Penguin Random House: PRH Education Hosts “Developing a Diverse and Inclusive Reading Culture: A Summit for Education Leadership”


EDU Chief Diversity Officer PRH Summit Participants

Penguin Random House Education hosted Developing a Diverse and Inclusive Reading Culture: A Summit for Education Leadership in mid November. This virtual event was attended by key K12 decision makers, providing them with an opportunity to network, hear from leading editors and publishing professionals, and have a voice to help shape the conversation around bringing contemporary, authentic, and diverse stories to today’s classrooms. The group consisted of 17 educators with titles ranging from teachers, principals, superintendents, to Chief Diversity Officers.

The event opened with a welcome from Michael Gentile, VP Education Sales & Marketing, PRH Education, and a brief overview from Kim Shariff, EVP, Director of Strategy for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, PRH, on Penguin Random House’s initiatives and strategy around DE&I. The group then split up into breakout rooms to begin a lively hour-long discussion on what they do, along with the DE&I initiatives in their district they’re excited about and have found challenging over the past year.


The Summit Agenda

The rest of the afternoon was filled with dynamic presentations and conversations, starting with a session on representing diverse voices through diverse genres. Gina Gagliano, Publishing Director, Random House Graphic, and Phoebe Yeh, VP & Publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers, were in conversation with educator Ronell Whitaker, ELA & LRC Curriculum Director, as they talked about their work and commitment to elevating diverse voices in their publishing programs.

The event ended with a conversation around how The 1619 Project issue of The New York Times Magazine grew into two newly published books: The 1619 Project and The 1619 Project: Born on the Water. Allan Spencer, Marketing Manager, PRH Education, led the discussion with Chris Jackson, EVP Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, One World, Namrata Tripathi, VP & Publisher, Kokila, and Lulu Martinez, Marketing Director, One World, on how these books are being shared with readers and schools, and the lasting impact they hope these stories will have.

As a leading publisher of award-winning and best-selling books, Penguin Random House strives to support students and teachers by providing the most timely, engaging, and diverse authentic texts that harness the power of literacy and promote equity. It is because of this commitment that we continue to connect with education leaders to gain new insights into the state of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in schools, and how we can better support these efforts.

Michael Gentile said of the event, “Our intention was to create a space for leading DE&I education professionals to connect with our publishing, sales, and marketing teams and have a dialogue about their DE&I work, and how PRH may better support that work in the future.“ He added, “With that in mind, in 2022 we plan on expanding that conversation in the form of additional summits, new sales and marketing initiatives, and the creation of an inaugural Education Chief Diversity Officer advisory board for PRH.”

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