By Tovi C. Scruggs-Hussein
Greetings Beloved COSEM Community–
It has been a true honor and pleasure to serve as President and Board Chair for these past 3 years. Being a fairly new organization, I followed first President Matt Dewar and am thrilled to be handing over this leadership post to Lindsey Frank.
Just after COSEM’s inaugural Educating Mindfully Conference (EMCON) in February 2019, I reached out to Tracy Heilers, COSEM's founder, simply because there was such alignment in my soul as I explored what the organization was envisioning for the world through a shared purpose and vision. I was thrilled when Tracy welcomed me with open arms and an invitation to lead.
Given who I am and how I approach mindfulness as a tool for empowerment and equity, I began my leadership with wanting to ensure that the lens in which COSEM was expressing in the world was one of inclusion and belonging for ALL educators and the students we serve. There needed to be room for us all. It was important that the movement that we were building and contributing stand apart in this way with great intention. As a result, the Equity-Based Conversation Series was birthed and this also supported us in growing COSEM’s reach and following. It was important for me to intentionally and unapologetically expand the vision in this way.
I was also able to contribute a chapter in our book Educating Mindfully: Stories of School Transformation Through Mindfulness titled “Mindfulness as an Equity Tool: You Cannot Teach What You Do Not Embody.” This book was an immense undertaking by Tracy, who orchestrated and lead-edited 40 chapters, each written by a different educator, to create a 355-page anthology utilizing inspiring storytelling to document the emergence of mindfulness in US education while also creating a comprehensive resource and field guide for school communities. I’m thankful and proud to have contributed such an impactful chapter to a book that is being used in school book studies and college courses.
My keynote at EMCON2020 ignited many educators to begin talking about and thinking about race in ways that they had not or avoided before as it related to mindfulness and equity. I’ll never forget Matt Dewar coming up to me just after the keynote, with a beaming smile and teary-eyed, and just hugging me. No words were exchanged. It was a beautiful moment of heart-felt connection; a sign that the message of this work touches us on the soul level. And, of course, there were the connections of Barnaby Spring, Cheryl Watkins, James Butler, and so many more that held the space for equity to be a part of the conference lens and vision.
And nearest and dearest to my heart: Racial Healing Allies™ was born out of a magical collaboration of Sally Albright Green, Grace Helms Kotre, and I. It was so organic and so powerful, all starting with a phone call to simply chime in on a conference workshop they were planning, and their own knowingness that this is work best not done without a shared racialized lens. And who could predict that one of the greatest racial reckonings of our time would follow only a few months later? And, because of a synchronous workshop at EMCON2020, we were poised to contribute to the racialized healing of our schools and systems.
The formation of Racial Healing Allies™ is a perfect example of our vision for a coalition– a Coalition of Schools Educating Mindfully– and its power to bring resonance of like-minds and forge new paths to do better and be better. We serve this coalition because it is time– time for us to be a collective that stands united in the healing and wellness of our schools.
I am honored to have been a contributing leader to this powerful vision and purpose, using my own gifts and talents in this way. My final charge to you as I turn over the presidency? How will YOU use your gifts and talents to contribute to the coalition? There is room for us all.
Tovi Scruggs-Hussein is a visionary, healer, and award-winning urban educator with almost 30 years of leadership and transformation experience. She is internationally recognized for her signature approach of Leadership Do-ing to Leadership BE-ing and Emotionally Intelligent Equity & Inclusion. She is a recognized leader in meditation, resilience, and self-mastery, was highlighted by Mindful Magazine, and is on a mission to heal our systems through her unique integration of leadership development, racial healing, and trauma-responsive resilience. She is the visionary of Racial Healing Allies™, a movement to create truly inclusive schools and organizations. She is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator, trained by Brené Brown, and is the founding co-teacher of the trauma-informed leadership course at Mills College. Connect with Tovi at ticiess.com.