DA's Next Director of Diversity, Equity and Engagement

Dear Students, Colleagues, Parents, Alumni and Trustees, Following a five-month national search, I am excited to announce the appointment of Jason Mundy as Durham Academy’s next Director of Diversity, Equity and Engagement, beginning July 1. Jason will bring more than 25 years of experience, innovation and leadership in independent schools — teaching and supporting students and families, creating and executing DEI strategic plans, building and managing a DEI team, expanding diversity in hiring and enrollment, developing and leading faculty and staff training, auditing and strengthening curricula, and cultivating relationships with outside organizations.  Jason will strengthen DA at a pivotal time — building on the work of Kemi Nonez during her tenure as director (2012–2021), leading the team of DEE Coordinators who have energetically advanced the work this year, completing and executing our DEE Strategic Plan, and guiding DA’s continued progress toward a more intersectional and pervasive attitude of inclusion. As written in the DEE Mission Statement adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2004 and amended in 2008:

Diversity enlivens, improves and enriches the intellectual and social environment of an academic community and encompasses all aspects of humanity including racial identity, sex, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, age and gender identity.” Click here to read the full statement and more about our DEE initiatives and coordinators.

Jason Mundy

A North Carolina native who has had Durham Academy in his sights for many years, Jason writes, “DA is recognized nationally for both the good work done at the school and for its talented faculty and staff. I appreciate the deliberate thought and strategic planning that assembled the diverse team who prepares students to be moral, happy, productive members of an inclusive society.” Since 2016, Jason has served as Director of Equity and Community Engagement at Kent Denver School in Colorado. There he initiated, wrote and instituted the school’s first comprehensive DEI strategic plan. He collaborated with division heads to strengthen the recruitment, retention and leadership development of teachers and administrators of color. He created a service-learning model in middle school and led the school community through many challenging conversations.  As Kent Denver Head of School Dr. Rand Harrington put it, “Though the dialogue has gotten more bitter, divided and challenging everywhere in this country, Jason listens deeply. He has a softness to him that shows he cares. But he also has a steely resolve. Jason has a bedrock sense of justice and integrity. He can work with people on all sides of the spectrum. His patience and consistency keep bringing people back to the table. He’s made remarkable progress with this approach.” Jason’s experience as an independent school teacher, senior administrator and DEI Director will allow him to support DA’s mission immediately. “Working at schools across the country deepened my understanding of the importance of building camaraderie with educators who are, increasingly, asked to do more complex work,” he wrote in his application. “By taking the time to build relationships, I strive to establish trust so that I may champion new initiatives and coax the best out of the people whose contributions will enable those efforts to succeed.”  After earning a BA in history from Duke University and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University, Jason has taught history, English, human development and/or African American literature classes every year — even as he served as a dean, college counselor, middle school director, upper school director, associate headmaster and DEI Director in varied schools in Virginia and Colorado.  He founded the Colorado Diversity Network (CDN) in 2016, which provides DEI learning sessions for Colorado teachers, offers training sessions for Heads of School and conducts hiring fairs for candidates of color. Jason currently serves on the boards of the Center for Spiritual and Ethical EducationThe Challenge Foundation and Breakthrough Kent Denver

Our search for a director of equity and inclusion began in August and launched nationally after Labor Day with this position announcement. To ensure the most effective and inclusive process possible, we partnered with Carney Sandoe & Associates, which has extensive experience recruiting and matching educators with leadership positions at independent schools. I am profoundly grateful to CS&A, to our search advisory committee (roster below), and to the more than 80 DA students, faculty, staff, administrators, parents and trustees who met our four finalist candidates, shared candid feedback and helped us discern the best possible match for this role.  From their first conversation with Jason, our search advisory committee appreciated his deep experience, authentic self-awareness and quick sense of humor. During Jason’s two-day visit in December, those who met with him were most impressed by his commitment to students, his warm humility and the practical wisdom gleaned from a variety of roles in a range of schools and locations.  Selena Keegan (DA parent, trustee and chair of the board’s DEE Committee) met Jason in his semifinalist interview and observed him with various DA groups during his finalist visit. She writes, “Jason demonstrates genuine compassion, deep and multi-faceted experience, and a calm demeanor, all of which will make him a tremendous partner who will help the entire DA community live up to the promises of our school mission and DEE mission statement in everything we do.” Jazmin Garcia Smith (Senior Dean of College Counseling, DA parent and the DEE Team’s liaison to the Administrative Team during this year) adds: “Jason’s deep well of personal and professional experience combined with his ability to authentically connect with others and build trust make him the ideal person to lead our DEE Team and larger community forward." Jason looks forward to introducing himself to the DA community at our April 6 Engagement Night. I look forward to learning from Jason, to supporting him as he brings fresh ideas to his role, and to collaborating with all of you to continue making DA a community in which (in the words of our DEE Mission Statement) “all members of our community feel welcomed, empowered, responsible and safe. Amidst our diversity we stand united in the pursuit of academic excellence and the development of individual capabilities.”  Please join me in welcoming Jason to the DA community. Thank you for your collaboration and support of this essential work.  Sincerely,  Michael Ulku-Steiner

DEE Director Search Advisory Committee

  • Owen Bryant, Upper School History Teacher and alumna, Preschool and Lower School parent
  • Jean Coene, Fourth-Grade Teacher and Middle School parent
  • Christian Hairston-Randleman, Preschool Director, Middle School parent and parent of alumni
  • Rashaunte Hinnant Mitchell, Lower and Middle School parent and board DEE Committee member
  • Jazmin Garcia Smith, Senior Dean of College Counseling, Upper School DEE Coordinator and Lower School parent
  • Selena Keegan, Chair of the board’s DEE Committee and Middle School parent
  • Kristen Klein, Assistant Head of School
  • Crawford Leavoy, Director of Speech & Debate and Global Programs Coordinator
  • Victoria Muradi, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Preschool, Lower School parent
  • Edwin Poston, Treasurer of Board of Trustees, Lower and Middle School parent
  • Michael Ulku-Steiner, Head of School and parent of alumni
  • Bonnie Wang, Upper School Chinese Teacher, ACTFL D&I Task Force, Board Member of FLANC and SCOLT