Vermont League of Cities and Towns
Equity Committee Meeting
November 15, 2021
Via Zoom and in VLCT Offices
Members Present: (attended remotely) Co-Chair Elaine Wang, VLCT Board member Co-Chair Lucrecia Wonsor, Brian Carroll, Joy Dubin Grossman, Ellen Kaye, Phoebe Townsend, and Al Voegele. All attended virtually using Zoom.
Others Present: VLCT staff (attended remotely unless otherwise noted) Executive Director Ted Brady, Municipal Assistance Center Director Abigail Friedman, Public Policy and Advocacy Director Karen Horn, Human Resources Director Jessica Hill (in person,) Executive Administrative Assistant Linda Mahns (in person.) Equity Consultants Dr. Wanda Heading-Grant and Nikki Fuller. Bob Harnish.
Agenda Item #1: Call to order by the Chair. Elaine Wang called the meeting to order at 1:07 p.m.
Agenda Item #2: Additions and deletions to the Agenda. No additions or deletions were made to the agenda.
Agenda Item #3: Approval of the October 18, 2021 Minutes. Elaine Wang asked for a motion to approve October’s minutes. Al Voegele motioned to approve the minutes with the removal of a comma and “and” from members attendance and Brian Carroll seconded. Minutes were approved unanimously.
Agenda Item #4: Welcome new VLCT Board Member representative and Killington Town Clerk Lucrecia Wonsor. After the call to order, Elaine introduced Lucrecia Wonsor to the committee and Equity committee members went around to give quick introductions and what brought them to become public servants and to serve on this committee.
Agenda Item #5 Member Updates: Ellen Kaye shared that Barre City has been successfully using the state’s equity impact assessment tool. Joy Dubin Grossman reported that Hinesburg has hired Creative Discourse to help them reach portions of the community that have been difficult to engage.
Agenda Item #6: Equity Consultant Update. Wanda Heading-Grant gave an update on the consultant’s work to help VLCT. She shared that she and Nikki will be providing feedback on the VLCT equity statement and equity and social justice plan soon. She also reported meeting with Elena Esteban of VLCT to update the VLCT equity resources page (vlct.org/equityresources).
Agenda Item #7: Adopt Equity Committee Charter. Ted Brady went over the changes from the last Equity committee meeting.
Updates offered during meeting:
- Al Voegele asked to include “irrespective of term limitations” after “shall serve as ex-officio members without voting rights.”
- Elect co-chair on beginning of new year -- please differentiate: “1st bus meeting of the year following annual meeting”
- Quorum definitions – Adding words to the effect: “action cannot happen without a quorum and a quorum is defined as a simple majority of voting members (whether virtual or in person).”
Elaine Wang asked for a motion to approve this draft charter as amended. Al Voegele made the motion. Joy Dubin Grossman seconded. Approved unanimously.
After charter revisions are made, the next steps will be to present to the VLCT Board for review and adoption.
Agenda Item #8: Declaration of Inclusion (DOI) TENTATIVE. Elaine Wang gave an overview of the packet inclusion for how this DOI came to be. Ted Brady added how this document has been vetted from VLCT insurance experts, legal advisors, staff, and now is presenting this to the committee for their feedback. Attendees went around the room giving their feedback. Many are excited about the idea of having this as an onboarding tool as well as a tool for discussion and/or creation of an equity committee. Ted Brady welcomed and invited Bob Harnish to speak. He is from the town of Pittsford and one of the authors/collaborators of this DOI. The committee asked if there might be a few versions that could be offered as options for boiler plates that municipalities could adopt and asked Bob Harnish if they might help to wordsmith some of the language on page 5 of the DOI, specifically the sentence stating “The Town of ________ has and will continue to be a place where individuals can live freely and express their opinions.” There’s potential to omit the sentence or reword it to include the word “strives” in place of “has and will” in that sentence. Many members also asked if including the phrase “and express their opinions” unintentionally sends a signal that a town would tolerate racist or hate speech. Elaine Wang asked Ted Brady to share VLCT’s input for DOI Bob Harnish and to include her on that email.
Agenda Item #9: Other Business. Items to add to future agendas:
- Homework that members were asked to bring to bring again for a future agenda (“Kindly bring an image, a quote, some writing, etc., to the meeting that represents the diversity equity and inclusion work we are doing.”)
- Adopt a new co-chair
The committee will meet next on Monday, December 20th from 1-2:30 p.m.
The meeting adjourned at 2:35 p.m. without objection.
Executive Administrative Assistant