Northglenn’s Diversity, Inclusivity and Social Equity board gave the city council their first update, with a busy first year behind them.
“I think you’re the hardest working board we have right now,” said Mayor Meredith Leighty at the Dec. 6 city council meeting.
Council created the board in August 2020 after a summer of protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd. Sarah Woodson, a co-chair of the board, notes the mayor’s initiative to talk about diversity led to the formation of the board to investigate how to weave a more diverse fabric of the city.
Rayana Blackmon, secretary of the board, said the purpose of the board is “to support city council’s strategic focus on diversity in the use of community feedback to influence future decision making to promote diversity.”
They review the current and proposed policy as it relates to diversity, inclusivity and social equity, provide recommendations to the city council on how to promote diversity, and to work with other boards in the Northglenn to ensure diversity, inclusivity and social equity commitments.
According to Woodson, their three main accomplishments the past year were their Pride event, community listening session and the black history event.
Listening sessions serve as a space for citizens to voice their concerns to the board, with a focus on connecting with the youth. Then, the board reports back to the mayor and council.
“The community listening sessions really consist of us having a better understanding of how we implement diverse policy and then taking that back to council,” Woodson said.
As well, the listening sessions also serve a purpose to bridge understanding of concepts and initiatives. In the future, the board plans to hold sessions discussing gender-neutral language and naming indigenous land.
Out of Pride
Deja Moore, an at-large member of the board, explained that because Northglenn raised a Pride flag for its Out of Pride event, it encouraged Thornton as well. But it didn’t come easy.
Moore said there was not consensus among Thornton councilors initially and lack of understanding why it mattered to LGBTQ+ residents. There was also concern that if they raised the Pride flag, the city would also need to fly other flags.
Members of the Northglenn board testified at the Thornton City Council’s June 8 meeting to explain the importance of the symbolic measure.
“I think you really get to penetrate people’s hearts, and once you penetrate your person’s heart with the proper information, you can always get them to change their mind,” Woodson said.
After the testimony, Thornton decided to raise it after a 5-4 vote. The board noted this as an accomplishment from the past year.
Woodson explained for Northglenn to be more inclusive, creating more diverse boards, naming a landmark after a person of color and boards undergoing diversity training are all steps the city can take.
To the landmark, Woodson suggests Odell Barry, who was the first African-American mayor of Northglenn from 1980-1982. He was also a Denver Bronco and a businessman in Northglenn, she said.
At the Dec. 6 city council meeting, responses from the City Council came back positive.
“These are important conversations and different viewpoints that our city needs to have,” Councilor Julie Duran Mullica said.
Additionally, Woodson notes that community members stay enthusiastic about the board and participation remains high.
“It’s definitely a privilege to be able to sit on the board and do the work,” Woodson said.