Meet Our Diversity Champion of the Month
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultant
Having attended George Washington Elementary, Luther Burbank Middle School, and John Burroughs High School, Stefani McCoy considers Burbank part of her home. When the role of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant opened, she knew she had to apply. The intersections between her own lived experiences growing up in Burbank and those of the BUSD students striving to have their voices heard was undeniable.
With a master’s in Global Affairs and Humanitarian Assistance from New York University and her current studies at USC’s doctoral of Education in Organizational Change and Leadership program, Stefani is looking to ensure all students, teachers, parents, and administration feel supported within our school environment and can thrive.
Q: Where did your commitment to diversity and inclusion come from? What sparked it?
A: My passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion stems from a personal lived experience. I grew up as a Black Queer woman in a low-income single-parent household, which gave me a lot of firsthand knowledge and experience of inequities. I’ve felt excluded and discriminated against in institutional policies and practices. These adverse experiences have provided me with ample knowledge and skills to understand the needs of our entire Burbank school community, including staff, students, partners, stakeholders, and various other Burbank Unified School District entities. We must envision and create an atmosphere and structure that embodies inclusivity, belonging, and acceptance.
Q: What did you do before you started working with the District?
A: I have been a leader and an advocate for organizational, structural change within education for my entire career. I most recently served as the Co-chair for New York University’s Racial Justice Task Force. I led the NYU faculty, staff, and students to create an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and just environment. In addition, I worked to create a comprehensive curriculum focusing on global race relations and race theory, increase faculty representation and scholarship opportunities for our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. Simultaneously, I served as the Executive Director of The Peace Project, Inc., a non-profit for peace education that focused on human rights, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and advocacy.
Q: What’s your vision for the DEI committee and for the District?
A: I have two very clear goals for the DEI committee, both of equal importance.
The first is to conduct a thorough audit of diversity, equity, and inclusion in BUSD and make recommendations regarding the future implementation of policy, practice, instruction, and engagement.
The second is to influence positive change within the organizational culture of BUSD and create one that models behavior, beliefs, attitudes, traditions, and perspectives aligned with equity, equality, and inclusion principles. With the help of the BUSD community, I plan to effect this positive change on the performances, decisions, human resources, and individual responses to DEI challenges.
Q: What inspires you to do this work?
A: My inspiration is rooted in my personal experiences in educational institutions that didn’t support my academic ability to succeed. Educational achievement is the cornerstone of social equity. Social equity considers systemic inequalities to ensure everyone in a community has access to the same opportunities and outcomes. Anything is possible with the help of the community.
Q: What’s your most effective strategy in overcoming resistance to change, especially within the DEI space?
A: Listening is one of my most effective strategies. It is vital for others to feel heard, seen, and valued. I have a very keen ability to understand people's needs, primarily through strong emotions and challenging conversations. A genuine need and desire are at the heart of every disagreement or challenging conversation. The key is to work with people to incorporate collective needs and desires into impactful solutions. When I encounter individuals who are entirely resistant to change, I will leave room to educate any informed thoughts, beliefs, or perspectives that will hopefully influence their outlook on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Education is the fundamental way to affect change within our society.
Nominate a Diversity Champion
We are looking to create a school community that values its diversity and encourages inclusion in every facet of school life--from students to teachers, from custodians to administrators. We want to share how BUSD employees, families, and the extended community are using superpowers to make a better, more inclusive world built on diversity and respect. Is that you or someone you know? We would love to highlight this good work. Take a moment and let us know by filling out this nomination form.