The Chilmark Town Affairs Council (CTAC), the organization that runs a summer camp at the Chilmark Community Center, has hired a new executive director, Keira Lapsley.
“As an educator for over 20 years, a mother of two and an African-American woman, she brings years of experience and knowledge to the field and shares CTAC’s vision for an inclusive and welcoming environment for our children,” a press release states.
A Wesleyan University and Hunter College graduate, Lapsley previously worked as the middle school history department chair at New York’s Ethical Culture Fieldston School, according to a release.
“Keira comes to us with extensive experience working with summer programs,” a release states. “Most recently she was camp director at Manhattan College Summer Camp where she trained, supervised and evaluated camp staff, created programming and managed parent relationships. With limited resources, she was successful in motivating the counselors to engage with the campers in a safe and fun environment. She has also been the assistant director and manager of operations at Fieldston Outdoors, a day camp run by the Fieldston School. She excels at programming and building and implementing systems both in the classroom and at summer camps.”
The release also states Lapsley is familiar with the Vineyard, having vacationed on the Island for “many summers”.
Lapsley comes into her new job on the coattails of a camp incident where a Black youth had a tent strap wrapped around his neck by two white youths. The incident drew the scrutiny of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and national media coverage. The local NAACP chapter ultimately found the incident was racially insensitive. An investigation of the incident by CTAC found no “overt racial motivation” in what happened to the Black camper. The investigation’s findings didn’t go over well with Vineyard activists. Moreover, the parents of the Black camper sued CTAC and reached a $45,000 settlement in Dukes County Superior Court. With public input from the local NAACP members, CTAC revamped its camp safety policies and other policies with an eye toward preventing a similar incident in the future. The efforts were acknowledged in a positive light by local Black Lives Matter activists.
“Martha’s Vineyard is such a beautiful and unique place that holds many special memories for me,” Lapsley said in the release. “It is my honor to return to the Island in service of the children and community members of the CCC. I look forward to advancing educational programming and participating in many favorable and diverse events this summer and for years to come’.”