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News and Events

Introducing Rashad Norris, our 2019 SEL Symposium Keynote Speaker!

POSTED ON June 8, 2019

Announcing Our Symposium Keynote: Rashad Norris on Authentically Engaging Youth of Color with a Culturally Relevant Approach 

by Anne Arias

Each year as we are preparing for our annual Whole Child, Whole Day: A Social & Emotional Learning Symposium, we ask our Advisory Committee to guide us in identifying what would set the tone for the day in our Plenary session, when we all gather together to begin this day of cross-sector learning.  

This spring, our Advisory Committee recommended we seek a keynote speaker who… 

  • has experience in a youth development program as a youth participant or adult staff or volunteer 
  • will energize and engage our participants, and inspire us to reflect on why the work we do—and the way we do it—is so important 
  • is a person of color, to align with our focus on how we can serve youth of color better 
  • is from King County, or a similar community 

Rashad Norris, who currently serves as Director of Community Engagement at Highline College, received several personal recommendations from members of our Committee. Given his work building the Black and Brown Male Summit (which will celebrate 10 years this fall) and the Young Educated Ladies Leading Conference—just to name a few—we didn’t hesitate to reach out and invite him to present. We are thrilled to announce he accepted our invitation! 

Mona Grife and I recently met with Rashad to get to know each other and talk about what the keynote would look like. He exudes warmth and passion for working in education—it was clear why he is known for building strong relationships with youth. He posed several essential questions we want to share with you today, as an opportunity to reflect on your work before arriving at the Symposium on August 9. 

  • What does a culturally relevant space look like? 
  • What is it that you need to release? What’s holding you back from truly engaging authentically with youth? 

We encourage you to take some time in the next few months to dive deeper into these questions. Write out your answers, get out some markers or crayons and illustrate a response, start a conversation with a colleague or friend, or find some other way to reflect both on what you think you know and what you want to learn.  You can also post your reflections and illustrations online and join us in advocating for whole child supports, equitable learning spaces, and culturally relevant engagement with these hashtags: #WholeChildWholeDay, #SELKC, #YouthDevelopment 

To get to know Rashad a little bit better, we encourage you to check out the following links. Otherwise, we hope you will join us to hear him ground us in the importance of the day at 9 a.m. on August 9. The event sold out last year and registration is required in advance, so we encourage you to register today!