Building Connections, Building Legacy: Alumni of Color Reunion
Building Connections, Building Legacy: Alumni of Color Reunion

On June 18, the School hosted its first-ever Alumni of Color Reunion. Fifty alumni, including faculty and staff members and friends of the School, participated in the event, which included brunch, panel discussions, and a special memorial to faculty of color who have passed away. Nichole R. Phillips '89 and Sean Nash '89 (in absentia) paid tribute to Barbara Brown; Kevin Herrera '12 honored Julia Wu Trethaway; and Keith Holmes '77 shared remembrances of Walter J. Crain.

Panel discussions included "Our Trailblazers," featuring Gigi Pan '77, Nader Tehrani '81, Dina D. Strachan '84, and Sunil Desai '87, who talked about how education is key to upward mobility and remains crucial to overcoming what can seem like unreasonable odds and unbearable challenges.

Andre Swanston '99, Nailah Ellis, and Timberlake '00, and Claire Brooks '07 talked about their career trajectory after graduating from Hotchkiss. Their stories "taught us the importance of building on legacy by leveraging social networks and friendships formed at and beyond Hotchkiss for the purposes of creating 'new' legacy," said Nichole Phillips '89, chair of the Alumni of Color Committee.

In discussing philanthropy and community activism, John E. Ellis '74, Ivan Henderson '95, and Alexsis M. Blakely '00 stressed the value of applying time, talents, and funding to initiate social change.

Commenting on the reunion, Phillips said, "By the close of the day, the Alumni of Color Committee (AOCC) of the Board of Governors (BOG) had welcomed and welcomed back alumni of color to celebrate, connect, and participate in building 'new' legacy—rooted in a Hotchkiss legacy that began 125 years ago: a legacy that has supplied us with vivid memories, shaped solid friendships, and leaves us with unwavering hope in an even brighter future. The Alumni of Color's celebration of the School first 125 years and our inaugural Reunion event are both an outgrowth and natural development of Maria Harrison Bissell Hotchkiss's benevolent spirit and long-lasting legacy."