In 1986, NAIS hosted the first National Conference for Teachers and Administrators of Color in Independent Schools in Reston, Virginia. Two hundred people from 25 states attended the first conference, which later became the NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC). This conference grew out of early equity initiatives at NAIS and was intended to be a place where faculty and staff of color, whose numbers represented a small portion of the workforce in independent schools, could come together to talk about their experiences, find support, and make progress in their career advancement. The Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), which takes place as a parallel event held in the same host city, was started in 1993.
In 2001, in response to questions about whether the conference was still meeting its original purpose, the NAIS board reaffirmed that PoCC is a conference “by and for people of color and inclusive of all.” In 2006, the board again reaffirmed the mission and purpose of PoCC by stating, “PoCC should be designed for people of color as it relates to their roles in independent schools. Its programming should include offerings that support people of color as they pursue strategies for success and leadership. Its focus should be on providing a sanctuary and networking opportunity for people of color and allies in independent schools as we build and sustain inclusive school communities.”
The conference continually evolves to respond to the needs of people of color in independent schools, adapting to fresh thinking and what’s happening in the broader world. It aims to support educators from a broad range of schools that are at various points on their journey to create inclusive and welcoming school communities.
More than 35 years after its founding, the annual NAIS People of Color Conference and Student Diversity Leadership Conference bring together 8,000 independent school adults and students.