrepid Academy campus lends itself to this work. You may choose to engage in a “challenge by choice” ropes course, nature hikes, and other outdoor group activities. You will have limited access to WiFi, and meals may take place outdoors, weather permitting. If you have questions about accessibility, please contact us at info@aisne.org.

Space in the AISNE’s Leadership for Racial Justice Fellows is limited to 25 participants in order to create an inspired, close-knit cohort of anti-racist leaders. 

AISNE welcomes participants of all races, genders, religions, orientations, and abilities to join the Fellows program and especially encourages those who identify as a person of color to register.

We look forward to learning with you!

Registration & Fees

July 12 – 14, 2024
Hale Intrepid Academy
80 Carby St, Westwood, MA 02090



  • $1,950 | Early Bird (through March 31, 2024)
  • $2,300 | Regular Rate (Beginning April 1, 2024)

Schools are limited to three participants each year.

Your registration includes:

  • The opening 3-day retreat, July 12 –14, 2024
    • Individualized coaching
    • Group work and meals
    • Experiential learning activities
    • Takeaway resources
  • A Fellows luncheon in October, 2024
  • A virtual January reconnect, in which you will present your work back to the group for thought-partnership and support
  • A blooming professional network via access to the cohort participants, the AISNE program lead, and LRJF facilitation team

Following their registration, each participant will be required to submit a letter of support which details the applicant’s experience with and capacity for advancing racial justice in their school. All letters of support should be emailed to eliza@aisne.org by the recommender using professional letterhead and the recommender’s professional email address. Ideally, the letter of support should be written by a Head of School, a school board chair (if the participant is a Head of School), or other senior school leader to whom the applicant directly reports.

AISNE strives to create a welcoming and accessible learning environment for all. If you have any questions or accessibility needs, please contact us at info@aisne.org.

Agenda At a Glance

Friday | Building Leadership & Community

  • 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM  |  Welcome & Overview
  • 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM  |  Initiative Games, Core Values, No-Doze, Reflection
  • 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM  |  Lunch
  • 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM  |  Challenge Course
  • 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM  |  Early Messages about Race
  • 5:00 PM – 5:30 PM  |  Home Groups
  • 6:00 PM  |  Welcome Dinner at Local Restaurant

Saturday | Building Understanding & Capacity

  • 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM  |  Breakfast
  • 9:30 AM – 9:45 AM  |  Opening Reflections
  • 9:45 AM – 10:15 AM  |  Leadership Styles Inventory & Situational Leadership
  • 10:15 AM – 11:15 AM  |  Racial Justice & Injustice in Schools
  • 11:15 AM – 12:15 PM  |  Lunch
  • 12:15 PM – 2:15 PM  |  Organizational Change Theories 
  • 2:15 PM – 2:30 PM  |  Break
  • 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM  |  Scenarios: Parent/Guardian, Admin/Board, Peer
  • 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM  |  Introduction to Performance Tasks
  • 5:00 PM – 5:45 PM  |  Working Group Reflection Meeting
  • Evening | Dinner On Your Own

Sunday | Building A Plan

  • 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM  |  Breakfast
  • 9:30 AM – 10:00 AM  |  Opening Reflections
  • 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM  |  Work Time & Individual Coaching
  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM  |  Lunch
  • 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM  |  Peer Feedback Session & Final Preparations
  • 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM  |  Presentations of Performance Tasks in Working Groups
  • 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM  |  Whole Group Conclusion & Celebration

Program Faculty

Under the guidance of the Director, Erica Pernell, and lead facilitators Rodney Eric López and Melissa Lawlor, the program will bring together diversity practitioners, heads of school, and other school leaders in a cohort designed to promote culturally responsive, systemic change in schools.

Erica Pernell, Fellow Program Director
Erica Pernell is the Director of Intrepid Academy at Hale, a semester school for Boston Public School students focused on experiential learning and outdoor leadership. 

Erica has worked at the intersection of equity and education for over 15 years, including nine years as a teacher and administrator in independent schools. She partners with schools and organizations to create more equity and justice in education, and works as a consultant, speaker, and strategist in the Greater Boston area. Taking a solutions-oriented approach, Erica uses a growth mindset to empower individuals and communities to examine current issues, imagine ideal outcomes, and take steps to make transformation real.

Rodney Eric López, Lead Faculty
Rodney Eric López is an accomplished educator, artist, and non-profit leader. His diverse professional background includes successful tenures in teaching artistry, training, coaching and facilitation, corporate communications and public relations, and nonprofit leadership.

Featured in the hit documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, Rodney is a board member of New Urban Arts and  the Providence Public Library and is a proud member of the Rhode Island Foundation’s Equity Leadership Initiative. Rodney holds a B.S. in Communications Studies from New York University where he was a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar. He holds a certificate in Spiritual Entrepreneurship from the Glean Network and Venture for All Program at Columbia Business School. He lives in Providence, RI with his wife Noni Thomas López and has two beautiful sons, Rodney Jr. and Roman.

Melissa Lawlor, Lead Faculty
Melissa Lawlor serves as Upper School Director of Equity and Inclusion for Milton Academy, a K-12 program with students from more than 30 countries.

Prior to her work at Milton Academy, Melissa worked as Director of Equity and Inclusion at Brewster Academy. Melissa previously worked as an English and Psychology teacher and Associate Director of College Counseling at Brewster. She has also worked as a teacher and advisor at Millbrook School, an online producer for Care.com, and a producer at WGBH-TV. Melissa is the co-founder of the Network for Independent School Equity (NISE), a regional affinity group dedicated to the professional development of faculty of color and LGBTQ+ faculty at independent schools in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations and transfer requests must be sent via email to info@aisne.org. 

Cancellations received on or before May 15, 2024 will receive a refund of 50% of the program fee. Cancellations received after May 15, 2024 are not entitled to a refund. Transfers of registrations from one person to another are permitted up to 72 hours before the start of the program.