"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."

Diversity, Equity & Belonging

Statement from the Director

As a Quaker school, the work of diversity, equity and belonging has been an integral piece of the fabric of our school since its inception over 230 years ago. Our vision is to create a community where everyone experiences a sense of belonging as soon as they walk through the doors of our building. We celebrate the fact that we all hold multiple identities, and we aim to ensure that everyone can stand proudly in their racial, ethnic, religious, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic identities.

We ensure that diversity, equity and belonging come to life within our curriculum, our school structures, our policies and our overall programming. We approach this work in several ways, from creating affinity spaces for students from historically underrepresented identities, to learning about the diverse histories that make up our community and our city. We also create programming to learn and listen about important topics such as racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, sexism or homophobia in developmentally appropriate ways, while simultaneously celebrating our various cultural traditions and accomplishments.

We understand that a diverse community fosters a rich and compassionate learning environment for everyone—students and adults alike.

In Community,
Kirsti Peters // Director of Diversity, Equity & Belonging

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • Diversity Mission Statement

    The Society of Friends is founded in the belief that there is that of God in every person and that truth emerges as new voices are heard and incorporated in our understanding. We believe that the quality of the truths we know is enriched and deepened by welcoming people with diverse experiences of the world into our community.

    We want to foster a community that addresses the challenge of valuing difference and making every individual feel welcome, supported, and safe: a community in which each person is asked to make the rigorous commitment to recognize the Light within every other, to hear that piece of truth each person brings to the continuing dialogue which is the foundation of our community. We want our daily interactions to demonstrate that maintaining respect and pursuing the hard work of understanding difference creates strength as we work to define and move toward common goals.

    Our mission as an educational institution is to prepare our students to participate in an increasingly interdependent world and, by graduating an increasingly diverse group of students, to help build a more effective citizenry and representative leadership for the future. We seek to develop the skills and discipline necessary to communicate effectively and to learn from a rich variety of experiences and points of view. This work is central to valuing diversity, to the purpose of education and to the Quaker ideals of integrity, peace, equality and simplicity.

    In a world in which people continue to suffer profound inequalities of opportunity, we dedicate ourselves to stretching what we have and are capable of: to working to become a community more representative of the city in which we live and to improving our ability to support a diverse student body. The gap between our ideals and the possible creates struggle to which we commit ourselves with energy and joy.
    Adopted October 2005

Diversity, Equity & Belonging Committees

The work of diversity, equity and belonging asks us to lean into our core value of community. It requires that all constituencies participate in this work and considers how we can strengthen our programming so that each member of our community can experience belonging at Friends. In order to encourage the distribution of this work across all divisions and offices, we offer Diversity, Equity and Belonging Committees for staff/faculty, Upper School students, parents, the Board of Trustees, and Alumni. Each Committee works with the Director of Diversity, Equity and Belonging to ensure that their goals are aligned to the diversity, equity and belonging goals of the senior administration. 

The Office of Diversity, Equity & Belonging, maintains two DEB Committees for our on-campus population—one for Upper School students, and the other for staff and faculty. Both committees work closely with the Director of DEB and the Specialist for DEB to foster a community that is inclusive and equitable to our growing diverse community.

Upper School Student DEB Committee

Mia ’27, Khady ’26, Cheyenne ’26, Jahzara ’25, Jade ’25, Jyotrimoy ’24, Graham ’24, Miles ’24, Indigo ’24 // Adult Facilitators: Kirsti Peters (Director of DEB) and Ava Heller (CPEJ Specialist for DEB)

The Upper School DEB Committee meets with the Director of DEB and the Specialist for DEB once every other week. Like the other Upper School Committees, members represent each grade and are affirmed by their peers. Two DEB clerks (Indigo '24 and Miles '24 for 2023-2024) are responsible for running each meeting. In 2022-2023, the DEB Committee focused on identifying and disrupting microaggressions, and 2023-2024’s committee is passionate about addressing cancel culture and ensuring that all students feel like they belong.

Staff/Faculty DEB Committee

Lower School: Jessica Contreras, Isabel Dominguez, Jaja Engel-Snow, Andrew Fox, LaurenGraham, Khairah Klein; Middle School: Stephanie Teo, Trent Williams, Jennifer Gandásegui, Lynn Lin, Yuxi Lin, Elizabeth Lipshutz; Upper School: Peter Kalajian, Katherine Prudente, Stephon Richardson; Staff: Ava Heller, Kara Kutner, Michael Mudho; Clerk: Kirsti Peters (Director of DEB)

The staff/faculty DEB Committee meets once each month and has representation from all three divisions as well as the administrative staff. Each division creates their own diversity, equity and belonging goals for the year and works with the Director of DEB and their Division Head to achieve these goals. Members from the Lower School have created developmentally appropriate identity lessons, using the Learning for Justice standards, which are currently being implemented in the Lower School. The Middle School has been working together to create advisory lessons that center identity and belonging. The Upper School is working with our Dean of Studies to take stock of how DEB shows up in our curriculum and explore what it can look like across all disciplines.

Contact Us

Director of Diversity, Equity & Belonging
(646) 979-5126

Ava Heller
CPEJ Specialist for Diversity, Equity & Belonging
(646) 979-5107

Affinity Spaces

One way that we build community and affirm identities is by offering various affinity groups. Affinity groups allow for community members to think deeply about a part of their identity with other people who also share that part of their identity. All affinity groups are led by facilitators who are trained by the Director of Diversity, Equity and Belonging. 

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • Middle School Affinity Groups

    Middle school affinity groups are held once a month and are led by teachers. The affinity groups that are offered are the following: 
    • BIPOC*
    • Boys II Men (for anyone who self-identifies as a boy)
    • Jewish Affinity Group
    • QSqaured (for anyone who self-identifies as LGBTQIA+, or who is exploring their sexuality)
    • Sister Circle (for anyone who self-identifies a girl)
    • White Allies Affinity Group
  • Upper School Affinity Groups

    Upper School affinity groups are led by Upper School facilitators, and are supported by members of the Upper School. The affinity groups that are offered are the following:
    • BIPOC*
    • Mixed Affinity Group (for anyone who self-identifies as mixed race/multiracial)
    • Sister Circle (for anyone who identifies a young woman)
    • QSqaured (for anyone who self-identifies as LGBTQIA+, or who is exploring their sexuality)
  • Staff/Faculty Affinity Groups

    At this time, we offer affinity groups for faculty and staff to further investigate how their racial or ethnic identity may impact their various roles as educators. For the 2023-2024 school year, we have integrated affinity groups into three of our whole-school meetings.
  • Parent Affinity Groups

    Parent Affinity Groups fall under the purview of the Parents Association, and more specifically under the Parents Association Diversity and Inclusion Committee (PADIC). These spaces are led by parent volunteers and have a faculty/staff liaison. All facilitators are trained by the Director of Diversity, Equity and Belonging. The affinity groups that are offered are the following:
    • BIPOC*
    • Jewish Affinity Group
    • Mixed Affinity Group
    • Muslim Affinity Group
    • Parents who identify as LGBTQIA+
    • Solo parents (anyone who is parenting without another person)

Upper School Culture/Identity Clubs

In our Upper School, we have a range of student-led clubs, including several that center the identities of our student population. While all clubs fall under the umbrella of student life in the Upper School, the CPEJ team works closely with the “identity” clubs. Our Culture/Identity Clubs take the lead in Heritage Month celebrations in the Upper School and often bring these celebrations into the Middle School. Identity clubs are created and led by students with faculty advisors. In addition to leading Heritage Month activities, identity clubs work with the CPEJ office to host lunch time discussions for the Upper School, lead class-meetings that honor their identity, and organize cross-divisional events with Lower and Middle School students across the school year.

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

Cultural Celebrations and Heritage Months

Though we honor the diverse heritages of our community year-round, we also use heritage months to celebrate the contributions of historically underrepresented groups. In the Lower and Middle Schools, our adult and student communities lead Meeting for Worship and Community Periods to highlight these various celebrations.

In the Upper School, the leaders of our Culture/Identity Clubs work with the CPEJ team to offer various programming to celebrate and educate  about our diverse community. Culture club leaders also seek opportunities to integrate with Lower and Middle school students. Past activities have included inviting Lower School students to a club meeting for an art activity, or hosting a special lunch with Middle School students where they share foods connected to their identity and discuss relevant topics. Culture Club leaders often are guest speakers during the Lower and Middle School assembly periods, presenting for celebrations like Lunar New Year, Diwali, Eid and Black History Month.

Throughout the year, the CPEJ team works with the divisional offices to bring in diverse speakers for—but not limited to—Heritage Months. Recent speakers have included Kendra James, Elisabet Velasquez, Daniel J. Watts, Warren King and Veera Hiranandsni.

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • Sample Upper School programming for heritage months and cultural celebrations.

    Below, you will find a list of cultural programming that has been offered in the past: 
    • A series of short films featuring Latinx filmmakers
    • Black History Month Jeopardy during Class Meeting
    • A West Indian Headdress Making for Carnival
    • Lunch Discussions with our assembly speakers
    • Eid Celebrations
    • A Seder Lunch
    • A Field Trip to Yu & Mi Books
*When we use the term BIPOC, it is to represent, Black, Indigenous, and people of color. POC as defined by the National Association of Independent Schools include those who identify as Black/African American, Latinx/Hispanic, Asian/South Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern, Multiracial, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.
Friends Seminary actively promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in all its programs and operations, including admissions, financial aid, hiring, and all facets of the educational experience. To form a community which strives to reflect the world’s diversity, we do not discriminate on the basis of race or color, religion, nationality, ethnicity, economic background, physical ability, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Friends Seminary is an equal opportunity employer.

222 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
P: 212-979-5030
F: 212.979.5034
Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.