The town of Wellesley has announced the 18 members of a new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force that has been in the works since the end of last year. About 40 people volunteered to be on the task force, which includes members the town says “bring a broad range of identities, perspectives, and life experiences to this work.”
Members include those already well known in town through their positions in public office, as well as those whose work on diversity issues might be done more behind the scenes.
The members are:
- Melinda Arias-Voci
- Gary Arthur
- John Benzan
- Linda Chow
- Tony Clark
- Leda Eizenberg
- J’Lesia Jones
- Glen Kim
- Ann-Mara Lanza
- Ayla Lari
- Lisa Macdonald
- Paul Merry
- Lina Musayev
- Lise Olney
- Tere Ramos
- Odessa Sanchez
- Donna Stoddard
- Robin Tusino
Odessa Sanchez says she jumped at the opportunity to apply to join the task force. “I’ve lived and worked in Wellesley for the past 12 years and if one of the goals is to identify and prioritize the needs of historically underrepresented people, I think it’s useful to have myself, a member of the marginalized community present,” she says.
Sanchez, who serves as a Wellesley Housing Authority commissioner, hopes the task force will help bring about “generational changes, to be put in action, not just on paper.”
She adds: “Wellesley should be a town that values differences between its citizens and shares an authenticity of belonging. Every person has the right to voice contrary opinions without fear of negative consequences.”
Another member, Gary Arthur, has been an active community member since arriving in town, such as through his work on the Village Table program to help feed those in need. “As a super informed socially linked person I believe I lend not only great understanding but also tangible thoughts and solutions towards positive outcomes,” he says.
Arthur is hopeful that that the task force can help to bring about “a better-for-all attitude” for how Wellesley moves forward.
“Our work and these conversations need to remain transparent, active, and acted on,” he says. “[I’m] hoping our cultural perception evolves to be more than rich and white. This is not a true interpretation of our community, however, it is a prominent one.”
The group, scheduled to begin meeting regularly in December, will focus on these initial tasks:
- Creating a vision statement for racial equity in Wellesley
- Developing a mission statement for this work
- Developing and identifying a work plan supporting the goal of racial equity
- Establishing community guiding principles and practices to support anti-bias, nondiscriminatory, and anti-racist behaviors and attitudes
These efforts will build on previous DE&I work in town.
The Wellesley Select Board recently issued a statement to reaffirm its anti-bias and anti-racism commitment in response to reported incidents that have occurred in town.