On Monday June 21st, all five members of the Waterbury select board, along with the town clerk and municipal manager met with Mary Gannon, Ed D. of Strategies for Growing Just & Diverse Organizations to undertake a training session concerning Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The three hour session was designed to assist the Town of Waterbury in strengthening its muscle for social equity and justice, to support an approach of aligning policies and practices to its core values. In addition, the training was designed to help participants to understand that effective and enduring change occurs when informal and formal leadership and community members adopt and model new knowledge, policies and practices within their respective organization or community.
Participants acknowledged that gaining an understanding that long-term, sustainable change in philosophical perspective and in the day to day approach of local governance and service delivery requires that local stakeholders, community members and historically silenced voices are part of the development and implementation of this work.
The participants, led by Ms. Gannon, worked on understanding concepts such as lived experience, intent versus impact, and the power of word choice. The group discussed the responsibility of town leadership to set the example for the tone and type of conversation around equity and social justice.
Looking ahead, the select board members discussed strategies for viewing, amending, and creating policies through the lens of equity, in part by asking, “Does this work for everybody?” The select board, municipal manager, and town clerk are committed to ensuring that Waterbury’s actions support the Statement of Inclusion adopted in January 2021.
The participants agreed that continued efforts are required to understand the complexity of this issue and that this transformative process will take place incrementally over time. All committed to listen to and work with the community to gain better understanding and to work to implement structural changes in service delivery where necessary. The board will discuss additional training opportunities at its next meeting scheduled for July 6th.