GFS Alumnae Board member and current GFS parent Tiane Hill ’03 will be leading the newly formed GFS Black Alumnae Association (BAA), which will hold its first meeting on Thursday, December 3 at 7:00 p.m. GFS alumnae who identify as representing the African diaspora and are interested in participating can register here.
The formation of a Black Alumnae Association was one of the key takeaways from the listening sessions held with alumnae as part of the school’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives, with many participants expressing the wish for a dedicated space to connect with one another as well as current students. As an extension of our Alumnae Board, the GFS Black Alumnae Association seeks to build partnerships and provide relevant programming and events for the broader GFS community while amplifying Black alumnae perspectives. Some of the goals include building a partnership with the Black Student Association (BSA), as well as with other area independent schools’ Black alumni associations, creating a mentorship program for current students, and developing a speaker series.
We chatted with Tiane about her hopes and plans for the group:
What is the main goal for the GFS Black Alumnae Association?
Tiane: The BAA is an active network of alumnae from the African diaspora who wish to meet the needs of and advance the interests of both alumnae and current students. The BAA will encourage Black alumnae engagement with the broader GFS community through mentorship opportunities for current students and relevant programming for alumnae.
Why is it important for GFS alumnae to have this group?
Firstly, we asked for it, and the school heard us. The administration listened and will continue to listen as the BAA strives to amplify the Black alum voice in a way that will edify the entire GFS community. Secondly, and perhaps this is what's most important, the BAA will not serve only alumnae, but it will be a resource for current students. While the BAA will focus on enrichment and events that cater to alumnae, we will set out to support current students through mentorship and networking opportunities.
What are some of the key initiatives or projects you are excited about launching with the GFS BAA?
I’m excited to hear the thoughts and input of other Black alumnae who choose to join the group, but some of the ideas we are already thinking about include:
mentorship program for current students
Black Women in Leadership speaker series
partnership with Baltimore area Black alumni associations from other schools
Black Sorority Panel discussion for Upper Schoolers
Happy Hour Networking event
What would you tell an alumna who may be interested in the GFS BAA but is not sure she wants to participate?
I would first ask, why not? Why not join a group of women with a shared experience in a space where you can learn, grow and help other women and girls who look like you do the same? Your voice and your experience are what will make the BAA more diverse in thought and action. Also, with the BAA being in the early stages of development, you will have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and work of the group.
Alumnae Board President Anne Deady ’01 echoed Tiane’s excitement about the group. “I am so pleased that GFS has established the Black Alumnae Association, creating a critical space for Black alumnae to share their voices,” Anne said. “Having the BAA as part of our alumnae community is an important step towards making our campus a supportive place for every Garrison graduate. Along with the founding members of the BAA, I am excited to engage with more Black alumnae at the Forest. Their contributions will be an essential part of shaping the future of GFS, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.”
The creation of the Black Alumnae Association mirrors work that is happening on the GFS campus as well, where identity-based affinity groups give students a space to connect with one another, learn from their shared experiences and develop a better understanding of how their own identities shape their experiences. While there are many opportunities for the entire community—for both students and alumnae—to engage and support one another, identity-based groups provide an important space for underrepresented groups to build community and delve deeper into their unique experiences and perspectives.
If you have questions about the group or are interested in participating but are unable to attend the Zoom meeting, please email GFSBAA@gfs.org.