Equity in Education - in conversation with Tonie Leatherberry

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Equity i Education - Tonie Leatherberry

Today I am meeting Tonie Leatherberry in one of DC’s most prominent neighborhoods — Georgetown. The streets are buzzing with tourists, locals, and college students.

Tonie Leatherberry is a frequent writer and speaker, and has authored many articles and whitepapers for Deloitte, NACD Directorship and many other publications.

Tonie’s achievements have been widely recognized. She has been named to Consulting Magazine’s list of the top 25 consultants globally, the NACD Directorship 100, and Black Enterprise’s Most Powerful Women in Business. She is also a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.

A believer in the power of lifelong learning, Tonie plans to pursue a doctorate in higher education in her post-Deloitte career. She has an MBA in Operations from Northeastern University and a Bachelor of Science — Mechanical Engineering from Boston University.

We get seated outdoors and a waiter takes our order immediately.

Tonie, you shared that equity in education is a topic close to your heart. STEM is playing an increasingly important role in society and needs to be an integral part of education. What is your take on that?

Tonie takes a sip of her coffee, thinks for a moment, and then begins answering.

“STEM — oh yes absolutely. STEM is science, technology, education, and mathematics. These subjects play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy. Further, they help create critical thinkers, increase science literacy, and enable the next generation of innovators.

“Currently, there is a lacking number of people of color working in STEM. Particularly, there is a dearth of teachers of color, in America’s diversifying schools. In order for students of color to be encouraged toward STEM, they need to learn from teachers who look like them. Students of color represent 50% of students in the US, but less than 20% of teachers. Hence, equity in education is so important.

“However, we should not lose focus from humanities and the arts as well. They all play a role in critical thinking, creativity, and innovation. I would like to use this opportunity to think about it as a renaissance as well. The marriage of STEM, digital transformation, innovation, arts and humanities together, to solve issues.

“This brings me back to the fact that every company is a digital company. We are all digital consumers in some form or fashion. Further, we can’t leave equity through education out of this equation.

“As Americans, we are falling low from the global standpoint of superior education at the secondary level. How are we going to play on the world field around that? When it comes to diversity, and lack of inclusion, that would mean leaving a whole range of people out of the equation. If we don’t invest in them, for them to thrive and become productive members of society, how will they contribute? Everything has to be taken into consideration based on where technology and the future of jobs is headed.”

So true, Tonie. Thanks for sharing.

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