Vermont League of Cities and Towns
Equity Committee Meeting
April 18, 2022
Members Present: Co-Chair Elaine Wang, VLCT Board member Co-Chair Lucrecia Wonsor, Amanda Jordan Smith, Ellen Kaye, Marguerite Ladd, Al Voegele, and Deborah Wright.
Others Present: VLCT staff: Executive Director Ted Brady, Joe Damiata, Abby Friedman, Karen Horn, Jessica Hill, and Linda Mahns.
Agenda Item #1: Call to order by the Chair. Lucrecia Wonsor called the meeting to order at 1:03 p.m.
Agenda Item #2: Additions and deletions to the Agenda. Lucrecia Wonsor asked if there were any changes needed to be made to the agenda. With no discussion, Al Voegele made a motion to approve the agenda as is. Elaine Wang seconded. Approved unanimously.
Agenda Item #3: Approval of the March 21, 2022 Minutes. Lucrecia Wonsor asked if there were any changes needed for the 3/21/22 draft minutes. With no changes indicated, Marguerite Ladd made a motion to approve March’s minutes. Al Voegele seconded. Minutes were approved unanimously.
Approval of the April 4, 2022 Minutes. Lucrecia Wonsor asked if there were any changes needed for the 4/4/22 draft minutes. With no changes indicated, Deborah Wright made a motion to approve these minutes. Al Voegele seconded. Minutes were approved unanimously.
Approval of the April 5, 2022 Minutes. Lucrecia Wonsor asked if there were any changes needed for the 4/5/22 draft minutes. With no changes indicated, Marguerite Ladd made a motion to approve these minutes. Al Voegele seconded. Minutes were approved unanimously.
Agenda Item #4: Member Updates. Lucrecia Wonsor asked the committee for any updates. Al Voegele began by saying his nomination for committee (Donna Toneattie) has been too sick to fill out the application. Lucrecia Wonsor updated that she spoke with Bob Harnish to receive his feedback on the wording of the Declaration of Inclusion (DOI) that he and his partners collaborated on, saying that they are happy to see tweaks to wording in each municipality so long as it kept to the intention of the document. Amanda Jordan Smith sent a link to show the DOI the Town of Windsor adopted in February 2022. Marguerite Ladd updated that Bob Harnish and partners are working with the Town of Essex and Village of Essex Junction to help them with modifying their DOI and said Middlebury is another town that modified this DOI. Elaine Wang updated that Barre Town’s recent Selectboard packet included a DOI to consider. Lucrecia Wonsor spoke about the quote that was in question and more specifically speaking to the term “the Vermont way.” Discussion went around the room on this term and the various ways it can be interpreted.
Agenda Item #5 Adopt Equity Committee Nominating Committee Report: Ted Brady asked the Committee members to make a motion to approve the Equity Committee Nominating Committee Report, which recommends 5 potential candidates to the Equity Committee. The VLCT Board meeting is scheduled for 4/21/22 and the request was to send this approved report for their consideration and adoption. The 5 candidates are as follows: Cate Cross, Selectboard Vice Chair of Shelburne, Alyssa Johnson, Selectboard Member of Waterbury, Charles Keir, Assistant Fire Chief of Brattleboro, Kathleen Ramsay, Town Manager of Middlebury, and Donna Toneattie, Community Program Facilitator of Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi. Al Voegele made the motion to approve the Equity Committee Nomination Committee Report for submission to VLCT Board. Ellen Kaye seconded. Approved unanimously.
Agenda Item #6: Justice, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategic Plan Working Session. Ted Brady led the Committee through the VLCT JDEIB Strategic Plan, focusing on the last 2 sections and updated the document live during the meeting.
Accessible Information & Communication – Committee members asked to spell out the DEI acronym and include “Justice” before “Diversity,” and add “Belonging” at the end for all communication on VLCT documents, web pages, links, and resources. They worked on verbiage for the 4 Action Items listed under this pillar and had a short discussion on whether or not a handbook is the best option for the needs of this Committee since the Toolkit will offer model policies, templates, best practices, and other training resources. There was a recommendation to add this handbook idea as a “placeholder” for potential future development. Discussion on translation services and other ADA compliance for communications as well as a discussion around a possible future Equity Director occurred.
Meaningful Partnerships – Small changes to the verbiage in the first 3 Action Items occurred and a 4th Action Item was added: “Engage with national local government associations doing equity work, such as the National League of Cities REAL program and ICMA’s Government Alliance on Race and Equity Program, to bring national best practices and resources to Vermont municipalities.”
After these last 2 pillars were reviewed to the Committee’s satisfaction, Lucrecia Wonsor asked for a motion to adopt this Strategic Plan as amended. Elaine Wang made the motion. Deborah Wright seconded. Approved unanimously.
Agenda Item #7: Special Meetings for Equity Committee. Ted Brady notified the Committee that 2 meetings were needed; one meeting to have a work session on the Toolkit items and a second to schedule an Equity training with the consultants Nikki Fuller and Wanda Heading-Grant. Meeting dates have been tentatively scheduled for May 16th at 1 p.m to have the Equity training and May 2nd at 1 pm as a work session for the Toolkit.
Action item: Linda Mahns will send out a poll in the coming weeks to all Committee members to see if a new scheduled date/time might occur after the new members have been onboarded.
Agenda Item #8: Other Business. The June 20th meeting is rescheduled for June 21st in observance of Juneteenth holiday. The next regularly scheduled meeting is May 16, 2022, from 1-2:30 p.m.
Agenda Item #9: Adjourn. Lucrecia Wonsor asked for a motion to adjourn. Elaine Wang made the motion. Al Voegele seconded. The meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m. without objection.
Executive Administrative Assistant