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June 24, 2021

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Notre Dame’s director of diversity and inclusion combines her NDP experience with a law degree to help build “a safe, just, equitable and affirming community for all.”

Notre Dame’s director of diversity and inclusion, Kala Parker NDP’00, is with her family: husband Stephen, and children Preston, 7, Zoe, 2, and Kevin, 6.

When Kala (Thomas) Parker graduated from Notre Dame Prep in 2000 she headed to her first college of choice, Purdue, to major in medical technology because she wanted to got into forensic science. She soon discovered that although the field was extremely interesting, it wasn’t for her.

“I actually didn’t at all like the classes required for the major,” said Notre Dame’s director of diversity and inclusion. So she changed her major during her sophomore year to law and society, a combination of sociology and criminology, and she loved it. She also minored in psychology.

While an undergrad, to no one’s surprise, Parker was very active in student society. At Purdue, she was the membership chair of the Epsilon Rho Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. But her memberships didn’t stop there. Thomas also was part of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the Mortar Board National Honor Society, and she served as the 2nd vice president of the Black Student Union.

Upon completion of her studies at Purdue, Parker decided to apply to and get her law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing.

During her tenure at Cooley, Parker continued her very active student lifestyle. She participated in the Moot Court Program as a first year competitor. She also was an intra-school competitor, a judge, a senior judge, and a teaching assistant/competition coordinator in the program, in addition to time spent as a legal intern in Cooley’s estate planning clinic. She also was a coach for a Michigan Youth-in-Debate team.

Parker always has noted how Notre Dame Prep prepared her for life after high school. In fact, she said her first year at Purdue was like 13th grade at ND Prep. “I realized after getting to know other people in college that not everyone had the same advantage as I had from attending Prep.”

Gregory Simon ND‘89, who currently is NDPMA’s director of admissions, taught Parker world cultures and government at NDP, and Dolores Connors Elbode was her French teacher.

“Among many, those two teachers were especially inspiring to me throughout my time at NDP and beyond,” she said.

Simon noted that as a high school student it was clear that Parker was going to be successful. “She was bright, well-mannered, and had a maturity that is always wonderful to see in young people,” he said.

Simon eventually brought Parker in as a staff member in the school’s admissions department where she focused on lower school enrollment and eventually served as the point person for NDPMA’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiative.

Now focused exclusively on DEI at the school, she’s well-suited to take it to the next level. Her role as director of DEI is now an independent role, and it’s split into two main functions: recruiting, on-boarding, and supporting scholarship students from the local community; and facilitating diversity, equity and inclusion programing, and providing DEI resources for faculty and students.

“Notre Dame began its diversity journey 20 years ago by dedicating a position to DEI and stressing its importance,” she said. “We began by developing a diversity statement to guide our work and to complement the mission of working with God to form Christian persons and upright citizens and academic scholars.”

She said that soon after a DEI position was established in 2001 (Parker took over in 2014), the school partnered with a community organization led by an alum to provide scholarships to high-potential students from the local community.

“This effort changed the landscape of our school, increasing our racial, ethnic, geographic, language and socioeconomic diversity and positively impacting our school culture,” Parker said. “As the program grew, it was necessary for our level of support of programming to also evolve. We could no longer just focus on diversifying our student body; we had to evolve to focus on equity, or access to all that Notre Dame has to offer, and inclusion, or a true sense of belonging within the school.”

To that end, the Board of Trustees appointed a committee on diversity, equity and inclusion in early 2020 and it’s first initiative was evaluating the entire school community by conducting a cultural assessment to determine current DEI strengths and challenges and discover what needs to change.

“Through focus groups and a community-wide survey, we gathered data that will allow us to create strategic goals for DEI,” she said. “Our initial report will be published later this summer, but we plan to continue to assess ourselves at regular intervals in the coming years.

“This focus on diversity, equity and inclusion is about our entire community—students, faculty/staff, administration, coaches and alumni,” Parker added. “All of these groups are integral parts of our history and all have a stake in our future. Our goal is to be a safe, just, equitable and affirming community for all.”

When Parker’s not on campus helping to build that kind of community, she’s generally 

“I also love yoga and getting near the water, so I try to do both as much as possible,” she said. “I am also in the process of renewing my law license and am excited to learn more about DEI work in the field of law and how it intersects with the education arena.”

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at