A message from Christine Pina, chief advancement officer
It’s been gratifying to serve the Ancients of Miss Porter’s School over these past few months. The COVID pandemic has allowed us to gather virtually, renew old friendships, explore new ones and reimagine relationships with MPS. The global response to this health crisis and structural racism has allowed us to examine how Miss Porter’s School educates young women who will shape a changing world and also allowed us to highlight those Ancients who are already engaged in making the change.
For several years, Porter’s has been intentionally doing the work of amplifying women’s voices in our effort to address our own institutional blind spots with regard to race, ethnicity, religion, geography, gender, ability, class and sexual orientation. We know that identity matters, and we are committed to doing the work that allows all members of our community to feel that they truly belong. You’ll learn more about our communitywide efforts which range from intentional work by our Board of Trustees, Alumnae Board and also by our faculty/staff and students in the next volume of The Bulletin.
This work is hard and we invite you to do it with us. As an institution we will not always hit the mark but we will continue to persevere. Our work and public displays of support are not “performative.” We are genuinely and earnestly attempting to uplift ideas, voices and communities in our words and actions and as with anything worth doing, it takes practice. In our work with Dr. Darnisa Amante Jacskon of Disruptive Equity Education Project (DEEP), she reminds us that the work of inclusion and belonging doesn’t happen overnight and that to make effective change we need to trust each other. If we want people to be allies in this work, we have to hold them accountable with love.
Through our actions and words, we are doing the work of becoming an inclusive community. It is ongoing and, in fact, will never be complete, and we need you to both hold us accountable AND be supportive. We have much to learn and as with all learning, we don’t always get it right the first or even the second or third time, but it is in the practicing that we get better, we learn more and we achieve our goals of making our community one where everyone belongs.
“A community will not engage in this kind of work if they don’t see it modeled.” – Dr. Darnisa Amante Jackson
A message from Shiang Sobieski, senior leadership gift officer, global resources
It has been the most exciting two and a half years since I started at the Alumnae & Development office at Miss Porter’s School (MPS) as the senior leadership gift officer of global resources. During this time, I have been able to connect with families and Ancients across the globe. Witnessing the footprint that Miss Porter’s School has made and still is making on this planet is truly amazing.
Building long-lasting relationships with current and past families, students and Ancients, and friends of Miss Porter’s School is one of my most important goals. I have enjoyed every moment of my work with the families — from the first time welcoming our currently enrolled girls and their families in their homeland — to getting to know them and their families, learning their reasons of coming to the school, hearing their dreams for the future and their belief that being at Porter’s will guide them to achieve their goals. For Ancients, I love listening about their experiences at Porter’s and how the school has shaped them into the person they are today. They have shared how the education and life lessons they received from Porter’s impacts their decisions in everyday life. They talk about the girls they met while at school who became lifelong friends – and how the unique bond between them is one that lasts forever. Our Ancients know they can connect with someone in every corner of the world – the Porter’s network is like no other.
It is not unusual for me to be talking at midnight with international families, parents or Ancients. It has become even more important since the pandemic hit because we had to halt our domestic and international travel. Although the pandemic affected the way we traditionally connected with our international community, we were also able to bring more people together virtually from the comfort of their homes and offices. What we used to do with the in-person visits in different parts of the world, we now are able to do more on Zoom and virtual visits. I love the fact that I am always connected with families and Ancients even when we are physically apart. Knowing that I can solve a problem, answer a question, and connect with Ancients makes my job both challenging and fulfilling.
I look forward to a brighter near future when we will be able to travel and can be together again with the international members of our community. Until then, the focus of my work with our international community members is to remember, learn, listen, and build upon our connections from the past, stay current and work on the MPS mission. I will continue to build long-lasting relationships for the future of Miss Porter’s School.
The “new” 60 Main Street is now open!
Venerable campus hub 60 Main reopened on March 26 with a ribbon cutting and celebratory Class of 2021 senior dinner. Head of School Katherine Windsor, Ed.D., cut the ribbon flanked by the Nova Nine and Chief Financial and Operating Officer Michael Bergin P’19. Dr. Windsor and the student leaders then led the senior class into the expanded, light-filled space for dinner. The building reopened to the rest of the campus the following day.
The former red-brick hotel, purchased by Sarah Porter in 1866, now features nearly 7,000 square feet of new space, a dining hall that can seat the entire campus community in one sitting, an elevator to facilitate access, and renovated parlors, offices and dorm rooms. The $22 million project was almost entirely financed by philanthropic gifts from the Miss Porter’s School community.
Fostering a more inclusive community: Foundational Series begins April 25
The Alumnae Board’s Committee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) invites all Ancients to participate in new programming designed to help build a more inclusive and equitable alumnae community.
On April 25 and 27, the committee will host the first of several online sessions in the “MPS Foundational Series.” These facilitated conversations and learning experiences can enable participants to develop a common understanding of DEIB, learn more about themselves and others, and explore ways in which the alumnae community can be more inclusive in the future.
All Ancients with an email address have received a letter of invitation from co-chairs Saba Brelvi ’91 and Deana Jones-Jean ’99. The DEIB committee will host the online sessions on Sunday, April 25, 3 p.m. EDT, and Tuesday, April 27, at 1 p.m. EDT.
The DEIB panel was formed last fall to ensure that alumnae engagement activities represent, support and respond to the diverse needs of our Ancients. Committee members have undergone coaching by Dr. Arnisa Amante-Jackson, the CEO and founder of the Disruption Equity Education Project (DEEP), which has been retained by Miss Porter’s School to help Ancients in planning, visioning and creating a DEIB road map over the next three years.
Upcoming Ancient events
Miss Porter’s School has exciting new Farmington Chats and Book Club sessions planned for next month focused around nature and sustainability in recognition of Earth Day! Upcoming Farmington Chats scheduled on April 13, and April 29, will feature in-depth discussions on Climate Action: Big Solutions for Big Challenges and Holistic Environmentalism and Grassroots Activism, respectively. Ancients also have the opportunity to discuss the book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer together during the April MPS Book Club sessions on April 8 and 15. The Alumnae Board DEIB Committee also invites Ancients to participate in their Foundational Series on April 25 and 27. To learn more about these and future conversations and to register, please visit the Ancient Events page.
Our sincere thanks to our fabulous February and March Farmington Chat hosts: Missy Casscells-Hamby ’78, Robin Diamonte P’22, Carolina Trevisi Fuentes ’96, Sami Gan ’13, India Howell ’75, Maggie Johndrow ’06, Lisa Johnson ’95, Kaitlyn Kabbash ’14, Ellie Large ’81, Divya Prakash ’09, Vanessa Roanhorse ’96, Pauline Roteta ’07, Annie Simonds ’90, Tina Tong ’86, and Sarah Wolf ’95.
Save the Date! Farmington Give Day will take place on April 20. All gifts, up to $125,000, will be matched by an anonymous group of generous donors. This is your opportunity to double your impact.
As an important member of our Miss Porter’s School community, your participation and support will make a difference on #FarmingtonGiveDay! Your gift will help ensure that young women leaders of tomorrow receive a strong, innovative education that will allow them to go on to shape a changing world.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-409-3623.
Calling all Ancients!
Looking for a job? Want to chat with someone in your field? Interested in a mentoring relationship?
If you answered yes to any of the above, Graduway, the school’s alumnae database, is for you. By logging onto missportersschoolancients.org and setting up an account, you will have easy access to the more than 1,100 Ancients who are already connected.
“What’s astounding is that 84 percent of those 1,100 people are willing to help you,” said Sarah Blanchard, director of alumnae relations. “For example, Graduway includes 156 potential mentors in business and industry, 111 in health services and the sciences, and 126 in education and libraries.”
When Pauline Roteta ’07 wanted to start her own company, she used Graduway to find mentor Nancy White Wheeler ’90. “Nancy helped me step into fintech,” said Pauline, now CEO of Pasito, a tech startup focused on helping new parents organize their finances. “Nancy gave me the courage to go for my crazy idea and she shared resources and contacts in the industry.”
“Get on Graduway,” Pauline advised. “It’s a curated database of highly accomplished women who are part of the Porter’s community. I don’t think there is a better place to find a mentor!”
Thank you for your feedback!
Some 1,821 of you took the time to respond to our survey this winter — thank you! Nearly all of you are proud of your association with Miss Porter’s School and two-thirds of you are interested in becoming more involved.
“The fact that the survey had a record-breaking 42 percent response rate and that 500 Ancients said they are ready to assist the school right now shows us that engagement is high,” said Sarah Blanchard, director of alumnae relations. “We now have a much better picture of what our alumnae’s needs and desires are, and we will be working with the Alumnae Board to engage Ancients in developing, facilitating and creating new programming.”
The Alumnae & Development Office is now reviewing the survey findings, along with 3,631 individual comments, and will share them with the Alumnae Board and Board of Trustees at their April meetings. An executive summary of the findings will be available to the school community by June 30.
We look forward to gathering in person on campus when it is safe to do so. Until then, we hope you will continue to engage by participating in our virtual programming.
- To stay informed with School and Ancients’ accomplishments, please frequently visit the new Porter’s Voices blog.
- To connect and offer or seek mentor relationships, please register on the school’s networking platform.
- To learn about the many ways to become involved with school, please complete the volunteer form.