New Task Force Addresses Racial InjusticeOct 27, 2020 10:57AM ● By Cynthia Whitty
The Natick Select Board appointed the following members on Oct. 14 to its newly formed Equity Task Force: Melissa Malone, Town Administrator; Dr. Anna Nolin Superintendent of Schools;Dorothy Blondiet, Human Resources Director; Nora Elbasha, Student Leader School Committee designee; Karen Adelman-Foster Select Board Vice Chair; and Sue Salamoff, Select Board member. The following citizens at large were also appointed: Guimel DeCarvalho, Eric Nguyen, Dr. Tina Opie, Dr. Marilyn Park, and Christine Robinson.
Salamoff was appointed acting chair to organize the first meeting. The Select Board voted “to strongly endeavor to ensure” that the at-large appointees are members of historically marginalized communities, she said.
“A governmental response to racism was something I brought up a few years ago, but the time wasn’t right,” Salamoff explained. “The heightened attention to racial injustice after the death of George Floyd made it clear to both Select Board Vice Chair Karen Adelman-Foster and me that now was the moment to make it happen. The Natick community is ready to look at employment practices and challenges, representation in elected and appointed volunteer committees, recruitment practices, and how welcome and safe marginalized community members feel in Natick.”
Salamoff added, “We areortunate in Natick to have very strong grassroots organizations working on issues of equity, but it takes governmental leadership to tackle structural racism. It’s one thing, however, to say we need governmental leadership, and another thing to determine exactly what form that leadership should take. Ms. Adelman-Foster and I realized that the best approach to government equity could only be understood after a great deal of community input. For that reason, we proposed the Task Force.”
The purpose of the Equity Task Force is to develop a framework to advance equity in Natick, Salamoff said. “The charge of the Task Force will be to recommend to the Select Board the mission, scope, charge, composition, term of service, and authority of a town an entity to advance equity in the Natick community and town government, and to recommend a set of responsibilities for any professional staff needed to help the town pursue this aim. The Task Force will work with a professional consultant that the town engages, if feasible, for the purpose.”
The Task Force will research the experience of other municipalities’ equity-related government entities, as well as what the town and community are doing in the equity sphere.
Salamoff said she hopes the committee will conduct “extensive outreach and listening in order to understand our community’s needs, research into what other municipalities are doing, and [make] recommendations based on that outreach and research. Those recommendations should outline the actions, personnel, and government entity organizational structure that are necessary to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in Natick’s town government and the Natick community.”
Everybody’s input will be very important to the work of the task force. The Equity Task Force intends to keep the Natick community informed and engaged throughout the process, she added.