Racial Equity Steering Committee
Michael Herbert introduced the Racial Equity Study Group during the Ashland Board of Selectmen Meeting on August 5th, 2020. "In light of the recent murder of George Floyd and the global response it generated, I felt it was more important than ever to understand the perceptions of the town by people of color and how we can do a better job of creating an inclusive community for all,” said Herbert.
Michael Herbert, Town Manager
Jenn Ball, Assistant Town Manager
Makeda Keegan, Community Member
KG Narayana, Community Member
Rabbi Eric Gurvis, Community Member
October 2022 Update
Recap from The Select Board Meeting on Wednesday, October 12, 2022 (Minute Mark 1:16)
The Ashland Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force's was formed earlier this year. Their mission is to develop policy recommendations and regulations that can be adopted and used by the Select Board and Town Manager to guide Ashland in making our community more open, welcoming, and equal for all its residents.
The current members of the task force include Makeda Keegan, KG Narayana, Rabbi Eric Gurvis of Sha’arei Shalom Temple, Moala Kitayimbwa and Sentie Kironde of Ashland Residents for Equity and Action, and Anne Krauss, Karen Waldstein, and Rajashree Ghosh of Ashland is United, along with Assistant Town Manager Jenn Ball and myself.
Since being formed in April. DEI Task Force has specified goals to focus on, including- Economic & Business Development, DEI in Government, Equal Accessibility and Development, and Community Engagement and Outreach.
Since April, this group has spent time examining two areas of focus, the Economic Development and Business component and the DEI in Government components setting goals and objectives.
For the Business and Economic Development objective, the team established the following goals- Ensure equal access to opportunities & Support for all businesses in Town, Implement and expand programming, outreach, and promotion, Encourage businesses to hire a more diverse workforce, and Integrate diverse arts & culture into our Economic Development activities.
For the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Government objective, the team established the following goals- Diversify our membership on elected and appointed Boards and Committees, Diversify our staff/employees and ensure they have the tools to respect the entire Community, Ensure that our policies are reflective of the entire community.
As the Town moves to implement these objectives, the task force also hopes to use the designated State Funding to hire a consultant that specifically specializes in assisting municipalities in moving forward with Ashland’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I want to specifically recognize Senate President Karen Spilka and Representative Jack Lewis for their work in securing $75,000 for this effort.
The Task Force plans to host a community event in January 2023, so we can continue to build relationships with our public safety departments and the community.
February 2022 Update
The Town Manager discussed the next steps at the Select Board meeting on February 16, 2022 (minute mark 0:79:09). Suffolk University used its expertise following information in the Racial Equity Study to provide recommendations for the town to implement and begin a journey to create a more open and welcoming community. The questions that arose were how to take that data and information to implement an action plan.
With this, we need more information to make specific recommendations. Town Manager, Michael Herbert, proposed establishing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force for the purpose of establishing policy recommendations for the Select Board to adopt. Some additional areas of focus are equity and land use decisions should be a focus, equity in our volunteer appointed boards and committees, and establishing a grievance process for complaints. These created policies will have clearly defined goals, objectives, and metrics to help the Town determine the progress made toward achievements.
Based on conversations amongst the Racial Equity Steering Committee, this task force would include members of the Racial Equity Steering Committee, a person representing the youth of our community, non-governmental organizations- a member of the Ashland Residents for Equitable Action (AREA) and Ashland is United, a representative from the school and police departments at all times. Other Town Department employees would be brought into conversations as needed.
January 2022 Update
We are so excited to announce, the final report from Suffolk University is now available. The Town Administration is proud to use this document as the foundation for future efforts. Over the past couple of years, we've established long-term and short-term goals based on the feedback. With this final report, we are committed to establishing a plan on this report's findings.
"I want to reinforce that this study that you see, is not the final step, by any means. It’s actually just the first step and what we believe is going to be a long, but hopefully transformative process” - Michael Herbert, Town Manager
September 2021 Update
Thank you for participating in a focus group or completing the survey distributed through our partners, Suffolk University. We appreciate you sharing your experiences and enhancing our community for all!