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.

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.

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

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)
Presentation: Women in Leadership

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”


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

Annual CEESA Conference (Helsinki, Finland)

21st Century Learning (Hong Kong)

AASSA Annual Educators’ Conference (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

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


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 »


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

Presented at NAIS Annual Conference
February 2019

Download »

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

Presented at NAIS Annual Conference
February 2019

Download »

Diversity as a Component of Educational Excellence

Prepared by Coreen Hester, Former Head, The American School in London
February 2012

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 »

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