Taking action to build agency and belonging among high school students who want to make an impact in their communities
Noor Bagheri is in the class of 2022 at Francis Parker School. She leads the school’s Middle Eastern Culture Club, Photo Club, and literary and art magazine called BEMA. In her free time, Noor enjoys film photography, scrolling through Tumblr, learning about interior design, and going to concerts with friends. Noor will be pursuing her passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion at New York University, where she plans to combine her interest in DEI with her love of cinema to explore the economic biases and harmful stereotypes that pervade mainstream media.
Noor attended the first RSDS conference and has come back to plan this year’s summit with the Outreach Committee. She hopes that RSDS will be an opportunity for students to venture into uncomfortable yet productive dialogue and cultivate new friendships.
Hannah McNeill is a Senior at Francis Parker School. She is a committed and engaged advocate at her school. She has been on Dance Team for four years, ASB for three years, serves as an Equity Council member, and is the CO-President of an identity-focused club named SPECTRUM. She is also a member of the National Honors Society. Outside of school she works at Pure Indoor Cycling, babysits, practices film photography, and loves to bake.
After Hannah’s memorable experience at RSDS 2021, she knew she wanted to apply for RSDS 2022 committee so she could continue learning through critical analyses of our lived experiences and provide a sense of community to someone else. This year Hannah is the leader of the Affinity Spaces Committee. Her goal for this year's Affinity Spaces is not only to engage with those with whom we share experiences and similar identities, but also to expand our sphere of awareness by understanding the experiences of those who are different.
Sophie White is a Junior at Francis Parker School and has been working with RSDS since its foundation last year. Sophie has an immense passion for social justice and spends her time on campus striving to create an inclusive and equitable community. Sophie is a part of her school’s ASB, head of the Equity Council, and a member of the National Honors Society. In her free time, Sophie likes to grab coffee with her friends, watch movies, and visit different museums around San Diego.
Over the past two years, Sophie has enjoyed connecting with different participants from last year's conference and can’t wait to create a memorable experience for this year. As the co-lead of the Workshops committee, Sophie hopes to create an experience for delegates that fosters tangible change and thoughtful reflection.
Vanessa Galindo is currently a sophomore at Francis Parker School. Some of her key areas of interest is LGBTQ+ rights and equality for all. She enjoys going shopping with friends and family during her spare time. Playing her favorite sports which include soccer, lacrosse, and her favorite, cheer. She also enjoys playing the guitar and watching Netflix. She believes her most important people in her life are her family and friends. She wanted to participate in the work of RSDS because she wants people to be able to embrace who they are and be able to come together with other people and relate or learn from them. Vanessa believes that RSDS will help people to be able to do just that, learn. She hopes the conference will be a place of impact and inspiration in a person’s life.
Christen came to Parker in 2015 and currently holds the position of Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. She has been in education for over 14 years. She’s worked as an English teacher, a facilitator, trainer, and diversity practitioner. Her work focuses on the incorporation of multicultural curriculum, anti-bias training, and SEED facilitation. As a biracial woman of Latina descent, diversity, multiculturalism, and social justice have always been integral to her work as an educator.
In 2010, Christen was the co-chair of the National Association of Independent School’s People of Color Conference and was a member of Call to Action from 2009 to 2012, a diversity think tank comprised of national leaders for equity and social justice within independent schools and educational organizations.
Christen has a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Spanish from Christendom College in Virginia and is working toward a graduate degree.
A proud southern California native, Valissa Thomas serves as the Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging ( DEIB) at Francis Parker School in Linda Vista, San Diego. Valissa’s commitment and passion to DEIB is rooted in self-awareness, compassion, authenticity, advocacy, and community building. Along with these passions, Valissa enjoys reading books, painting, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.