Diversity Collaborative

The Diversity Collaborative recognizes the value of diverse perspectives and the importance of including members of groups that have previously been underrepresented in international school leadership. The Collaborative will go beyond compliance and tolerance, to championing inclusion, and respecting and celebrating diversity.

Brave Books, Critical Conversations, and Calls to Action

We share with you a padlet of resources inspired by Ibram X. Kendi’s work and gathered by ISS Director of Curriculum & Professional Development Laura Benson: https://padlet.com/lbenson3/antiracist. Explore a collection of Black voices, media, history, and joy; you’ll also find resources for educating yourself and students about antiracism and systemic racism, and steps for change.

The Diversity Collaborative is committed to creating a more diverse, inclusive, equitable and just environment among the leadership of the international school community. This collaborative hopes to utilize the talents of leaders in education to create lasting changes in the way we engage, support and promote educators who encompass a broad range of identities.

Diversity Collaborative Research Study

During the spring of 2019, the Diversity Collaborative, a voluntary group of international educators, initiated a research study by partnering with ISC Research and George Mason University. The goal was to survey the field of accredited international schools to establish a baseline of information in the international school sector about school leadership and diversity. The study was distributed to approximately 2,676 accredited international schools. Download the full report.

Research Brief

From Resistance To Sustainability And Leadership: Cultivating Diverse Leaders In International Schools

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Executive Summary

From Resistance To Sustainability And Leadership: Cultivating Diverse Leaders In International Schools

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All are encouraged to download and share this information broadly. The following are available: research brief, executive summary, video, and full report. As you or your potential audiences use this information, kindly complete this brief survey to help us with ongoing learning.

Panel Resources

If you are planning to moderate a DC panel and would like to use the Survey findings to frame the discussion, we encourage you to download the following materials. Both the sample script and PowerPoint Presentation are based on the results of the Diversity Collaborative survey and other DIEJ practices.

Diversity Collaborative Panel Presentation Template

Diversity Collaborative Panel Discussion Guide

Some of the participants in a recent Diversity Collaborative virtual meeting

Many Voices

All are welcome to join The Diversity Collaborative!

Throughout the school year, we meet virtually and in person (in conjunction with international education conferences) to join our voices together, regardless of where we live or work. At each meeting, we identify next projects and priorities and seek volunteers who have the interest and time to work on them through ad hoc committees. 

Between meetings, participants also stay in touch through Facebook and Linked-In groups. To participate, contact Anna Santori.

Little data exists on the diversity of international school leaders, but US data from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) suggests that while women and educators of color are increasingly assuming a variety of leadership roles in schools, still only about a third of US private school heads are female and only seven percent are educators of color. In a presentation on the leadership pipeline, Liz Duffy, ISS President, stressed that, “It’s important that the leadership of international schools reflects the increasing diversity of students and families in those schools, especially since many studies have shown that diverse teams make better decisions and such teams provide effective role models for all students.”

Diversity in leadership is an educational and moral imperative because it improves education through role modeling, inclusive decision making and equitable access and opportunity. Embracing diversity in leadership helps to improve our schools and the world.

With diversity comes:

  • More Learning
  • More Innovation
  • Broader Opportunity
  • Broader Access to Talent
  • Better Decisions
  • Better Performance

Attracting, sustaining and supporting talented leaders in our schools who reflect the diversity of our students, faculty and society benefits us all. Through leadership diversity, inclusion and excellence, international schools thrive and strengthen as learning communities.

We welcome all school community members to join in the effort to ensure we have a broad spectrum of people in leadership positions across our international schools. All who are ready to champion this stance are welcome.

Currently the Diversity Collaborative has assembled and identified five strategic focus areas:

  1. Pipeline Development
  2. Conference and Trainings
  3. Mentoring and Sponsorship
  4. Data Gathering
  5. Best practices

This bookmark is available at some of the upcoming conferences. Stop by to pick up your copy.
You can also download the booklist here.

Conference Calendar

Members of the Diversity Collaborative are presenting throughout the 2019/20 conference season.

September 2019

Women of Influence in Education Conference (HKIS, Hong Kong)
Keynote Presentation: “Reaching in, reaching out. Unlocking the Secrets of Leadership.”

Tri-Association Annual Educators’ Conference (Monterrey, Mexico)

October 2019

Teach to Lead Summit (Dubai, UAE)

IB Global Conference (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

NESA Fall Leadership Conference (Bangkok, Thailand)
Keynote Presentation: “DIVERSITY as a Systems Driver; Unlocking the potential of individuals and the community by celebrating difference.”

November 2019

EARCOS Annual Leadership Conference (Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia)

Breakfast for Women in Leadership

Panel: “Fostering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion”


Headmistresses Association of the East Conference (Princeton, NJ)

Presentation: “Women in Leadership”


AISA Leadership Conference (Cape Town, South Africa)

Presentation: “Moral Responsibility: The School Leaders’ Role in Cultivating A Diverse Faculty.”


Practical Strategies for Inclusion: Everyday Equity (LEVEL 5, China)


December 2019

NAIS People of Color Conference (Seattle, WA, USA)

January 2020

ELMLE Annual Conference (Budapest, Hungary)

The Leadership Series: Designing Equitable Schools (LEVEL 5, Bahrain)

February 2020

AAIE International Leadership Conference (New York, NY, USA)

AISH Oasis (New York, NY, USA)

NAIS Annual Conference (Philadelphia, PA, USA)

March 2020
Teacher Skills Forum (Amman, Jordan)

Annual CEESA Conference (Helsinki, Finland)

21st Century Learning (Hong Kong)

AASSA Annual Educators’ Conference (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

EARCOS Middle School Leadership Conference with Inaugural High School Strand (Hanoi, Vietnam)

April 2020

ECIS Annual Leadership Conference (Lisbon, Portugal)

NESA Spring Educators’ Conference

The Leadership Series: Designing Equitable Schools (LEVEL 5, China)

May 2020

Check back soon

June 2020

ISS Mary Anne Haas Women’s Symposium (Princeton, NJ, USA)

Multi-day workshop on women and leadership in international schools


Full Report

From Resistance to Sustainability and Leadership: Cultivating Diverse Leaders in International Schools

By Beverly D. Shaklee and Kimberley Daly, George Mason University; Liz Duffy and Dana Specker Watts, International Schools Services

Download »

Sustaining School Leaders: From the Pipeline through the Search Process and into the Profession

Spring 2018 edition of InterEd, Page 15

By Liz Duffy, ISS President, and Beth Pfannl, ISS Vice President Administrative Searches and Governance Services

Read More »


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice in Our International Schools

Presented at AAIE Action Through Conversation
June 2020

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Frameworks, Tools and Strategies for Promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Among International School Leadership

Presented at NESA Fall Leadership Conference
October 2019

Download »

From Resistance to Sustainability and Leadership: Cultivating Diverse Leaders in International Schools

Presented at NESA Fall Leadership Conference
October 2019

Download »

The School Leadership Pipeline: Ensuring Robust Leadership Development at Independent Schools

Presented at NAIS Annual Conference
February 2019

Download »

Women & Leadership: Patterns, Strategies and Tools for Navigating Your Leadership Journey

Presented at NAIS Annual Conference
February 2019

Download »


The AISH and AAIE Leadership Mentoring and Coaching Program

A mentor/mentee program for Heads of international schools


Learn More »

EARCOS Leadership Mentoring Program (ELM)

ISS Women’s Symposium

Annual workshop in Princeton for women educators working at international schools.

Led by Beth Pfannl
Learn More »

Related Organizations

Additional Reading

“Cultivating the Courage to Listen and the Ability to Hear: Systematically exploring diversity at the International School of Kenya through an ad hoc Diversity Working Group.”
Schmid, Alexa P., and Pamela Pappas. TIE Online, 20 June 2019.

“Diversity: Different for Everyone.”
Robinson, Erin, and Elizabeth Bray. UWCSEA Perspectives: Points of View, 7 Jun 2019.

Spotlight: Diversity in School Leadership.
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)

Leading for Impact: Australian guidelines for school leadership development.
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)

“Embedding Cultural Competency.”
Robinson, Erin. UWCSEA Perspectives: Points of View, 16 Jun 2017.

“Multiracial students in K-12 schools.”
Sykes, Alain. Encyclopedia of diversity in education, edited by J.A. Banks, New York: Sage Publications, 2012.

“Creating Possibilities in and through National Education: The Case of the Muslim Minority Education Project in Trace, Greece.”
Sykes, Alain Carmen and Margarita Markoviti. Adolescent Psychology in Today’s World: Global Perspectives on Risk, Relationships, and Development, edited by Michael J. Nakkula and Andrew J. Schneider-Munoz, vol. 2, Santa Barbara, California: PRAEGER, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2018, pp. 148-167.

“The Future is Female.”
Presented at EARCOS by Marc T. Frankel & Abigail DeLessio, Triangle Associates. November 2019.

Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race in School.
Abu El-Haj, Thea et al. Edited by Mica Pollock, The New Press, 2008.

“Proud to Be Me Day: Celebrating Diversity and Identity in the ISK Middle School.”
Schmid, Alexa P. TIE Online, 10 May 2019.

 “Who Talks? Who Listens? Taking ‘positionality’ seriously in Philosophy for Children.”
Reed-Sandoval, Amy and Alain Carmen Sykes. The Routledge International Handbook of Philosophy for Children, edited by Maughn Rollins Gregory et al., London: Routledge, 2016, pp. 219-226.

A Leader’s Guide to Leveraging Diversity.
Maltbia, Terrence E., and Anne Power. Routledge, 2008.


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