CWA Staffing Announcement

October 20, 2023

Dear Charles Wright Community, 


Last Friday, Denise Williams resigned from her role at Charles Wright Academy as the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. We thank her for her contributions over the last two years and wish her all the best in her next endeavor. 


Charles Wright Academy remains committed to the work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) and as such, I am honored to announce the appointment of DuChanté Davis as our Interim Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. You can read more about his background and appointment in today’s divisional newsletters. Please join us in congratulating DuChanté on this new opportunity.


Additionally, the structure that we already have in place for school-wide Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) efforts will continue, consisting of a team of three divisional coordinators, Lauren Lindskog-Greene in Beginning School and Lower School, Jess Jaramillo in Middle School, and DuChanté Davis, who will continue to oversee the Upper School. We believe that this transition can serve as an opportunity to reassert our commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Charles Wright Academy and to consider potential shifts in staffing and program that will be more effective in moving our community forward in this area. We look forward to partnering with Ms. Lindskog-Greene, Ms. Jaramillo, and Mr. Davis to improve our efforts to best support students and families in all divisions.


In addition to Charles Wright Academy’s continued commitment to the work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, we are also committed to open and transparent communication with our community. While many of you are likely unaware of these events, for those who would find additional context helpful or supportive, we would like to share the following details to correct any misrepresentation or inaccuracies that may be concerning or harmful to our community.


Last Friday, we hosted the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS) annual Fall Educators’ conference on our campus for more than 1,400 educators from member schools across the region. We were alerted that morning around 11:15 a.m. by an employee that Denise Williams planned to resign that day and that her wife, who was slated as a featured speaker for a session at 11:30 a.m., was planning to make a statement about it during the session. We immediately alerted NWAIS leadership of this, and discussed the need for any potential actions. While we were disappointed in this choice to use the conference session for this purpose – it was determined that we would not interrupt the session. Following completion of Ms. Williams’ wife’s hour-long presentation, a representative from NWAIS asked them to leave campus. An hour after that Ms. Williams appeared in the Human Resources office at CWA to tender her resignation. Our practice at CWA is always to escort employees off campus when there is an unexpected or immediate departure. Ms. Williams and her wife were then kindly accompanied to their vehicle by Laura Rose, our Director of Development and Communications, and they exited campus a little after 1:30 p.m.


A very small clip of the opening of the session, recorded on Ms. Williams’ cell phone, containing less than two minutes of footage from the hour-long full session, has now been posted to social media. Statements made about this clip erroneously attribute actions taken to Charles Wright Academy. Charles Wright Academy was merely the host site for this conference, which is organized and sponsored by a steering committee from NWAIS. Charles Wright Academy did not invite or accept applications from anyone to speak at this conference. We did not interrupt or silence any speakers or presenters. We did not ask speakers to present on any specific content topics. We were not responsible for the recording or live-streaming of any sessions, nor did we cut-off or remove anyone from campus in response to the content of any session or presentation. Lastly, we do not have any control over the content shared out or decisions about attendee access to the NWAIS conference app. I have shared with Mark Crotty and other members of NWAIS leadership that we are disheartened that this incident took place, the subsequent posts on the internet, and we regret that this incident has created controversy during an otherwise successful conference full of learning, community, and belonging for so many independent school educators and leaders.


I share, with permission, a statement from Mark Crotty, Executive Director of NWAIS, in response to this situation:


NWAIS appreciates the generosity of time and resources that Charles Wright Academy commits to hosting this day of learning for the broader NWAIS community. While Charles Wright hosts the conference, NWAIS is responsible, with the input of member schools, for the content design, speaker selection and invitations, as well as managing conference tools, such as the app used to navigate the event. NWAIS regrets and offers our apologies for any harm that the featured speaker session has caused the Charles Wright Community. NWAIS has removed the speakers from the conference app and has determined it best to not post the recording of the session in the follow-up resources.


After many thoughtful discussions over the course of the last week with members of Senior Leadership and the Board of Trustees, we felt it was necessary to ensure that the framing of the public posts on social media were given appropriate context, and clarity provided. We regret that this has detracted from the hard work and dedication of the conference organizers, impeded on the attendee experience, or created confusion and anxiety for our community regarding the incident. We remain committed to continuing the challenging work of creating an intentional culture at Charles Wright Academy where everyone knows that they belong, and to furthering the goals of DEIB in alignment with our Inclusion Statement and Strategic Vision 2030.


Please reach out if you have further questions or concerns or if you or your family need additional support.


With gratitude, 


Susan Rice

Head of School