Shrewsbury seeks members for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging committee

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Shrewsbury seeks members for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging committee
Shrewsbury’s Town Hall stands within the town’s municipal campus off Maple Street. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – The newly established Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Committee is looking for new members.

The committee, which was approved by the Select Board during a meeting on Aug. 23, aims to foster an environment that embraces diversity. 

According to Select Board member Beth Casavant, who also served on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, the committee must have seven members, including one high school junior or senior. 

However, there were initially not enough applicants. 

Of course, I was expecting more interest given the topic and because this is a new committee, but people are busy and may just need additional time to express their interest,” Casavant said. 

In response to the initial lack of interest from residents, the board extended their application deadline until Oct. 18 and so far, has received interest from four applicants, according to Principal Department Assistant Taylor Galusha. 

Difference between task force; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging committee 

Following the death of George Floyd in 2020, the Select Board established the task force.

The task force ran for one year, and it later wrote and presented a final report to the Select Board last fall. Among their suggestions, the task force recommended forming a permanent committee. 

As Casavant described it, the task force was made up of 25 members, who primarily focused on racism issues. The committee has a broader focus and diversity of all kinds can be supported, she said. 

Throughout the development of the committee, the task force worked with Visions Inc., a nonprofit organization aimed at educating people through innovative training tools, public advocacy and consulting models, so they can create environments where differences are embraced and utilized to benefit their community. 

“The place that we started from was a task force. The task force actually did many of the things that these more traditional diversity and inclusion committees are doing,” Casavant said. 

Unlike the task force, the committee will have fewer members and will exclude members who already serve on town boards and committees. 

However, the committee will not have to go through this process or base its work on the recommendations of the task force, according to Casavant.

“The DEIB Committee has its own charge, which is separate from the original task force,” Casavant said. 

Town leaders weigh in

Town Manager Kevin Mizikar said that the committee will help the town government “excel” by ensuring that the board is composed of diverse members and that the policies and practices of the committee enables a “strong sense of belonging for all employees.” 

School Committee Chair Lynsey Heffernan, who also served on the task force, said she believes that enough residents will apply to fill the vacant spots.

“This is important work. I still feel very optimistic that as a community Shrewsbury is going to step up,” she said. 

If you are interested in applying to serve on the DEIB Committee, you must be a Shrewsbury resident and must submit a letter of interest and qualifications to the Office of the Select Board, or by email to [email protected] no later than October 18, 2022 at 4:30 p.m.  

Please see the link below for more information. https://shrewsburyma.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=6972

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