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Introducing the 2021 SmartSitting Diversity and Inclusion Council

In 2020, we saw a need for a more concentrated effort in building inclusive spaces for the SmartSitting network. As a result, we created the SmartSitting Diversity and Inclusion Council (SDIC). This council holds us accountable for our commitment to anti-racism and inclusion of all identities in the SmartSitting community. 

As we move into the second year of these efforts, we are excited to introduce the 2021 SDIC members and their hopes for the council’s work in the coming year.

Co-Chair: Fiona (of SmartSitting)

SmartSitting Diversity and Inclusion Council Co-Chair Fiona

In an effort to foster a greater sense of community and safety within the SmartSitting network, Fiona founded the Diversity and Inclusion Council along with her co-chair, Shayla, in May of 2020. Fiona received a Bachelor of Arts in Asian studies, with minors in religious studies and Hindi language, from the University of Colorado. Fiona is an artist, writer, and musician, and enjoys collaborating with other creatives in her free time. She has been a part of the SmartSitting team for almost a year and a half and looks forward to continuing her work with an agency that celebrates the diversity and creative expression of all members of it’s community.

Fiona says: In the coming year, our council will continue to shed light on the ways in which race, gender, mental health, and education intersect within the realm of childcare. We remain dedicated to our goal of providing the SmartSitting community with resources to help navigate our diverse world and strengthen our mentality of acceptance and inclusion of all identities.

Co-Chair: Shayla 

SmartSitting Diversity and Inclusion Council Co-Chair Shayla

Shayla graduated from The City College of New York, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in art with a concentration in teaching art and a psychology minor. In 2022, she will earn a Master of Science in art therapy and counseling, with specializations in medical and trauma-informed therapy from Eastern Virginia Medical School. Her long-term goal is to provide holistic mental health care services to civilian and military communities affected by armed conflict and global crises.

Shayla says: This year, one of our goals is to plan and facilitate regular listening sessions and virtual events for the SmartSitting community. We hope that by providing safe and welcoming spaces within our community, we will be able to advance the anti-racism goals of the committee. 

Education & Resource Advocate: Lindsey 

SmartSitting Diversity and Inclusion Council Education and Resource Advocate Lindsey

Lindsey Disabella grew up in Connecticut, where she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in education from the University of Saint Joseph. Before moving to New York City to pursue a second master’s degree in speech language pathology, Lindsey worked as a general education teacher, teaching first and second grade in Connecticut. Throughout her time as a graduate student in New York City, she’s enjoyed babysitting for SmartSitting and working as an executive function coach and as an academic tutor. 

Lindsey says: In 2021, my hope is for the council to provide sitters and families in our community with the tools and resources to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and to spark important conversations regarding racial injustice, gender, sexuality and mental health. I hope we can continue to educate ourselves and others in order to break down existing barriers and create a brighter, more accepting future for our children.

Gender & Sexuality Advocate: J 

SmartSitting Diversity and Inclusion Council Gender and Sexuality Advocate J

J Houston studied photography and gender studies at Carnegie Mellon University, before moving to Brooklyn, NY to pursue art and childcare. They have taught arts-related courses at Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art, Silver Eye Center for Photography, NARS Foundation, and Siena Heights University, with an emphasis on helping youth tell stories about their community’s experiences. J currently nannies through SmartSitting, freelances in hotography, and teaches art to youth.

J says: I hope that in 2021 the council will help pair families, kids, and sitters regardless of gender and equip them with the language and knowledge they need around the LGBTQIA+ community.

Mental Health Advocate: Gabi

SmartSitting Diversity and Inclusion Council Mental Health Advocate Gabi

Gabi earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from Oberlin College, with a minor in comparative American studies. At Oberlin, she became a certified mediator with the Yeworkwha Belachew Center for Dialogue, an organization dedicated to social justice-oriented conflict resolution methods. As a sitter, tutor, and arts educator, she has worked closely with kids of all ages from a variety of needs backgrounds. She is also a writer and performer who will hopefully be back onstage someday soon!

Gabi says: As we continue to navigate childcare during the pandemic, I hope that the council will continue to share insights on how we can be kindest to ourselves and those we care for on a personal, social, and global scale.

BIPOC Advocate: Jennifer

SmartSitting Diversity and Inclusion Council BIPOC Advocate Jennier

With six years of childcare experience, Jennifer has worked with American and international families of various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. She is excited to bring her passion for mentorship, leadership, and racial equity to Smartsitting’s Diversity & Inclusion Council. 

Jennifer says: ⁠I’m honored to be the BIPOC Advocate as it gives me the opportunity to share the perspectives I’ve learned from assisting families of different backgrounds. With the new administration in the White House, I’ll be focusing on President Biden’s directives on racial equity, and their impact on the childcare workplace.

The work to make our community more inclusive is an ongoing effort. SmartSitting is committed to rising to this challenge and hope you join us! We invite you to share your thoughts, ideas, and questions for the council on Facebook or Instagram, in 2021 and beyond. Want to get more diversity and inclusion resources sent right to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter!

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