“Celebrating Global Cultures”
Kansler Family Continues Their Support of GPA With Gift
By David Klein | Back to Table of Contents
The Global Parent Ambassadors Endowment supports and welcomes Ravenscroft’s international families and ensures that funds are available for students wishing to travel abroad.
The fund was born out of a need Gail Kansler identified in 2016: As the parent of Alexandra ’17, whom she and her husband, Mike, adopted from China, Kansler came to understand that attaining a true sense of belonging within the Ravenscroft community often presents a challenge for international families. After all, the school has its own culture, traditions and lexicon. How would Ravens who grew up in London or China understand what Homecoming is about or know what to make of the term “game-day dress”?
Gail, Alex and Mike visit Queenstown, New Zealand, in 2011.
A YEARNING FOR COMMUNITY
Kansler was inspired to act by the recognition that Ravenscroft’s international families yearned to strengthen bonds with the school and its community. She reached out to David Kates, then-director of Ravenscroft’s Global Programs, to identify ways to support these families. This effort yielded the Global Parent Ambassadors, a parent-led group that has welcomed Ravenscroft’s growing international community ever since.
Aeri Meyers, a past president of Global Parent Ambassadors, sees the group in the context of Ravenscroft’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. “GPA is about the inclusion part of DEI. Once you feel included, there’s a feeling of, ‘I’m OK being different. Now I feel confident enough to discuss those differences, or the commonalities, and celebrating both of them,’” she explained.
Born out of an RWorld activity, the school’s Community Rock Garden includes a student-decorated rock bearing the GPA globe.
While staying true to its mission, the group has expanded its original focus by looking beyond the international community and involving those families who share a passion for travel and global culture.
“Global Parent Ambassadors started saying, ‘People just want community, no matter where they come from,’” noted Phil Higginson, Associate Head of School for Philanthropy. “Parents look at the school as their social hub. Some of the things GPA members were doing, celebrating global cultures, made other parents say, ‘Gosh, I want to be a part of that.’ So it became a very social thing — and very popular.”
“A parent group like GPA is unique,” said Jessica Yonzon, who succeeded Kates as Director of Global Programs. “I don’t believe many independent schools have a parent group of global ambassadors! It is wonderful to see this group and attract globally minded families to our school.”
Gail Kansler, second from left at front, and other Ravenscroft parents kick off the Global Parent Ambassadors in May 2016.
AN EXPANDED MISSION
In recent years, the group has been instrumental in organizing and supporting on-campus events such as the schoolwide Culture Festival and celebrations of the Lunar New Year and Diwali. As the group’s popularity has grown, its mission has expanded. Initially focused on events and activities, “GPA has become a platform for community engagement and interconnectedness,” Meyers said. “And that platform is the group’s mission. It’s an opportunity for meaningful human connection. GPA creates a space for people to meet and gather together without a specific to-do other than create a memory.”
With Alex now a junior at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, the Kanslers have remained closely involved with GPA. Gratified by the group’s growth and evolution, they decided to make another generous donation to support the endowment fund they created. They also updated the fund’s language to reinforce its commitment toward inclusivity.
“We wanted that ‘community’ word in there,” said Kansler. “The idea is that the GPA president and the school’s Director of Global Programs will determine how that money can be used for the students.”
The other significant change to the endowment is an important one: the addition of Alex’s name. “We wanted it to be kind of a legacy for her that she can continue,” said Kansler.
Left: Alex and Mike enjoy a family trip to Prague in 2014.
Right: Gail and Mike visit Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, with Alex ’17, who is now a student there.
Above, the Kanslers pose atop the American Embassy in Berlin in 2014.