Pace Academy Bolsters Leadership in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Pace Academy has announced two personnel changes to elevate programming and support around the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion across the school. With the start of the 2020-2021 school year, Joanne Brown, currently Director of Diversity and Inclusion, will serve as Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. Dr. Troy Baker, currently Director of Athletics, will become Director of Student Life, a new position on Pace Academy’s administrative team. 

Brown and Baker will work together to implement Pace Academy’s Action Plan for Racial Equity. Released in July 2020, the plan reflects the school’s commitment now and in the future to look critically at its institutional practices, policies and procedures, and to implement meaningful changes in an effort to establish true racial equity and embed antiracism in all that takes place at Pace Academy. 

“I feel very fortunate that the individuals who will guide the implementation of our plan are longtime members of the Pace community,” said Head of School Fred Assaf. “Joanne and Troy know our school culture, our students, our parents, our faculty and our staff. I am thrilled that they have agreed to lead us in this important work, and I look forward to collaborating with them in the coming weeks, months and years as we strive for excellence in diversity, equity and inclusion at Pace.”

A graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in psychology, Brown went on to study law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She spent two decades practicing law until a new calling in independent school administration led her to a position as Director of Admissions at Heritage Preparatory School. In 2014, she joined the Pace Office of Admissions; she was named Director of Diversity and Inclusion in 2017.

In her new role, Brown will continue to work across the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools to ensure a diverse and inclusive school-wide culture, one in which differences are embraced, and students, parents, faculty and staff feel a sense of belonging. She will support faculty and staff by designing a purposeful recruitment process, providing professional development opportunities, implementing thoughtful retention strategies, and ensuring culturally-relevant pedagogies, practices and programs. This work will in turn foster a welcoming, equitable environment for all students, one that allows us to attract and retain students of color and create a school community more reflective of our city and our world.

“I am honored to continue doing the work I’ve been entrusted with for the past three years and to be positioned in a role that will offer me the opportunity to think more strategically around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion for our school community, particularly as they relate to our Action Plan for Racial Equity,” Joanne says. “I’m looking forward to implementing our plan with the help of our committed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinators and the entire Pace community.” 

Baker received his undergraduate degree in education from Wright State University before earning his master’s in secondary education at Brown University. In 2015, he graduated with a Doctor of Educational Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University's Peabody College. Baker began his career in the classroom, teaching humanities, and later focused on curriculum and instruction before moving to athletics. Prior to taking on the role of Director of Athletics at Pace in 2015, he served for seven years as Director of Athletics at Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, Tenn.

Baker will oversee the student experience from Pre-First through graduation from both a strategic and programmatic perspective. He will partner with faculty, staff and division leadership to create an environment that nurtures the holistic development of every student, overseeing counseling, discipline, community-building and inclusion, as well as academic and non-academic interventions. Under Baker’s leadership, every student will have access to a rich and exciting mix of co-curricular experiences—experiences that will remain consistent throughout students’ time in the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools. In addition, he will work with parents and alumni to support student wellbeing, belonging and success. 

“I’m proud to have been a part of Pace Athletics,” Baker says. “More important than the championships we’ve earned and the memories we’ve made are the culture and the standard of competitive excellence we have established. Helping intentionally and strategically foster that environment has been a terrific training ground for the complexity of this new opportunity. I’m looking forward to serving every student in our Lower, Middle and Upper Schools, and making sure that they have the resources and support they need to thrive and become prepared, confident citizens of the world at Pace. I’m excited to get to work!”