One Heart Committee promotes equity within the school community in the new year


Leah Allen '22

The One Heart Committee works to advance equity and inclusion within the Sacred Heart community.

Sacred Heart Greenwich introduced the One Heart Committee last fall as a means of advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) within the school community.  The establishment of this committee comes as part of a series of initiatives by Sacred Heart in response to the racial reckoning and calls for widespread social change that occurred over the summer of 2020.  In the new year, the group hopes to continue creating spaces for open dialogue among students, parents, and faculty.

Ms. Carmen Hughes P’27, ’31 and Mrs. Sandie O’Connor P’19, ’23 are the co-chairs of the One Heart Committee.  In a joint statement made to the King Street Chronicle, Ms. Hughes and Mrs. O’Connor expressed their desire to better fulfill the values outlined in Sacred Heart’s Goals and Criteria.

After the events of last summer, Sacred Heart launched a series of diversity initiatives, including an alumnae panel discussing the impact of media on social change.  Courtesy of

“While we have a foundation to build on, we can do more and we can do better,” Mrs. O’Connor said.  “Our Board, school leadership, and faculty agree and are deeply involved in defining the way forward which sets us up for success.  To support this mindset, the One Heart Committee serves as the catalyst for our renewed focus and commitment to living out the goals more consistently and to increase awareness, understanding, inclusion, and celebration of all members of our community.”

Long-term goals for the group include offering allyship and anti-racism training for students, faculty, and trustees along with reassessing the school curriculum to include diverse perspectives.  In addition, the committee hopes to continue sponsoring events promoting dialogue and increase the overall diversity among the student body, faculty, staff, administration, and trustees.

The One Heart Committee also consists of an advisory group of teachers and students who serve as voices for the school community.  Mr. John Zwack, Assistant Head of Middle School and Middle School Academic Dean, and Mrs. Kerry Bader, Director of Upper School Social Justice and Service and Senior Seminar Service and Theology Teacher, work as co-chairs of the One Heart Advisory Group.

Senior Yve Lafontant and junior Kayla Malcolm-Joseph act as student co-leads for the group.  Yve and Kayla spent the first half of this school year hosting student focus groups in which participants discussed their individual experiences at Sacred Heart and provided input on ways that the school can promote a more equitable environment. 

This month, the advisory group will expand these meetings to hold an all-school assembly to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  The meeting will include a video presentation in which various students will recite lines of a speech by late Civil Rights activist Mr. John Lewis and a virtual performance by the Upper School Madrigals.  During the assembly, students will break up into groups to discuss current social justice issues and how they relate to the Civil Rights Movement.

Yve hopes that the event will promote meaningful change within the student body.  She believes that encouraging honest and respectful dialogue amongst students is essential in order for students to learn from one another and to improve the school community as a whole.

Yve Lafontant ’21, student co-lead of the One Heart Committee Advisory group, speaks during the 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. prayer service.  Courtesy of Ms. Rachel Zurheide

“The most important part is to have everyone participate, thus, Upper School student leaders will lead in the Middle School and Lower School during the discussions,” Yve said.  “I believe that if we continue to educate young minds and adults in the Sacred Heart community on social justice and contemporary issues, together we will create a safe and wholesome environment for all.  In some ways, the One Heart Committee will maintain our school community’s engagement by facilitating discussions and fun educational activities.”

The mission of the One Heart Committee is to “build and strengthen a more diverse and inclusive Sacred Heart Greenwich environment where all feel valued, respected, and experience a sense of belonging,” and also “to develop inclusion, empathy, and cultural intelligence as essential skills for our students,” according to

Kayla believes that this mission relates to Goal Three of Sacred Heart’s Goals and Criteria, “a social awareness which impels to action.”  As a student co-lead of the advisory group, Kayla is passionate about engaging her peers in meaningful conversations surrounding social justice.  She believes that these dialogues will develop cultural awareness within her classmates, and credits that as the first step towards change.

“I hope that our future initiatives will encourage students to feel confident having conversations about race rather than shying away from them,” Kayla said.  “Students will not be emboldened to bring change to their communities until they are comfortable having these conversations.”

Featured Image by Leah Allen ’22