Insights from Miriah: Cultivating Belonging at St. Anne's

Welcome to our blog interview featuring Miriah Royal, our fantastic new Director of Community Belonging and Engagement at St. Anne's! We're absolutely thrilled to have her on board and can't wait to dive into her inspiring journey, passions, and vision for fostering an inclusive and vibrant school community. With Miriah's expertise and dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we're certain she'll make a profound impact on our school.

Miriah, it's a pleasure to have you here! Please tell us about your background and what inspired you to join the St. Anne’s community.

Thank you! I am beyond excited to be part of the St. Anne’s community.  Well, to label myself a bit, I am an adventure mom, bookworm, mindfulness and wellness advocate, dance like nobody's watching, cheerleader for giving it your all, and lover of corny jokes.  Some of those traits sound silly, but they have allowed me to recognize and welcome others to be themselves.  In turn, I have experienced some unique partnerships.  What inspired me to join St. Anne’s was the community.  We hold space with one another where our individuality is our superpower.  I want every being to have the opportunity to be their best selves, and our mission and values lend themselves to that.  

Being in Colorado, do you enjoy spending much time outdoors, or have you ever lived outside Colorado? 

I am a nomadic person.  I lived and visited various places across the United States during my youth.  From Georgia to California, Arizona to Florida, to Illinois to Texas, there are very few states I have yet to step foot in.  Those moments filled me with curiosity for what and how people exist.  To this day, I make it a point to visit somewhere new at least once a year.    I do not necessarily have a favorite place to live, but Colorado ranks highly. I have only been in Colorado for two years, so this summer, I explored the southern parts of Colorado.  

I LOVE the outdoors!  My journey into being an “outdoorsy” person started with spending time with my grandparents in their gardens, birdwatching, and family reunions at local parks.  Since then, I have jumped into various adventures: white water rafting, backpacking, hiking, skiing, climbing, and repelling(these two do not spark joy for me, but I tried), car camping, SUPing, kayaking, etc.  More and more, I find myself collaborating with various outdoor organizations and individuals to help with equity and accessibility to the outdoors because it is a space where one can truly discover who they are.  When you are getting outside, nature is not concerned about the name brand of the gear you may have or what you look like.  Nature will help you with self-work.  It’s a “challenge by choice.”  You get to pick your activity, level of engagement, etc., all while having to honor(think to leave no trace, land acknowledgments, etc.)  the space you are in.  I hear people saying nature resets your brain all the time, but I firmly believe that nature is role modeling how one should be aware of their impact in a community.  Side note, I am always looking for adventure recommendations, so if you have one, let me know.  

Throughout your journey, who has been the most profound mentor or someone who greatly impacted your life and career?

This is a tough question!  I have several mentors that come to mind.  Hey Mom! Hey Dad! At the moment, I want to shout out Tony and Cassie Stafford.  They are previous coworkers of mine and current friends, but I would also give them the label of Outdoor Mentors.  We started working together when I was at Bucknell University.  They both supported and challenged me to expand my comfort zone in the outdoors.  We have adventured together for years, and there are always heartfelt lessons with every adventure.  They helped me learn the hard skills of being an outdoor leader,  pushed me to finesse the soft skills, and embraced my curiosity for connecting the outdoors to everyday life.  Not only are they allies, but they are accomplices in wanting the world to be a better place.  I know that if we had not met, I would not have been as brave and bold in my career. I hear Tony asking me, “ Well, what are your goals?” and Cassie following up with, “Let me provide some feedback….”. I should reach out to them. We are long overdue for an adventure, and I would love for them to introduce them to our community.  

As a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion, we're eager to hear about your vision for cultivating an environment where everyone feels a genuine sense of belonging at our school.

I just love us!  The pathway I will be taking is to cultivate an environment where every individual feels a genuine sense of belonging.  We always have to do the work assuming everyone is in the room.  And when I say work, I am speaking about digging deeper than knowing the terminology of DEI work.  This is human work; we need to give grace for mistakes, remember our core revolves around inspirational service, and that belonging has various connection points.  I want to inspire every community member to tap into their superpower to fortify our culture of care. 

This reminds me of a few Principles of Peaceful Change from the FAIR organization.  Exercising moral courage, building bridges, defeating injustice, not people, and trusting in justice are grounding factors in our work.  There will always be two guiding questions on my mind as I lead here:

Is XYZ's mission aligned?

Who/What are we centering at this moment?

Those questions will keep me focused and embedded in our values.  Goodness, I am so grateful to be in service of the St. Anne’s community and pour massive amounts of love into everything we do!

Miriah, thank you for taking the time to share your insights with us. We're truly excited to have you as part of our school community and can't wait to see the positive impact you'll make. Welcome once again, and we're thrilled to have you at St. Anne's!