Equity Immersion Features ‘Superpowers’The “superpower” of equity was evident at the second annual Equity Immersion, which set in motion the 2023 Joint Annual Conference. Attendees from throughout Illinois and from other states joined the event, titled "Make Equity Your Superpower” on November 16.
Former State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala, Ph.D. delivered the opening keynote, inviting the audience to “laugh, wonder, and be inspired.” Speaking on a “phoenix-like” equity journey, Ayala related personal examples of experiences and qualities of a leader in educational equity. Ayala’s storytelling spoke of characteristics of equity leaders, including the ability to ignite change, being a transformative leader, resilience, endurance, and healing.
“Why does equity matter? Because it’s how we reach the inclusive learning environment where all students excel, because all means all, every single child,” Ayala said. “Every child should have access to high-quality resources, education, and opportunities. Because it’s the right thing to do.”
Later in the program, Nakia Hall, Ed.D., IASB Associate Executive Director for Field and Equity Services, spoke about “10 Ways to Be an Unapologetic Equity Champion.” Also tying personal anecdotes to equity efforts, Hall noted that “equity empowers us, and equity has the power to change lives.”
Hall’s “10 Ways” included fully committing to the work, being “willing, wise and woke,” developing empathy, knowing what’s best for your students, and “jumping the hurdles, because that’s what hurdles are for.”
Both Ayala and Hall noted Illinois’ efforts to place equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts at the forefront of state education policies and programs.
The opening and closing addresses surrounded an array of roundtable discussions and speaker stations on topics of starting the equity conversation, committee work, equity after COVID, supporting students with chronic illness, and developing academic opportunities for all. Additional conversations led by leaders in equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging covered implicit bias, engaging LGBTQ+ individuals, leadership development, mental health, community engagement, and affinity groups.
The 2023 Equity Immersion also included giveaways, sponsors conversations, vendor tables, and community partnerships. The Thursday event was followed by an evening reception for attendees.