Personal Spotlight – Jennifer O’Neill Kaan

Meet Jennifer O’Neill Kaan, our Lead of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. 

Jennifer has been an English Teacher at Ardingly college for 15 years, but she has recently made the transition into a new role, as of September 2021: Lead of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the College. Having studied English and Theology at university, and starting the Feminist Society nine years ago, Jennifer has always expressed a passion for creating an open space to bring students together and discuss issues of global significance, as well as encouraging students to discuss their own lived experiences of EDI.

Jennifer is enthused about the rich diversity at Ardingly, where students of all different backgrounds and values study, and she is committed to empowering students to invest in ideas and implement changes from the ground up.  For example, Jennifer works with the EDI House Reps who have worked enthusiastically to develop ideas in their Houses and EDI societies. These have continued to be spaces of intellectual curiosity, thoughtful conversation and solidarity. She would like to encourage students to come along to New Era, LGBTQIA+ or Anti-Racism societies at lunchtimes, to add their voices to this important conversation.

When asked about EDI at Ardingly Jennifer said “As we work towards fostering an inclusive, compassionate and principled environment in which all voices are heard and celebrated, we are reminded of the significance of the College’s traditional motto, ‘Beati Mundo Corde’ (Blessed are the Pure in Heart). As a community which strives to prepare our students to be ‘World-Ready’, fully engaged with the questions and challenges they will face, our motto is resonant when reimagined as a 21st century concern for social justice, equality and compassion and seeing these as guiding principles and inspiration”.

Whether it is during events surrounding International Women’s Day, Black History Month, or the diversity week in the coming March, Jennifer aims to foster the involvement of both staff and students alike, and she is excited to see the EDI department grow and develop in the future.