An Independent School • Grades 5-12

T.J. Vassar Diversity and Community Committee

The T.J. Vassar Diversity and Community Committee (TJVDCC) meets on a regular basis to support the school community in its efforts to understand, embrace, and promote diversity and inclusion. We aim to foster a deep sense of belonging for every family at Lakeside and strive to build and strengthen our school community.

Every member of the Lakeside parent and guardian community is welcome to participate in the TJVDCC, irrespective of race or ethnicity. Creating an environment that is equitable and inclusive requires arduous, persistent, and long-term work, and we welcome allies of all backgrounds to help.

TJVDCC meetings are safe spaces where parents and guardians can share their concerns, experiences, and questions without fear of judgement. Attendees are welcome to simply attend and listen; together TJVDCC members have formed strong connections with each other and have learned so much from each other.

There are three workstreams within TJVDCC, and parents and guardians are welcome to get involved in any of them:

  • Communication: Build and maintain the PGA DEI website and update the DEI Resource Kit, a comprehensive list of books, articles, TED talks, and more. Provide updates to the school community via PawPrint updates, blog posts, and Inside Lakeside updates.
  • Events: Organize and book guest speakers for the school community, host film screenings, coordinate TJVDCC meetings, and host regular TJVDCC book club discussions. Organize and run the annual Middle School Community Night event.
  • Education: Operate and maintain the TJVDCC Lending Library, develop the We Are Lakeside education material, and provide opportunities for the parent and guardian community to learn about allyship.

The TJVDCC is made up of parent and guardian volunteers, and is managed by the TJVDCC co-chairs, and the PGA VP of Community, Equity and Inclusion who works directly with Lakeside's Director of Equity and Inclusion.

For more information on the TJVDCC, contact 2021-22 chairs Trista Bamer, Kelly Coleman, Anna Lea Mackay-Mejia, or PGA Vice President of community, equity, and inclusion Sheila Talwar at

Thomas "T.J." Vassar, Jr. (1950-2013)

T.J. Vassar was a pillar of the Lakeside community, and was instrumental in creating the diverse environment Lakeside is today. In the 1960s, T.J. was one of the first three African-American students to attend Lakeside. And after serving two terms on the Seattle School Board, he returned to Lakeside for most of his career, working to make the school more diverse.  It is in his name that the TJVDCC does the work of trying to create a more equitable and inclusive community.

For more information on T.J., click here.

T.J. Vassar is the embodiment of all we seek to be as advocates for diversity and social justice — wise, tenacious, well-connected, progressive, and loyal to the institutions we serve. Beyond being an advocate, he was a teacher to so many of us in the independent school world on how to cultivate and support followers on the journey to a more inclusive future. While we will no longer literally hear his barreling and engaging style of communication and that infectious laugh, we will forever have our fond memories of T.J. in our heads and hearts. May light perpetually shine on our brother, T.J. Vassar! -Bernie noe, head of school