Friends’ Central School seeks to cultivate a diverse community of individuals who are respected and affirmed as they engage in learning and other school experiences. We strive to create a community of belonging where members of FCS can bring their authentic selves to campus, embracing all identities, including race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexual identity, class, religion, disability, family structure, nationality, and other social identities. We are engaged in an ongoing journey to confront and unlearn bias both personally and collectively so we can become a more equitable, anti-bias school.
Fundamental to the Religious Society of Friends' testimony and practice is our commitment to embodying our values through the policies, practices and culture we build together. We call upon all members of our community — faculty, staff, students, administrators, parents, trustees, and alumni/ae — to join us in this work.
Department of Institutional Diversity, Equity, & Justice
Friends’ Central intentionally aligns student learning with greater purpose. We are engaged in an ongoing journey to confront and unlearn bias both personally and collectively so we can become a more equitable, anti-bias school. In service of this, we now have a nine-member Department of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Justice. The goal of this Office is to support, assist, and enhance Friends’ Central’s commitment to eliminating harmful bias and discrimination, to close opportunity gaps, and to advance critical conversations and initiatives that promote inclusivity, equity, and social justice on campus and beyond.
The DEJ Department spearheads efforts to ensure FCS in an anti-racist, anti-bias (ABAR) educational community. We aim to (1) close opportunity gaps, (2) advance critical conversations and initiatives that promote equity, inclusivity, and social justice, and (3) enhance our community’s commitment to eliminating harmful bias and discrimination.
Director of Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Inclusivity
Identity exploration, cultural asset-framing, honoring BIPOC resilience, and cultivating space for agency represents the heart of Nefetaria’s work. Her approach to equity and justice blends scholarship and practice through a creative lens. Nefetaria’s ethos is student-centered and systems-oriented. She is an educator, researcher, mentor, and strategist whose “identity is wrapped up in equity” (Teach Us All). Nefetaria is currently pursuing a doctorate in Sociocultural and Community-based Education at the University of Delaware. She earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Foundations from Widener University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Africana Studies from the University of Delaware.
Senior Staff for Programming
The Senior Staff for Programming (SSP) is the core leadership team for the Department of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Justice at FCS. They help to guide the vision and execution of DEJ initiatives in all facets of school life
As a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), a parent of 3 FCS alums and our Coordinator for Quaker Affairs since 2006, Robyn Richmond is deeply committed to the work of cultivating a community of belonging and holding up our understanding that striving for diversity, equity and inclusion is woven into the fabric of Quaker faith and practice. She is grateful to have the opportunity to participate in DEI work across divisions and departments. Robyn has clerked colleague study groups and participated in ongoing DEI work through conferences and workshops including our FCS Different Voices, Same Vision Student Conference, AWARE, and the Race Institute. Her work has included co-clerking the FCS Diversity Board and School Life Committee of the Board or Trustees; working with Quaker Youth Leadership students;supporting Middle and Upper School Diversity Committees; centering equity and justice topics in FCS’ Quaker School Life course; and focusing Meeting for Worship query reflection on equity and inclusion topics.
Coordinator of Gender, Sexuality, and Consent Education
Al Vernacchio is the Coordinator of Gender, Sexuality, and Consent Education at Friends’ Central School, and also a member of the Upper School English department. Al is forthright, funny, and compassionate as he supports school communities and families in developing healthy sexuality in young people of all ages. A nationally recognized expert in human sexuality education, Al frequently appears in print media and on podcasts. His book For Goodness Sex: A Sex-Positive Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Teens, originally published in 2014, will be reissued in the winter of 2023 in an updated and expanded edition, including an audiobook. Al has given four TED Talks, lectures, and presents workshops throughout the country, and has appeared on national programs such as NPR’s “Morning Edition”, “1A”, and “Radio Times”. Al earned his BA in Theology from St. Joseph's University and his MSEd in Human Sexuality Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
School Ambassadors for Equity & Justice (Diversity Clerks)
The Diversity Clerks lead the divisional efforts of the Department of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Justice at FCS. They implement DEJ programming, guide Diversity Committees, and serve as a liaison for students and parents/caregivers.
Lower School Diversity Clerk
Tanya Muse '02 has been committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion at Friends' Central for the last 10+ years. In the classroom, she created a social justice curriculum to use in N-5th Grade classrooms. She was awarded a stipend and presented research on Alums of Color and their stories in Independent Schools. Tanya has participated in numerous professional development days around DEI work, including the NAIS People of Color Conference (POCC) which she has attended for over 13 years.
Middle School Diversity Clerk
Lauren is deeply committed to diversity, equity and inclusion work at Friends Central and beyond. She has been an advisor to the Middle School student diversity/service group (Students of Culture) for the past 12 years. In addition, she helped start our MS affinity groups 10 years ago and continues to develop curriculum for the affinity group program. She has served on the Middle School diversity committee for many years. In addition she has attended various conferences and workshops that focus on DEBI and has also presented at the NAIS People of Color Conference.
Lower School Diversity Clerk
In her role as the 5th grade literacy teacher, Christie's commitment to DEI work grew from her belief that students need windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors as they venture into the world of literature. She is dedicated to creating spaces where all students can feel seen not only by their community members but also in the curriculum their teachers present. Christie has co-clerked the Lower School Diversity Committee and collaborated on assemblies that celebrate diversity and inclusion in FCS’ Lower School community.
Upper School Diversity Clerk
Jacob Fogel '07 says that the importance of DEI work was impressed upon him as a student at FCS. Seeing windows and mirrors in the classroom, providing safe spaces for uncomfortable conversations, and celebrating the similarities across differences are some of the essential motivations for him when working with young people. He has had the opportunity to continue learning at many conferences over the years as an attendee, presenter, and facilitator. He is particularly proud of the work FCS has done around student-led affinity groups and FCS' very own conference Different Voices, Same Vision.
Upper School Diversity Clerk
Rebecca Benjamin has been a member of the diversity committee since 2015 and a co-clerk since September 2017. Rebecca is passionate about working to create a school where all community members can bring their whole selves every day. As part of the diversity committee, Rebecca has organized student focus groups on student experience, she has supported the affinity group programming, and the student diversity conference. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work is a large part of why she became a teacher and she is excited to be doing this work at Friends’ Central.