Located in the new Upper School, the Center for Ethical Leadership will create opportunities for students to engage with and examine topics that shape their world—questioning what leadership means, listening deeply for answers, and applying Quaker values to real-world solutions.
“Our kids have great ideas,” says Upper School Principal Mamadou Guèye. “Right now, there are more than 60 dynamic clubs on campus. But what if we can support them to do more community engagement and to engage in service learning in ways we haven’t done before? Think of the possibilities.”
The new center is all about taking the great work the Sidwell Friends community is already doing—the affinity and social clubs, the community service—and providing students and teachers with more resources and the physical space to do that work.
“We are already piloting classes that ask: How do we address issues of education, transportation, housing, policing? Real-world problem-solving. And the students are fired up by it. It’s inspiring,” says Assistant Upper School Principal for Academic Affairs Robert Gross. “The center will provide resources to create these partnerships with local and global organizations and nonprofits and build internship programs and take advantage of the fact that we are in DC.”
Alumni and parents are fired up, too, excited by how they can offer their expertise, make connections to potential outside partners on behalf of Sidwell Friends students and faculty, as well as how they can invest philanthropically in the center’s activities.
New endowed faculty chairs and positions are a key component of the Center for Ethical Leadership, inspired directly from Sidwell Friends’ Equity, Justice, and Community (EJC) Strategic Action Plan. “Creating these endowed faculty chairs is a forward-looking part of our academic program,” says Head of School Bryan Garman. “No one else is doing it.” Sidwell Friends families have already stepped forward in a big way
to support these endowed positions by fully funding a Faculty Chair in African and African American Studies, the Supervía Endowed Faculty Chair for Spanish and Latin American Studies, and the Drezner Family Endowed Chair for Equity, Justice, and Community. Full funding for an Asian American Studies Chair is also underway as part of the Together We Shine campaign.
The center will have a broad role. It will encompass the Howard University partnership (see page TK); the Dehejia Fellows Internship Program (see sidebar); the SF Sports Leadership Academy, a two-year program to teach student-athletes confidence and team-building skills generously endowed by the Wolstencroft family; the 4th Grade Ethical Leadership Experience supported by The Honorable Ann Winkelman Brown ’55 Ethical Leadership Program Fund; a senior seminar in which students examine and address challenges in the Capital region; the student Summer Equity and Justice Institute; and a program in ethical entrepreneurship.
At Homecoming 2022, the Sidwell Friends community got a taste of what ethical entrepreneurship can mean in a Shark Tank–style student pitchfest judged by alumni. Organized by Upper School history and economics teacher Meghan Mulhern, students pitched ideas designed to address a social, political, and/or environmental issue.
“It was a great opportunity for students interested in entrepreneurship to ask alumni questions and also for help in thinking through their ideas,” says Mulhern. She sees the event as a terrific way to unite the Sidwell Friends community, while working to address major inequities in our broader national and global community.
“Our students are eager to grow as engaged and thoughtful citizens,” says Natalie Randolph ’98 Endowed Director of Equity, Justice, and Community. “This center will be a powerful and unique resource for our community to connect with others, empowering and motivating students to become more actively involved. This is how Sidwell Friends will be a better steward for the city, nation, and world.”