Category: Dec 2019 Newsletter

“Your Dance Card”: Updates in GVP’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Journey

Your Dance Card
Inclusion is when everyone is asked to dance...
Equity is when no one gets a special invitation.
Diversity is when everyone is invited to the dance.
- Dr. Johnetta B. Cole

Diversity, equity and inclusion are values that community-wide and globally are increasingly acknowledged as intentional commitments to work towards and stand in. At GVP, while we are founded upon these core principles, our work in 2020 will center around integrating DEI into all of our systems, practices, and perspectives. We have new DEI creative educational trainings for our volunteers and mentors. We are crafting new tools to use in the classroom to amplify the voices of lived experience and celebrate each and every one of us representing our own story. Diversity, most simply put, is the differences that make us human beings.

“I try not to use diversity and inclusion without also talking about equity and accessibility. Equity is making sure that everybody gets the same invitation, and accessibility is making sure that everyone who comes to this party has their needs accommodated,” Dr. Cole explains (The Chautauquan Daily).  Her insights reflect that a commitment to DEI is about always exploring and enhancing the ways in which we function. It is through that type of exploration that the founders of GVP had the courage and insight to form this institution. And it is through this type of commitment that GVP will continue to travel this groundbreaking path in its DEI work.

We are honored to be on this journey together, and as we travel this path, we welcome our collective community in the design of this next chapter. Our DEI Specialist, Jai Simpson-Joseph, Esq. welcomes your emails and insights at


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Basmat Ahmed Joins the GVP Team as Community Engagement Associate!

This fall, GVP began the search for a new visionary to spearhead Community Engagement, a fiercely compassionate team member focused on building coalitions and partnerships, supporting the robust volunteer initiative, and championing GVP’s outreach and service programs.

Basmat is GVP's newly hired Community Engagement Associate. She brings to GVP her own refugee background story and lived experiences, a strong community organizing background, and tight ties to the Clarkston community. For over ten years, Basmat has worked in community organizing and building in Clarkston, GA in collaboration with various councils, organizations and stakeholders.

Some highlights of Basmat’s journey include her 2009 role as part of a research team, visiting 12 refugee camps in Chad and conducting surveys for peace and reconciliation. In 2010, she started her first official job as a community organizer with Refugee Family Services. Basmat coordinated Community Building Academies for youth and adults with Dekalb Opportunity Zone, a project of United Way Atlanta. She also served as the school liaison for two years for the Arabic population in DeKalb county with New American Pathways. Since 2011, she has worked as a community-building consultant with Georgia Council on developmental disabilities (GCDD). In this role, Basmat and other grassroots leaders became focused on the bigger picture in the city of Clarkston, focusing on building connections across cultures and sharing opportunities by using an Asset Based Community Development approach to engage the community in impactful projects.

Our new CEA, in collaboration with the GVP team, will support the development of vibrant and sustainable engagement programs across all stakeholders, including volunteers, families, students, staff, mentors, interns, and community partners. To say that GVP is fortunate to welcome Basmat Ahmed doesn’t do the word "welcome" justice. We are delighted and honored to have her as a part of the GVP family and team!


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From GVP to the Met Opera: A Dream Come True for Ms. Kimberli

GVP’s beloved Ms. Kimberli Render will be moving to New York City and leaving her current position as Arts Coordinator. During the fall semester, Kimberli worked remotely for several weeks while performing in The Metropolitan Opera’s production of Porgy & Bess.

Kimberli recently received an offer she couldn’t refuse - a full time gig singing for a new opera! The show will premiere in March at the Lincoln Center. This opportunity is a dream come true for Ms. Kimberli, but it's alsobittersweet. In an email to staff, she wrote, “It has been such a joy and honor to serve alongside each of you at GVP these past 3 years. The faculty and staff tirelessly work to build a safe, inclusive, and nurturing environment. And I am proud to have been a part of the awesome work happening at GVP.”

Staff, students, and volunteers will miss the creative energy, attention to detail, and warm enthusiasm that Kimberli brought to her position at GVP. We wish her the best. Break a leg, Ms. Kim!


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Students Bring Knowledge to Life in “Lifeworks” Author’s Tea

During GVP's second Authors’ Tea of the year, entitled “Lifeworks,” students showcased what they have learned about women who dedicate their lives and careers to their communities as workers, leaders, and advocates! The students conducted research and prepared monologues about different careers or important historical or contemporary figures. On the day of the Author's Tea, each student, dressed in a costume that evoked the subject of her research, held a dramatic tableau—a statue frozen in a museum. When an audience member approached and pushed the performer’s button, she came to life to deliver her monologue.

The students’ preparation of and performance of these monologues were a powerful opportunity to engage with the core components of the GVP curriculum: students refined their written communication skills and learned technical vocabulary related to their chosen subjects. One student, who wants to become a veterinarian, learned the word ‘stethoscope’ and how the tool is used. In her monologue, she wrote: “At work I use needles to give animals medicine. I use a stethoscope to listen to animals’ hearts.”

AtGVP, we look forward to providing more opportunities like these for our students to not only grow and develop academically, but also to become confident, empowered young women eager to express themselves and inspire each other through curiosity and creativity.

In case you missed it, take a moment to watch the video below for a couple of sample monologues. We look forward to seeing you at the next Authors’ Tea on March 6th.