Derrick Gay

Dr. Derrick Gay, the 2020 Faculty In-Service Keynote Speaker, is an Educational Consultant with a book of clients ranging from financial services, to orchestras and foundations, to both domestic and international schools.  

The mission of Dr. Gay’s work is to support communities in cultivating strategy to engage in Diversity and Inclusion work. Through leadership training, executive coaching, designing strategy, as well as delivering keynote speeches and facilitating workshops, he encourages clients to step out of their comfort zone and approach these topics through a deeply personal lens. 

Dr. Gay’s work has been featured in a plethora of publications including The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, and The Huffington Post, and he is also the producer of two TEDx Talks: “The Double-Edged Sword” and “Why Elephants Hold the Key to Success in the 21st Century.” 

In Dr. Gay’s keynote presentation to The Hun School faculty and staff and subsequent workshops, he focused on topics pertaining to the challenges of remote learning, racial inclusion and belonging, strategies for teaching culturally diverse students, the difference between non-racism and anti-racism, and the obstacles of discussing race. He also provided strategies for navigating  difficult conversations. 

Dr. Stephen Fabian, chair of the History and Global Studies department, appreciated Dr. Gay’s down-to-earth and inclusive approach to Diversity and Inclusion work: 

“Dr. Gay made everyone feel like they have something to contribute to the process of heightening cultural competency, and he emphasized that all of this work begins with understanding oneself better and working to become more aware of our own, sometimes hidden, biases,” he said. “ Dr. Gay encouraged us to bring to life “mirrors and windows” for all students: the mirror in which they can see themselves as positive historical and cultural characters, and the windows through which they can look and learn about others different from themselves.” 

As Dr. Gay discussed the struggles of Covid-19 and the systematic racism and social injustice that is facing America today, he shared an image of the Chinese symbol for the word crisis. The symbol is composed of two separate characters; the first character represents a time of danger and the second represents a time of opportunity. And, as Dr. Gay mentioned throughout his speech, it is important for  educators and facilitators to shift the mindset to focus on the later: a time of opportunity. 

Chinese symbol for crisis

Dr. Gay asked faculty and staff to identify challenges that they may face when discussing race amongst colleagues, students, family, or friends; concerns emerged around the fear of misunderstanding, fear of judgement, lack of vocabulary or knowledge, fear of saying the wrong thing, and more. 

Dr. Gay was then able to demonstrate the importance of a positive mind shift:  “What we thought were challenges, we can shift and turn into opportunities.” 

Dr. Gay encouraged faculty and staff to return to the framework of Cultural Competency: self awareness and understanding, understanding of other perspectives, and bridging the gap between both to foster an inclusive environment. 

The keynote presentation concluded with one important piece of advice from Dr Gay on how to approach crucial conversations regarding race: “This work is deeply personal and cannot be a purely intellectual endeavor. You don’t have to put all of your business out there, but you can still share your emotions in a professional matter. ” 

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