Creating a Sense of Belonging

To strengthen our community and live our values, a collaborative effort is underway to hire and retain faculty and staff of color

Erica Babino has devoted her career to helping families, individuals, and businesses on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB). She has led in the hiring and retention of corporate employees of color and managed employee relations. She is also a professional mediator and conflict management coach.

My role, in addition to responsibilities in the Inclusion Office, focuses on recruiting and retention of racially and culturally diverse faculty members. This begins with a collaboration between the Inclusion Office, Human Resources, and the Assistant Head of School. We are developing recruitment and retention strategies to increase the diversity in our candidate pools, thereby increasing the probability of hiring more racially and culturally diverse faculty members. Many people think that if you’re a teacher, you’re a teacher, yet it’s not always the same for everyone. There are different needs depending on one’s core identities as to how they survive and thrive in an area with the demographics of Portland.

While Catlin Gabel wants to understand the needs of all faculty and staff, those who are racially and culturally diverse may have different necessities related to retention. Some candidates, new hires, and long-term teachers are vocal about what it takes for them to retain their positions at CGS. Others are not and find employment in more diverse cities. Some do both: they are vocal but choose to leave. Part of my role is to be proactive in surveying and interacting with faculty members to learn about their specific needs and concerns and working together to help make their tenure a successful one.

In terms of recruiting, we’re looking at building stronger relationships with communities of color in Portland and the Pacific Northwest. We will continue speaking with our current recruiting sources about the goal to increase diversity, and begin establishing relationships with local colleges and universities that specialize in graduating teachers, building alliances within the Pacific Northwest Indigenous populations, and strengthening coalitions within Black, Latinx, and AAPI organizations. Partnering, sharing resources, and being strong community members increases our ability to recruit and retain more racially and culturally diverse faculty.

Research has shown that if a student has at least one teacher of color, they show greater improvement in problem solving and critical thinking. To feel like they truly belong, BIPOC students need to have adults they can look up to and say, “They belong here. So do I.” We also know that a more diverse teaching staff is important for all student learning.

Support from the greater Catlin Gabel community is needed for success through sharing networks, providing leads, and financial support towards these goals. While there is a collaboration between the offices of Inclusion and Outreach, Human Resources, and the administration, support is essential from everyone as we all benefit from diversity. We are all responsible in helping Catlin Gabel continue to be a kind and inclusive community.