It seems unbelievable that Marlo Thomas’s tenure at GDS has not yet even lasted a full semester. In the past few months, Thomas has smoothly integrated herself into the GDS community as the new Director of Diversity and Inclusion.
Thomas didn’t always see herself working as a diversity director. She grew up in the Bronx and played Division-I basketball in college (which is why her favorite time of the year is college basketball season). Her passion for sports was immense, and she spent much of her life thinking she wanted to work in the sports industry.
As she was pursuing work as an athletic director at high schools, Thomas took many jobs in alternative education, working with marginalized kids who have suffered trauma and neglect in their lives. With a desire to get back to her athletic roots, she applied for a job as an athletic director and, after spending much time during the interview discussing the intersection of her experience with gender equity and athletics, was offered the position of diversity director at Roland Park Country School a year and a half later.
Thomas said she is happy where she ended up.
“I am a true believer that the universe works in the way it’s supposed to,” she said. “I think I am truly walking in my purpose, doing just what I’m supposed to be doing.”
When applying to jobs later in life, Thomas was attracted to the importance placed on diversity, equity and inclusion in the GDS community. She was impressed by the representation of diversity throughout the students and the faculty.
“There are just so many aspects of representation that I feel are present here in this school that aligns itself really with what the mission says,” Thomas said.
She said she was also attracted to GDS’s inviting feeling, not only for her but for her two children. As the mother of an eleventh-grader and a fifth-grader at GDS, Thomas has been very happy with how the community has welcomed her and her entire family.
As the director of diversity, Thomas has her hands full. One of her most urgent projects is to facilitate the movement of the Lower/Middle School campus. As the campuses merge, her main goal is to create a full understanding of not only what it means to be a diverse school but also a school that is truly inclusive. Thomas is excited to work on cultivating an inclusive community at the two campuses.
In addition to merging the two schools, another one of her main goals is to get to know the students in the GDS community. Thomas loves the way the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) office is set up with a common area so she can get to know GDS students. She hopes that all GDS students know that the DEI office and its capabilities are open to everyone regardless of identity. Working with affinity group leaders, student government leaders and peer leadership mentors have been other opportunities for Thomas to interact with the student body.
“There are people within this building and the walls around them who see them, who hear them, who value the voice of young people,” Thomas said. “And they should know that they are loved.”