Lillian Grate joined Shady Side Academy on July 1, 2018, as the Academy's new director of equity, inclusion and community relations. In this full-time position, Grate will work closely with the school heads and administrators to develop and implement systematic, mission-driven frameworks that advance diversity and inclusion efforts across the SSA's four campuses.
Grate's responsibilities include: providing strategic leadership in the areas of equity, inclusion and community relations; supporting the recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds; supporting the development of an inclusive and multicultural curriculum; serving as a resource for faculty for curriculum design and student support; serving as a liaison for diversity and inclusion-related student groups; supporting and developing student diversity leadership; planning and coordinating diversity and inclusion-focused programs, events and professional development; and acting as a liaison between SSA and underrepresented communities for recruitment and outreach.
Throughout her career as a counselor and community advocate, Grate has worked to ensure that traditionally marginalized and underserved populations are connected and thrive in mainstream environments. Her passion is to create opportunities for individuals to achieve their potential, regardless of socioeconomic and/or ethnic backgrounds. Prior to joining SSA she was a community trauma fellow with Neighborhood Allies in Pittsburgh, where she created the Trauma Informed Community Development framework, a new approach to community development that emphasizes resident engagement in community building, equitable development and inclusionary practices. As president of the Penn Plaza Tenant Council, she was a key negotiator of the historic agreement between the property landlord and City of Pittsburgh officials that created a new standard for future development in Pittsburgh while ensuring the development of affordable housing in the gentrified East Liberty community.
From 2012 to 2017 she was a mental health therapist with Renewal Treatment Inc., specializing in trauma counseling, behavior modification, anger management, emotional regulation and crisis management. Prior to that she was the assistant director of Hill House Economic Development Corporation and a counselor with Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. Grate holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's degree in professional counseling from Carlow University and is a licensed professional counselor. She is also a current SSA Middle School parent.
"I am honored to be tasked with such significant and important work," said Grate. "The work of equity, inclusion and community relations is multifaceted and touches all aspects of a school's community. I find it vital that during my first year I understand and gain insight into the culture and communities of Shady Side Academy. I also look forward to understanding and becoming familiar with the needs of the students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, stakeholders and community partners."