Endowing Equity, Justice, and Community
The concept of repairing the world has motivated Lora and Jeffrey Drezner (P ’03, ’06, GP ’34) throughout their lives and careers as healthcare and educational professionals. It also drives their philanthropic endeavors.
The increase of hate crimes and violence, along with the continued promulgation of institutionalized racism, contributed to their sense of urgency in supporting a variety of responses to community needs. As stunned as they were by the divisive events of the past few years, the Drezners were moved by Bryan Garman’s and the Board of Trustees’ vision and commitment to the Quaker values of equity, justice, and community (EJC) as an integral part of the School’s curriculum. Seeking to foster kindness and compassion in the world, and inspired by a belief in the value of a Sidwell Friends education, the Drezners decided to permanently fund the EJC director position.
On Friday, February 19, Head of School Bryan Garman announced the newly endowed chair when he presented the Equity, Justice, and Community Strategic Action Plan, which was created in response to the Board of Trustees Minute on Racial Justice.
“The Drezners are elated, as am I,” Garman wrote, “that Natalie Randolph ’98 will be the first person to hold this esteemed all-School chair.”
For her part, Lora Drezner, says, “We’ve followed the idea that there is always this continuing call to pursue a more just world.” A retired family nurse practitioner and an HIV and oncology nurse, she applied this tenet to her volunteer involvement with numerous organizations, from hospice care to the couple’s current decade-long involvement with Bread for the City, a DC organization that provides vulnerable residents with food, clothing, medical and dental care, and legal and social services. “Early on in the HIV epidemic, we were both unexpectedly on the front lines in Los Angeles,” Lora Drezner says. “We saw such tragedy, needless loss, and devastating sadness, but we were heartened that so many good people stepped up and did the right thing.”
Parents of Michael ’03 and Dani ’06, the Drezners share an appreciation for how Sidwell Friends has helped to shape their children and foster a deeper sense of service and belonging. “We saw that their Quaker education was a critical part of their development, their maturation in focusing on community,” Jeffrey Drezner, a current trustee, says, “and ultimately made a huge difference in who they are in this world today. It is our hope that this initiative will make a significant difference in what people believe and how they deal with truth.”
In addition to the Drezner family’s generous gift, the Class of 1971 recently established an endowment fund in celebration of their 50th Reunion that will partially support the work of the EJC Strategic Action Plan. Members of the Class of 1970 have also established the Class of 1970 Equity, Justice and Community Fund in honor of their own 50th Reunion.
The funding of a permanent endowment for the EJC director position strengthens the School’s ability to fulfill its commitment to matters of equity, justice, and community and sustain continuous leadership. Philanthropic gifts like these help to alleviate budgetary pressure from a reliance on tuition revenue. Endowing chairs and programs, such as the fully funded Señora Supervía Chair for Spanish and Latin American Studies and the African and African American Studies Chair (currently in active fundraising*), enables the School to shape programs and sustain practices that tie directly to Quaker values. Such programs ultimately help the School attract and retain highly trained and qualified teachers and academic professionals.
Randolph now serves on the board of directors at Bread for the City as part of the endowed chair arrangement. A DC native, she expressed deep gratitude for the opportunity to connect stated aspirations with practices service learning and real-world involvement. As the director of the Center for Ethical Leadership, Randolph is currently co-teaching a new senior seminar with Upper School Academic Dean Robert Gross called “Metropolitan Policy and the DMV,” which examines DC history and contemporary issues in the Capital region.
According to Randolph, this endowed chair “really makes a statement that EJC work is important, forever and always, and as an alumna, it’s even more impactful to me personally.”
*If you would like more information, please contact Mary Carrasco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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