An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Debbie Bensadon, assistant director of equity and inclusion/Upper School Spanish teacher

Lakeside’s community wide commitment to equity and inclusion work is supported by a robust diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) team. The six person team works with students, faculty, staff, and parents and guardians on a variety of projects and undertakings, most notably, the initiative Our Work Together: Inclusion, Multiculturalism, Respect.

Here is a rundown of who is on the team and our areas of focus.

  • Jamie Asaka, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion and director of student and family support, leads this work at an institutional level, particularly regarding schoolwide policies and practices. She guides the implementation of Our Work Together and collaborates with other administrators, the Board of Trustees, and the Parents and Guardians Association to implement efforts to make Lakeside a place where each person feels a part of the community.
  • Debbie Bensadon, assistant director of diversity, equity, and inclusion and Upper School Spanish teacher, leads student programming work and faculty curricular support at the Middle and Upper school, and supports community wide professional development and inclusive hiring at both divisions. She also represents Lakeside’s DEI office in the larger educational community.
  • Upper School history teacher James Nau and Middle School history teacher Merissa Reed serve as faculty equity coordinators. They work with faculty on both campuses, providing feedback on academic curricula (what faculty are teaching) as well inclusive teaching practices. Additionally, they help faculty identify professional development opportunities and readings specific to teachers’ interests and areas for growth.
  • LEEP Director and Family Support Liaison Latasia Lanier and Middle School personal development teacher Yvette Avila are the student equity program coordinators. Lanier advises the Upper School student affinity group leadership team (SALT), helps coordinate the Upper School student facilitators that lead the Middle School affinity program, and coordinates and chaperones national and regional student diversity conferences. At the Middle School, Avila is the lead for the affinity group program, develops curriculum for positive identity development, and helps Middle School faculty implement them. Avila will also be the point person for regional student retreats for Middle School students and related off-campus opportunities.

You can reach members of the DEI team at