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THRIVE Participant Perspective--St. Andrew's School

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

Each Friday, we'll bring you the perspective of a nonprofit in our THRIVE accelerator program and share a little about their organization.

St. Andrew's School

This session of THRIVE, facilitated as always by our partners at The Spark Mill, covered Equity Based HR and was presented by Lindsey O'Pries. We asked the team from St. Andrew's School to tell us about their experience this week.

What are you hoping to get out of this program?

Cyndy Weldon-Lassiter, Head of School: We really liked the racial equity lens [the program offered] and how that looks across our entire organization. Any time that we can set aside to work together as a group is beneficial as a team and to the school as a whole.

Eric Elliott, Operations Officer: To look at every aspect of our organization and how we can make decisions that push the equity ball forward. How do we write policies, recruit staff, what are all phases and all touch points?

Tell us about your experience in the program.

Amanda Kennedy, Chief Advancement Officer: Each presentation has presented best practices succinctly and comprehensively, in alignment with how we understand them as an organization. The question for us was and continues to be, how we refine and utilize what we learn. How do we re-identify ourselves with that equity lens we were looking for? I loved Robert Dortch’s [from the Robins Foundation] presentation because I’m a fundraiser by heart and vocation. He was on point on every aspect of fundraising. For those who are less familiar, it can be overwhelming. He spoke to all levels of knowledge.

Eric : It’s been encouraging that 50% of the time we go into speed networking or we talk to someone from the larger cohort, we find someone we want to reach out to or wants to reach out to us to talk about admissions, our programming model, our decisions around COVID.

Kate O'Donnell, Principal: One thing I really appreciated is that equity is so big and so robust and yet in every session I've seen twin pillars of people and practices. There is that through-line of the practices and structural dimensions that are essential but at same time it's always been about the people. The program pays attention to those twin pillars in a way that’s clear, concise, and action-oriented.

From Lindsey's Presentation

Cyndy: When Damon [Jiggets from Peter Paul] shared about organizational culture, we identified with the hard decisions he had to make in his organization. To see someone also wrestle with being aligned with how we see ourselves, and doing the hard work to ensure we stay true to who we say we are.

What did you learn, or feel spoke to you about today?

Eric: Seeing where equity touches each phase of the HR lifecycle and how to tailor practices at each phase.

From Lindsey's Presentation

Scott Walker, Board Chair: Representing the board in this, two things have been helpful. 1) all of this done through an equity lens is helping so when we go back to the board and try to bring them along, it’s easier for me to talk to them and 2) getting this amount of time with the people actually doing the work at St. Andrew's. Sometimes at the board level you get isolated from that.

Cyndy: Lindsey was amazing. She joined us in our small group conversation and helped remind us to give ourselves kudos in areas where we’ve already made an impact and focus on areas where we want to see growth.

How do you see this applying to your organization?

Scott: We immediately went back and started revisiting mission and vision. We were already talking about that, but it was a real catalyst to getting that done.

Amanda: All of the worksheets can really help us, even if they take a long time to do so. It will be worth it to get through them.

Cyndy: Lindsey said our mission "lives brighter and bolder with diverse members in our community,” and “what people think about you matters.” Damon said in his presentation, more importantly, what they say about you matters. Language is something we’ve been talking about in these sessions, and when we think about the people we want to bring into our community, what they say about us is just as important as what they think about us.


At St. Andrew’s School they believe every child deserves an education that equips them to thrive.

In 1894, founder Grace Arents was confident in her belief that a solid education was essential in preparing children to build successful lives as adults. More than 120 years later the school continues to be guided by that founding principle, educating children academically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually through a progressive, whole-child approach.

Rooted in today’s best practices, our student-centered academic program is designed to develop passionate, lifelong learners. Children learn more deeply when they make their own connections through hands-on experiences and student-led questioning; this is the cornerstone of our model.


The THRIVE accelerator program provides an opportunity to look beyond the current challenges and obstacles and plan out a direct and streamlined path forward. Organizations will spend concentrated time planning and executing real-time solutions with guided facilitation.

The second cohort focuses on helping organizations engage leading practices in program design, community engagement, board development, fundraising, storytelling, and HR/operations with a racial equity lens. This experience creates a set time for teams of boards and staff to come together to look at their organization holistically and then apply what they are learning to their specific context.

THRIVE was created through collaboration between The Collaboratory of Virginia and The Spark Mill, and is currently sponsored by Carmax, Robins Foundation, and Virginia Community Capital.

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