This article is published as part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series.
Rhonda Broussard founded Beloved Community to create sustainable paths to diverse schools and diverse communities. Her vision for Beloved Community is informed by her leadership in diverse by design schools and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s goal “ to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”
Rhonda’s education consulting practice, The Ochosi Group, focuses on school transformation and aligning adult culture with key beliefs for teaching and learning. Clients include education non-profits, public charter schools, and independent schools that serve niche populations and Transcend Education, inspiring breakthrough innovative school redesign. In fall 2015, Rhonda launched the blog One Good Question, that features an interview series with education leaders around the world. The blog is answering Rhonda’s one good question about education investments and surfacing the good questions of others.
Rhonda has been a leader in diversity and international education initiatives throughout her 23-year career in public education. In 2007, she founded St. Louis Language Immersion Schools (SLLIS), a charter management organization designed to be Missouri’s first K-12 immersion and International Baccalaureate education continuum. SLLIS is an intentionally diverse school community and is the first public school in the US to offer this rigorous academic model to a majority minority student population and socio-economically diverse student population. Under Rhonda’s leadership, the the first three schools in the network became IB World Authorized Schools, and SLLIS achieved an AYP of 92%, equivalent to Accreditation with Distinction from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Rhonda served as President of SLLIS until June 2015.
Rhonda is a Pahara-Aspen Institute Fellow and a member of the Aspen Global Leaders Network. Rhonda is a 2014 recipient of the Eisenhower Fellowship for International Leadership. During her fellowship she studied whole system education reform and teacher education practices in Finland and New Zealand. Rhonda has received numerous recognitions including 2008 30 Leaders 30 Years by Breakthrough Collaborative, 2009 St. Louis Luminary by St. Louis Magazine, 2010 Buzz List by ALIVE Magazine, 2010 YMCA Strong Kids Zealot by The Monsanto Family YMCA, 2012 Diverse Business Leader by St. Louis Business Journal, 2013 Social Sector Excellence Award by St. Louis New Leaders Council, and 2015 People Who Inspire by Delux Magazine.
Rhonda is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana. She has taught French in public schools in New York City, Connecticut, California and St. Louis and has earned National Board Certification, the most prestigious teaching credential in the United States. Rhonda began her education reform career as a teenage staff member with the Breakthrough Collaborative in New Orleans, Kansas City and San Francisco.
Rhonda completed her undergraduate studies in French and Secondary Education at Washington University in St. Louis and a Master of Arts degree in French Studies from New York University’s Institute of French Studies. Growing up in Louisiana inspired Rhonda to research the francophone world and dedicate herself to exploring the connections between francophone regions. As a result, in addition to learning French since childhood, she has studied and conducted research in metropolitan France, Cameroon and Martinique.
Rhonda and her bilingual family live New Orleans. She studies, performs and occasionally teaches traditional dances from the African diaspora.
Read the interview below with Rhonda to learn more about what inspires her to give.
How do you give back?
I'm a long-time donor to my alma mater Washington University in St. Louis. I also serve on the following boards: PROMO, Missouri Public Charter School Association, Washington University Campus Y. In addition, my family supports a number of organizations, including: JDRF, PROMO, American Heart Association
What inspired you to start giving?
My family, my mother and grandmothers in particular, were great role models for service, generosity, and advocacy. We've always been giving back to our communities. Because of the generosity of strangers, I was able to complete my undergraduate degree with very little student debt and that's made a huge difference in my capacity to care for my family. I've been paying that gift forward since I graduated.
What does giving mean to you? Why do you continue to give your time, talents, money, or more to your community?
Giving is an investment in our future. Whether my gifts are monetary or voluntary, I appreciate opportunities to contribute to a more just world.
What would you tell others who are looking to start giving back? Share a piece of advice will help them get started.
Giving is extremely personal. Start with the causes that are closest to your heart. Build relationships with the organization's leaders and ask how you can help.
Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.
As a mother of young children, I'm always looking for ways to engage them in volunteer time. When they were 4 and 7, we served Thanksgiving dinner at our local refugee resettlement organization. I loved watching them serve and ask how else they could help!