Westridge Welcomes New Head of Lower and Middle School, Dr. Zanita Kelly

Hailey T.

Dr. Zanita Kelly

October 1, 2019

Westridge welcomes Dr. Kelly as the new Lower and Middle School Head. Dr. Kelly is excited to support and empower young women in her new position at Westridge. 

Prior to Westridge, Dr. Kelly worked at St. Mark’s School in Altadena as the Upper School Head for seven years. When returning St. Mark’s alumni spoke about their experience at Westridge, Dr. Kelly noticed their ability to articulate their experience in a sophisticated manner. “When I got here and actually saw what goes into creating these young women who are able to articulate this well from Lower all the way to High School, I was really impressed that this is really Westridge, actually operationalizing their mission.” 

The opportunity to work with girls influenced her decision to apply as the Head of Lower and Middle School for Westridge, as she takes pride in supporting and empowering young girls. “I really love the aspect of focusing on things that empower women, and I like the social-emotional learning of it as well because I think there are some highly specific and particular things that women should be equipped with as they are moving on into the workforce, and just into the larger social, political world,” Dr. Kelly explained. “I am passionate about supporting the development of young women who will live lives of impact and boldly shape the social-political and physical landscape for the betterment of all,” she added. 

Notably, Dr. Kelly is Westridge’s first African American division head in its 106 years. This marks a step forward in Westridge’s goal to become a more inclusive and diverse community. “I believe my presence serves to normalize what may be considered otherness, and it creates an opportunity to redefine norms and serve as a voice for representation where it may have been lacking.” Her passion for equality and diversity go deeper than her school focus, as she co-created the organization Notes to Butterflies with her daughter. “Our focus is to provide girls with the tools necessary to build healthier lives, make strategic decisions, and love themselves fully and without condition,” she explained. 

Dr. Kelly is excited to learn about the community and create a better future for Westridge. “I want to learn how I can use my skill-set and the things that I know that I know to help improve or add value to what is already happening here,” she explained. “I’ll be glad when I feel like I’m really an integral part... right now I feel like everybody is bringing me along, and I hope to be in the center of some of that.”