In July 2015, International House welcomed Sharon La Cruise as Director of Programs & Resident Life. We recently sat down with her to discuss her new role.
What were you doing before you came to I-House?
Before I joined the staff at I-House, I worked at the Ford Foundation as the Programs Manager in the JustFilms unit. JustFilms was launched in 2011 with a $50-million fund dedicated to the field of documentary filmmaking. Since its launch, JF has funded hundreds of films and digital projects largely dealing with the most important social justice issues of our time. These films have been screened around the world: 2015 Oscar winner Citizen Four, 3½ Minutes, Nas: Time Is Illmatic, The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence, Gideon’s Army, Outlawed in Pakistan, The Trials of Muhammad Ali, etc.
Before joining the Ford staff, I started my tenure in 2005 as a consultant by day while I worked on my own documentary film by night. Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock tells the untold story of forgotten civil rights activist Daisy Bates and her fight to desegregate Little Rock’s Central High School in Arkansas in 1957. When former President Bill Clinton is asked about defining moments in his childhood, he often cites the 1957 Little Rock Central High crisis as the moment when he began to understand race relations in America. My documentary film was broadcast nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens in 2012, and has been shown throughout the U.S. and China.
What is your position and primary responsibilities at I-House?
I feel incredibly privileged to join the I-House staff as the Director of Programs and Resident Life. My primary role will be to lead the design, development, and implementation of a new program strategy that aligns with I-House’s strategic plan and builds on the institution’s rich legacy. Through my department’s innovative programming, I look forward to working collaboratively with the senior staff to: build strong brand identity around 21st century global leadership skills; develop internal and external strategic partnerships; increase the quality and quantity of applicants; generate new revenue sources; and create strong alumni engagement.
What excites and interests you most about working at I-House?
I’m excited by International House’s legacy and mission, which is unique in that it is a lived experience. In every interaction, whether large or small, I anticipate that working at I-House will organically alter my worldview, while reinforcing my views about my place in the world. As a child born in Jamaica and growing up in Brooklyn, New York, I came of age during a time when it was normal to use the terms third world and aliens. Although as a society we’ve made many advances since my childhood, we still have a lot of work to do, and many of the issues I faced growing up in the U.S. still exists today for a new generation of immigrants. In its 90-years of existence, I-House has always stood on the right side of history in its mission and view of our role as world citizens in the global community.
What are some of the things that you hope to accomplish at I-House?
During my tenure at I-House, I plan to begin an ongoing conversation with the residents in order to increase their participation in the leadership training programs and events. Through collaboration with the residents, the goal will be to strengthen International House’s longstanding mission of equipping residents with the values, skills, and competencies to navigate a diverse world. Along with building the strength of the programs and events at I-House, my goal is to design and establish a performance metrics to analyze and assess the success of all programs and events.
Outside of work, what are some of your interests or favorite activities?
When I’m not working, I spend a lot of time attending events in the feature and documentary film world, dining out with friends, reading, traveling, and spending time with my family.