Insiders’ View of Affinity Groups

Insiders’ View of Affinity Groups

By Jen Cort

Jen Cort is an education consultant in the areas of equity, inclusion, diversity and justice. In this podcast, Jen opens up a "third space"— a place outside our familiar home and work environments — in order that we might begin to engage in some of the provocative questions that need to be addressed. Listen in as Jen speaks with some of the leading thinkers and doers in the field.

With practical advice and thoughtful insights, a student, faculty advisor, and diversity director discuss the beauty and challenges of their affinity group program.  

Ved Rawat is a rising senior at Friends Academy Upper School. He plays tennis and basketball and volunteers at St Catherine’s Hospital and nursing home. Ved is keenly interested in the positive development of our communities, as he wants to move forward as a member of the Public Health field. Ved shares, “I want to learn to be a leader in our interconnected community and am delighted to be part of Third Space!”

Nikita Desai is a 3rd-grade teacher at Friends Academy, previously taught 1st and 4th grades, and is in her 24th year. Nikita grew up in England in her elementary and middle school years. She moved to Pennsylvania as a 14-year-old before getting married and moving to Long Island, where she lives with her 13-year-old daughter, Mira, and husband, Harit. Nikita enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with her family. She believes in listening to students and centering their voices to inform how she teaches. Being a DEIJ practitioner and a lifelong learner, Nikita advocates for inclusivity and speaking truth to power and encourages her students to do the same. 

Camille Simone Edwards, a graduate of Northwestern University and the daughter of two U.S. Army Veterans, is a multifaceted professional. She is a consultant, DEI practitioner, school leader, and educator with a strong focus on people and culture. Camille S. Edwards, a multifaceted professional, is currently the Director of Student Affairs at Friends Academy of Long Island, New York. She is involved in program design, community engagement, DEI practitioner, leadership development, identity consciousness, culture work, team-building, vision & goal-setting, and interpersonal communication strategies. She coaches teams to implement and uplift strategic plans for sustainable equity, belonging, and access change. She also designs and facilitates equity seminars and immersive summer leadership workshops for all teams, annual wellness retreats for people of color (PoC), and offers one-on-one coaching year-round for all individuals. Camille S. Edwards’s belief in the power of courage to bring about meaningful change is evident in her work at Friends Academy.

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