NCSD2015: Workshop A4

Talking Diversity: Strategies for Effectively Communicating the Value of School Integration

In this workshop, participants will be given the opportunity to hear from community leaders and communication professionals on tactics for successfully implementing a communications plan in support of school integration. The audience will learn about the latest trends in promoting school diversity and integration and related awareness and training campaigns and will come to understand how to apply key messaging to the distinct and varying audiences in their communities. Panelists will provide examples of their own successful strategic communications campaigns around school integration. Audience members will then have the opportunity to practice and develop their skills in breakout groups.


  • Jeff MillerVice President for Communications, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Dr. Amy Hawn Nelson, Director of Social Research, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and Director, Institute for Social Capital, Inc. 
  • Melissa Moskowitz, Director of Student Support Services, New York City Department of Education and parent/advocate for integrated and inclusive public schools

Moderated by Dr. Bradley Scott, Director of Educational Transformation & Innovation, Intercultural Development Research Association and Director, South Central Collaborative for Equity



Jeff Miller of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights opened the session with a presentation on the elements of strategic communications planning, focusing on Goals (What do we want?), Targets (Who can give it to us?), Messages (What do they need to hear?), Messengers (Who do they need to hear from?), and Tactics (How will we deliver the messages?). He also spoke about framing messages around shared values, common-sense solutions, and collective action. Amy Hawn Nelson shared the work of many in Charlotte, including her colleague Sandra Conway, around their use of Network Centered Organizing to guide discourse and action around educational equity in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C. The strategy of change utilizes networks around the community to support understanding through the strategic use of events and media to establish a shared story, engage community members by targeting influences and creating tools for discussion and engagement, and directing advocacy to action towards systemic change.  Melissa Moskowitz, a parent, educator and activist, closed out the presentation by focusing on her work using the metaphor of salmon swimming upstream to describe her efforts in Brooklyn, N.Y. She used anecdotes but also examples of how she helped to develop a group called, Parents for Middle School Equity, their communication tactics involving  parent surveys on the current admissions process for middle school, and the use of panel presentations to share information with other constituents in her community. Most recently, she said her group’s efforts are to hand out information flyers at middle school fairs to build awareness in the community, which included statistics and the value of school integration, as well as a formal petition, to build more momentum around this vital topic of admissions reform to promote school integration in NYC. After the presentations, workshop participants gathered in groups to respond to a series of prompts regarding elements and challenges to communicating the importance of school integration.

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