Dever: a voice for many who felt like they might not have a place in the conversation

BRATTLEBORO — It brings me joy and I'm happy to say that I support Lana Dever for the Brattleboro seat on the Windham Southeast School Board.

As a former Brattleboro Town School Board member and as a Black single mother who supported my two children in navigating the school system, I am acutely aware of what it takes and what it means to be a parent and to be in leadership to help support, hold accountable, and improve our school district.

Now my children are older, I am a grandparent, and the importance of strong leadership is no different. I think about my grandbaby who attends one of the school district's preschool programs and will be entering kindergarten at one of the local schools in the fall.

I want for this next generation to be supported in their times - meaning that change is necessary for growth and that we must be creative, open, and willing to listen to what our communities need and to the voices that have been most impacted by these systems.

We also have to be courageous, be willing to be a voice for those who are often left out of the conversations, and commit to doing the messy work.

I've known Lana for quite some time now. We became great friends. We connected as Black women and as parents, and just as importantly we connected in community.

Lana and I joined forces to work together on areas of concern in our community, acknowledging that one area that needed leadership and support was for Black and Brown (BIPOC) communities to be connected and safe. I had the pleasure of working with her in helping form what was then Black Lives Matter - Southern Vermont.

For years we co-created with our white racial accountability partners a space where Black lives could be centered, and we as a community could build relationships, educate ourselves, shift resources, meet the needs of our community, connect in authentic ways, and begin the healing together from our racial trauma that we all are experiencing.

Lana was instrumental in this role. She took the time to pause and educate herself, listen to the needs of the people, form relationships, and take direction with the input of other people who held her accountable. Six years later, our group is still an intentional community and continue to meet monthly as HIP (Healing in Practice).

Lana is a critical thinker, a skill I believe that is needed as a school board member. She has shown me and our community through the years that she is up for the task, from her leadership on the Community Safety Review Committee to her own personal growth of going back to school.

In her paid work, Lana works with youth and supports them to have the resources, tools, and skills they need as they emerge into adulthood.

Lana and I have been fortunate enough in our positions in our organizations to talk about meeting youth needs with an equity lens, which means understanding that while all youth may need support we want to make sure that we are supporting whole human beings in their intersectionalities and all the gifts they present.

We want to make sure that we support youth with personal growth, provide opportunities for connection and community, and empower our youth to not just survive, but to have the ability to thrive.

I believe that Lana is ready to take on this endeavor and get messy if needed. I believe she can be a voice for many who felt like they might not have a place in the conversation.

And I believe that she is rightfully qualified in her skill set to make decisions on behalf of all of us - decisions that greatly impact our teachers, children, families and, most importantly, our values as a community.

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