Leaving Behind a Legacy at La Salle, Ms. Mounsey Prepares To Depart


Ashley Hawkins

In her three years as Director of Equity and Inclusion, Ms. Kiah Mounsey has dedicated her time at La Salle to making progress in promoting a more equitable and inclusive community.

Lillian Paugh and Lucy Loeb

Over the last three years in her position as the Director of Equity and Inclusion, Ms. Kiah Mounsey has made strides for La Salle to advance the school’s policies, working to create a more inclusive environment and diversify the overall mindset of the community. 

Now, Ms. Mounsey is ready to embark on a new chapter as she prepares to depart from La Salle and set out on a new path elsewhere.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I don’t know what the next chapter is going to bring, but it feels right.”

Her decision to leave was not an easy one for her to make, she said, but she felt it was necessary for her own professional development. Ms. Mounsey noted that, while she plans to leave at the end of this school year, she still has high hopes for La Salle’s future and hopes that the next person in her role will be able to further “infuse” the values of inclusion, equity, and diversity in all aspects of the school. 

“I hope that this work continues, and I hope that people see the value and ultimately creating a space for students but also for adults to feel like they can thrive and that they have a sense of belonging and that they can be their authentic selves,” she said.

Ms. Mounsey also wishes for the space she has created for students in her office area to remain open to them as a safe space after she leaves, saying that it once was a place that students were uncertain of when she first arrived but has since become a spot where students often gather and seek refuge from everyday life.

Previously, Ms. Mounsey’s office was stationed in the front office, where she found it difficult to connect with students on a regular basis due to it being an area without a ton of student traffic. But, in moving to her current office located in the main hallway and named the Center for Inclusion, she’s found joy in being able to see students more often and provide them a room to hang out in or take a minute to decompress.

“And that’s exactly what I wanted the space to be,” she said. “I wanted it to be what students needed.”

Her passion for advocating for diversity and inclusion is something that has been unchanged throughout her time here, however, Ms. Mounsey has felt that her job hasn’t been entirely easy. 

One challenge she described was the isolation of being the sole staff member of the Equity Department and not being able to collaborate with other faculty and staff as often as she would’ve liked to because of that.

Additionally, the fact that she is the only Black staff member at La Salle has been difficult. Although efforts have been made to diversify the staff and faculty, Ms. Mounsey would have liked to see more representation among the leaders at the school that would accurately represent the student body. 

“If I’m being honest, that [lack of diversity among staff] hasn’t changed, there’s not very many BIPOC adults at La Salle — the student population is definitely bigger,” Ms. Mounsey said. “I think maybe, had I had a different role, like if I was teaching or if my role wasn’t DEIB [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging], it would still be difficult, but the fact that I’m doing this work and then doing it as the sole Black, multiracial person just compounds the fact and makes the isolation even more real and difficult sometimes.” 

However, she described loving the fact that she has gotten to participate in classes with students of all grade levels as a part of her work with La Salle’s Leadership class, and she immensely appreciated the opportunity to teach about her field of expertise. 

Ms. Mounsey has also provided cultural competency training to many staff and faculty members at La Salle and has enjoyed having the opportunity to educate the adults who act as role models and leaders for many students. 

“We have a lot of different cultures, a lot of diversity, and I don’t just mean racial and ethnic diversity — diversity of thought and diversity of ability, a diversity of age,” she said. “And just because you are a person of power, just because you’re an adult, doesn’t automatically mean that you know how to interact with other cultures in an appropriate way.” 

Ms. Mounsey is the sole staff member of the Office of Inclusion, but she has enjoyed what collaborative opportunities she’s had with the other members of the FSCI department and described it as a highlight of her time at La Salle professionally. 

Ms. Mounsey has also appreciated being offered the opportunity to share her knowledge and training in equity and inclusion, as she described some of her favorite things to be planning events, helping teachers with their lessons, and being a part of conferences where she can help others to consider and view their own actions while considering the values of equity and inclusion.

As a part of her work this year, Ms. Mounsey has been involved with coordinating special events related to equity and inclusion, particularly during cultural heritage and remembrance months and days for the community, like the Black History Month assembly she helped organize and inviting guest speaker S.C. Says to share his work with the community during a second all-school celebration.

In tandem with planning these events this year, Ms. Mounsey also took the initiative to collaborate with equity and inclusion staff from other local Catholic schools, like Central Catholic High School and St. Mary’s Academy to explore ways in which to engage the student body in activities promoting an inclusive and equitable environment. 

Now that the Inclusion Committee — which Ms. Mounsey created and is comprised of students, administrators, teachers, alumni, and parents — finishes its third official year at La Salle, Ms. Mounsey recognized some of their accomplishments, with the first task the committee took on being the Equity Statement. Ms. Mounsey said that this initiative “took a lot of time and effort,” and she appreciates the diversity in the voices that went into its creation. Ms. Mounsey also helped to create La Salle’s Bias Report Form system last year, which allows students to anonymously report incidents of discrimination witnessed on campus.

The Inclusion Committee’s next point of action has been creating and implementing the Equity Lens, which was finalized and circulated to teachers this month. This tool, as she calls it, is a list of guidelines and questions centered around inclusivity. It will serve as a decision-making framework that all faculty and staff in the building can have access to, acting as a universal guide to making equitable and inclusive decisions — such as those made by teachers in their lesson plans, administrators in the school policy revisions, and committees when planning school events. 

For example, Ms. Mounsey said that the lens can assist in the inclusion of all groups of people and consider aspects of events that could be potentially inequitable or exclusive that the event planners wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

“It’s been a year in the making,” she said. “So to think [about] how many hours and time and effort went into this document that’s very small, but it’s going to be very mighty.”

In light of Ms. Mounsey’s departure at the end of the school year, Principal Ms. Alanna O’Brien shared a statement expressing the administration’s feelings about her leaving and their plans for the future of the Equity Department.

“Ms. Mounsey will be missed,” Ms. O’Brien said. “We are appreciative of all the ways she has worked to make La Salle a place of inclusion. Of special note is the establishment of the Inclusion Committee, her work on institutional language, and her passion for professional development. La Salle remains committed to our efforts around equity, inclusion, and belonging and look to fill this position in the weeks ahead. We wish Ms. Mounsey the best as she explores new opportunities.”

In her transition to leave La Salle, Ms. Mounsey hopes to continue her work in an educational setting and with students because “that’s where my soul is most fulfilled,” she said.

Despite having “a lot of feelings” about leaving La Salle, she said, the school, being both her alma mater and a part of her life for close to a decade, “will always have a special place in my heart.”