with Kandace Thomas and Rebecca Shahmoon-Shanok
Similar to and enhanced by the practice of mindfulness, it takes personal commitment, conscious effort, self- and conjoined regulation, as well as intentional resource allocation to implement diversity, inclusion and equity principles in schools or other organizations. Why bother? Schools and human service organizations are the beating heart of society so moving towards fairness and calmness through compassionate, open communication across differences improves physical, social and emotional wellness in individuals, organizations, and society. The Diversity-Informed-Tenets (D-I-T) offer a context for addressing historical and structural racism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia and other systems of oppression with a step-by-step framework for change within ourselves, our organizations and our systems of care.
To promote equity and inclusion, this presentation explicitly integrates both ways of being – mindfulness and the D-I-T. Using experiential exercises, lecture and discussion, the workshop introduces participants to the D-I-T’s via mindfulness practice grounded in self-regulation and compassion. The session is planned to enlarge awareness about both non-dominant and dominant ways of experiencing day-to-day life. As meditation is to mindfulness, the D-I-Tenets are useful to the extent that they are practiced. Developing awareness and making change within ourselves, our groups and our schools requires relationship, reflection, patience, perseverance, safety-making and risk-taking to achieve open dialogue within ourselves and in our social worlds.
Mindfulness is like a quiet yet powerful eagle which helps lift and carry the long, arduous effort of opening minds and hearts to differences. Repeatedly returning to mindfulness enhances conjoined, compassionate aspirations and supports the balance needed to do our work across chasms of inexperience with “the other”.
Kandace Thomas, MPP is a Senior Program Officer at the Irving Harris Foundation in Chicago. She leads the Foundation’s efforts to integrate early childhood development and child trauma knowledge and principles into systems serving young children, including domestic violence prevention and treatment programs, child welfare, and pediatric training programs. In this capacity, she manages grants and special projects in the fields of early childhood mental health as well as child trauma, domestic violence, reproductive health, and social justice. She has been a leader in the creation of the Diversity-Informed Infant Mental Health Tenets and of the expert Tenets Working Group. Kandace provides technical assistance, thought-leadership and field leadership in the areas of early childhood mental health, child trauma, and diversity and inclusion efforts. While guiding these efforts on behalf of the Foundation, Kandace is also a doctoral student at Erikson Institute, a premier graduate school in child development. Her research includes using mindfulness as a practice to buffer intergenerational trauma transmission within families. Kandace is an experienced presenter to many audiences and co-author of several articles. Prior to working at the Harris Foundation, Kandace co-founded Camp Sojourner, an overnight sleep away camp for girls, worked in intergovernmental policy and advocacy and studied child and family policy at the Harris School of Public Policy at The University of Chicago. A native of New York City’s South Bronx, Kandace graduated from Wesleyan University where her impulse to improve the world around her was clarified and accelerated.
Rebecca Shahmoon-Shanok, LCSW, PhD, until recently Founding Director, Institute for Infants, Children & Families, JBFCS in NYC currently serves as Senior Research Associate for Relationships for Growth & Learning, Clinical Psychology Program, New School for Social Research, is widely published and teaches nationally and abroad. A pioneer in integrating mental health consultation with direct services in childcare and Head Start, Rebecca has established peer play psychotherapy for young children as a successful intervention for widely varied challenges. The Institute she began and directed at JBFCS reached young, underserved children from zero through six and their families with transdisciplinary, model services, post-degree training for providers of all disciplines and state-of- the-science consultation to government, systems and agencies. An expert in Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) both for trauma and for developmental challenges, Rebecca studied Undoing Racism with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and has been part of a national workgroup within the Harris Foundation’s Professional Development Network addressing Tenets for Diversity-Informed Practice (where she encountered cherished colleague, Kandace Thomas). With degrees and experience in clinical psychology, social work, early childhood education and extensive experience in psychoanalysis, infant mental health and in mindfulness, Rebecca has merged mindfulness into early childhood mental health practice, supervision and literature. An active board member of ZERO TO THREE, she is founder and past co-president of the New York Zero-to- Three Network. With colleagues within ZERO TO THREE, Rebecca developed, has written and taught extensively about Reflective Supervision since its inception in the late 1980’s, increasingly highlighting it as staff wellness.