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Celebrating Diversity: Young Women & Leadership

Blessed Sacrament Province

Five alumnae joined Notre Dame Academy Elementary School in a panel, “Celebrating Diversity: Young Women & Leadership”

Notre Dame Academy Elementary School celebrated the culmination of Black History Month by hosting a panel entitled: “Celebrating Diversity: Young Women & Leadership.” Created and planned by current parent, Ms. Colette Cesar, Notre Dame Academy Elementary School welcomed five African American alumnae to celebrate and share their stories, highlighting the importance of our differences. Girls from grades 3-8 witnessed a PowerPoint presentation on historically important African-American women, sang gospel songs and engaged in Q & A about diversity.

Each panelist, an alumna of Notre Dame Academy, spoke briefly about herself and her career; each emphasized what she had learned at Notre Dame that armed her for success.

Captain Avis Washington, current parent of an NDA girl and 1992 graduate, expressed how proud she was to be able to rise through the ranks of the New York Police Department, becoming the first African American to be appointed captain on Staten Island when others said she couldn’t do it.

Michele Fox, also a 1992 graduate, works in the fashion industry at Macy’s as the Director of Financial Planning. She works on Macy’s diversity and inclusion initiative, focusing on bringing the African American community together united in leadership and development.

Tanisha Smith-Franks, ’93 is currently working as an Education Liaison for the United Federation of Teachers and is very involved in community work focusing on increasing diversity in education on Staten Island.

Tracy Sullivan, a 1988 graduate, is a Clinical Social Worker at the NYC Department of Education.

Cheryl Marks ’87 has had a 20 year music career, recently serving as Vice President of Marketing at RCS Inspiration where she has crafted marketing plans for many A-List gospel stars.

All the panelists encouraged every student to find what they love to do and what would empower them to achieve their dreams. Although each woman has a different background and career path, they all share the bond of an NDA education, an education that prepared them for their roles as daughter, spouse, mother, church member, and leader. The presentation fittingly ended with students reading a Maya Angelou poem, “Phenomenal Woman.”

Notre Dame Academy was grateful to welcome back its distinguished alumnae to celebrate Black History Month.


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