BFS
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February 23, 2022

Brooklyn Friends School is excited to introduce you to the incredibly strong cadre of four student-centered leaders joining our BFS community on July 1, 2022. All of them will serve our school in key areas within our school and will help to continue to strengthen all that we do together in support of our community. These candidates are highly respected in their fields, and they have had illustrious experiences in their past school environments.

Selected from a significant national pool of applicants and stellar in our comprehensive finalist process, all emerged from the hiring experience as the absolute ideal members to bring their full selves into our school and positively influence our continued evolution and growth.

Below, you can read their full letters to our community.

Welcome to Brooklyn Friends School...

Dear Friends:

It is my absolute privilege to serve as your incoming Director of Enrollment Management. As parents and educators across the country reimagine ways to best develop the potential and promise of our young people, I am inspired at the chance to belong to a school community with such a long-standing tradition of nurturing not only students’ intellect, but also their character. My initial sentiments about Brooklyn Friends are supported and evinced by the warmth and collegiality I experience in every interaction with community members. I am honored to continue the distinctive work in Admissions that Karine has so beautifully directed for years, and so very excited at the chance to do it in a space fueled by justice-mindedness, collaboration and celebration. 

As I continue to get to know the people who are Brooklyn Friends, I grow more and more inspired to be here with you. The six Core Values that anchor BFS, to me, are palpable in every exchange that I have. These principles seem to serve as the foundation for conversations and lived experiences throughout the schoolhouse. And in reflection, these values are tenants that closely align with my own, gifting me with an implicit invitation to move forward in this role and to be, unabashedly, myself. 

I am a proud New Yorker, an only child of immigrants, a non-straight woman of color, a new wife and newer mom, a beneficiary of New York public and private education, a staunch lover of music and travel, a recovering Knicks fan, and an open book with its final chapters still incomplete. I am looking forward to the learning and growing that will result in filling in those upcoming chapters and am so excited that they will unfold here at BFS. 

The true work of Enrollment belongs to administrators, faculty, students and parents alike. As I step into this new role, I look forward to working collaboratively with you to align purpose and process. Together, we will continue building a school body hallmarked by a unique combination of intellect, character and pride. That is the Brooklyn Friends legacy and I am both proud and humbled by the opportunity to uphold that legacy. I cannot wait to see all that the future has in store for us. 

Best, 

Melissa

Dear Brooklyn Friends Community,

I feel lucky to join a community that leans into social justice in a manner that is truly unafraid. What became clear to me during the interview process was that, not only is it unafraid, it is also immensely joyful. That combination is a gift, one that I am excited to become a part of, and contribute to. As I engaged school leaders and students, I heard about student leadership and activism, holistic approaches to teaching and learning and to educating the whole child, I heard about being seen and heard and being given the space and permission to be your true authentic self. All this was shared with smiles, affirmation, kindness, and thoughtful engagement. Thank you for giving me this unique opportunity to join a family of colleagues, students and families that represents all the above.

I come to Brooklyn Friends excited to fully embrace my leadership role at the school and in the area of global civic engagement and social impact. I do so with humility and a learning mindset as we build this work together. The very nature of this work will call for collaboration with faculty, students, parents/guardians, and leadership colleagues. These are partnerships and relationships that I am eager to develop as soon as possible. I will learn about our immediate Brooklyn Friends community and work with you as we ethically, sustainably and thoughtfully engage the community beyond our walls: locally, nationally and globally. Together we will support the building of the core competencies that will enable Brooklyn Friends students to actively and critically engage with the world and help make it a more just and sustainable place. We will do so with a carefully considered approach focused on shared responsibility, cooperative action, empathy, humility, reciprocity, and collaborative problem solving, all essential in addressing the challenges facing our communities and developing active global citizens.

As I look forward to getting to know you all a lot better, I can share a bit about me: I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, nicknamed the “green city in the sun.” I came to the U.S. to attend college and ended up in Middlebury, Vermont, which was different from Nairobi in many ways and took some adjusting to, especially from a weather standpoint. My interest in human rights and social justice education was developed as a function of coming of age in a socially stratified and endemically corrupt country that was, for all intents and purposes, a dictatorship disguised as a democracy. It was also nurtured by a family of activists and practitioners. Two examples: A sister who is an international human rights lawyer, and my late sister who was an LGBTQ+ rights activist and filmmaker. My interest was further developed through my undergraduate and graduate studies focused on international political economy and international relations and working in youth development, human rights and global education for about 18 years. I am also a travel enthusiast and a big fan of football (or soccer as it’s referred to in these parts).

With that, all that is left to say is that I am fired up, ready to go, and can’t wait to meet you all.

In gratitude and anticipation,

Kevin Murungi

Dear Brooklyn Friends School Community,

It is with great joy, pride, enthusiasm, and humility that I write to you as the Director of Athletics Programming and Vision at BFS. From the moment I first read the description of this position and learned about the school’s philosophy, stance on social justice, and the Quaker pillars the community stands upon, I knew this was a place for me. BFS is an environment that espouses so many of the principals on which I have based my personal and professional life. So much so that despite the reality that my wife and I recently moved to Chicago, we both felt so strongly about this incredible opportunity to serve the BFS community that we are coming right back to our beloved NYC and could not be more excited. 

Sports have played such a pivotal part in my life that talking about my journey in the world of athletics is ultimately a description of the unfolding of my life thus far. From my earliest age, I have always wanted to be involved in athletics. There was something about sports, in my case basketball specifically, that made me come alive, provided me with a healthy outlet, structure, and a framework of continuously pursuing self improvement, and that empowered me to reach higher and to be a better person. I have long known the power that sports could have on people’s lives because my life was changed through sports, the incredible coaches, and program leaders I have had throughout my life that I am eternally grateful for. 

I come to BFS after a long tenure at a charter school in Queens, Our World Neighborhood Charter Schools, where I saw firsthand how sports have the capacity to instill students with self-confidence, open mindedness, empathy, passion, creativity, a curiosity for learning, a willingness to work collaboratively, and the ability to think critically and independently. At OWNCS, I witnessed how a strong sports program can have a tremendous cultural influence on a school as a whole, by increasing exposure and providing many emotional and social benefits including strengthening a feeling of connectivity in the school community. Moreover, it can bring a community together after tragedy and can generate a powerful school morale, as well as a sense of pride and belonging as both a player and a spectator. Socially, it encourages people from different backgrounds to work and play together and is a very important path to meeting new friends, building relationships, socializing and engendering an inherent sense of belonging. While athletics makes up just one part of the vibrant BFS community, it is my hope that its impact on community, character, and school pride expands into all fibers of the school community, as I worked to do at my former school. 

I am eager to get to know all community members on a personal level, and I would like to take a moment to share in this format a bit more about myself. I consider myself a son of New York City. I am an Afro-Latino who was born and raised with my two sisters in Washington Heights (in a time before Lin Manuel Miranda made it cool) by my mother, a career educator. I attended Rice High School in Harlem, where I was first introduced to ideas about social justice and where I had the privilege of playing on the basketball team – at the time a top 25 team in the country. I went on to attend St. Francis College (BK) and played four years of Division 1 basketball before fulfilling my childhood dream of playing professionally in the Dominican Republic, Austria and Hungary. I am the proud father of two sons, one who is a sophomore at Ithaca College where he plays football and one who is on the way and will arrive any day now. I am married to a woman who is such a light not only in my life, but also to the world with the work that she does as a mental health professional in the field of social work. I love to travel and learn about different cultures, to eat food, listen to music, and dance. I am an avid exerciser and thrive when I am active – golf is my newest favorite activity and humbles me after every round/outing. In my down time, you can find me reading books about coaching, cultivating positive and winning cultures, and social justice. My favorite quote and one that I strive to live by is, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” –Maya Angelou 

I am honored to have the weighty responsibility of leading Brooklyn Friends’ expansion of athletics and bringing the athletics department to new heights! Being the steward to nurture, inspire, and bring out the athlete in those who may not see it in themselves is a passion of mine. I am wholeheartedly looking forward to getting to know students, families, and colleagues more deeply as we walk side by side to advance and expand the athletics program in the service of students and families, together in partnership, and always with great pride. 

With gratitude, 

Christian L. Brown Sr.

Dear Brooklyn Friends School Community,

What a delight and what an honor it is to be invited to work with you all as the Associate Director of College Counseling. As my journey has taken me from one of the biggest states (Texas) to one of the smallest (Rhode Island) and now kept me in New York City, the deep sense of community and care that I’ve already seen from BFS is something truly special – thank y’all so much for the privilege of joining it! 

As I join Brooklyn Friends School this summer, I do so as a learner, a listener, a young adult fiction aficionado and a (very) amateur nail artist. I bring a deep desire to learn about and from this community and an earnest enthusiasm to contribute to it. In my interview process, the consistent sense of generosity, passion, and curiosity was so evident from everyone I spoke with. 

I look forward to getting to know y’all, especially those I will get to work with in the Upper School as we reflect and consider the next adventures beyond BFS. In college counseling, I hope to learn about who you are – in the multitude of ways you show up in the classroom, the community and beyond – and imagine together the many possibilities for who and where you may be as you take those brave steps toward your future, wherever they take you. I’m eager to be a part of the thinking, growth, vulnerability, and dreaming that make up this experience. 

In the meantime, I’m anxiously awaiting being a Panther once again – my own high school alma mater in Texas was also the Panthers! My partner and I already have our cats, Beatrice and Mumtaz, working on their best panther impressions. 

Warmly,

Naomi Varnis