History Social Equity Racial Justice Committee

History of Social Equity and Racial Justice Advisory Committee
September 2023
Click here to see all the agendas and minutes.
Click here to view SERJ recorded meetings.

May 2021

The Social Equity and Racial Justice Commission was created by the City Council in May 2021 and adopted by Ordinance.

June 2021

Nine members were appointed to serve on the commission.

September 2021

First regular SERJ meeting

February 2022

Co-chairs Simon and Muse gave the first report to the City Council and requested the following:
1. Fund and hire a full-time Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Manager for the City of Ashland organization (not approved).

2. Engage a conciliatory service to interface with the DEI Manager (not approved).

3. Provide future funding for a Juneteenth street banner (done, the new Juneteenth banner was completed and hung over Main Street for two weeks in June 2023).

4. Add calendar dates for religious holidays to the City of Ashland Internal Master Calendar (done).

May 2022

Members of the Health and Human Services Committee attended the SERJ meeting and presented an overview of their work through a lens of social equity.

June 2022

The City Council tentatively approved an allocation of $40,000 to conduct an internal DEI Assessment and an allocation of $20,000 for the Ashland for Everyone Project. 

September 2022

Resolution 2022-24 was adopted changing SERJ from a commission to an advisory committee and modifying the roles and responsibilities of the committee.

Members of the Public Art Commission attended the SERJ regular meeting and spoke about their efforts to secure the first piece of public art by local Black artist Micha Blackfoot.

October 2022
Co-chairs Emily Simon and Precious Yamaguchi presented the SERJ annual report to the City Council.  The report supported the City Manager’s decision to conduct an internal DEI assessment and its support of the Ashland for Everyone project. 

In addition, the report noted the support of the Public Art project and read aloud a statement denouncing the recent threats to OSF Artistic Director Nataki Garrett.

Members of SERJ marched in the Pride parade.

November 2022

Police Chief Tighe O’Meara attended the SERJ meeting. 

January 2023

SERJ wrote a statement recognizing Black History Month.  The statement was posted on the city’s website. A proclamation in support of MLK was read at the council meeting.

At the January meeting, SERJ committed to participating in the following holidays: MLK, Juneteenth, Indigenous People’s Day and the Pride Parade.  In addition, two SERJ members committed to hosting an Asian Heritage Event.

February 2023

Ashland School District Superintendent and the Director of Equity and Learning attended the SERJ meeting to discuss the DEI efforts and progress at Ashland Schools.

SERJ expressed support for the Proclamation condemning and rejecting antisemitism proposed by co-chair Simon.   The Proclamation was read by the Mayor at the February City council meeting.  SERJ requested the City of Medford Committee on Access, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Medford seek a similar proclamation to be read in Medford.

March 2023

Police Chief Tighe O’Meara attended the SERJ regular meeting and responded to several questions sent to him from SERJ.

Co-chair Simon reported on the Sunrise Project.  Click here to read more.

April 2023
The City formally allotted $40,000 to contract with a consultant to conduct an internal DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) assessment of the organization. A consultant was hired in May of 2023 and the work will begin in the fall of 2023.

SERJ members were invited to help draft the scope of work for the RFP (Request for Proposal) but declined to do so.  Staff wrote the RFP and posted the document in November 2022.  Nineteen responses were received and reviewed by six staff members based on the criteria detailed in the RFP.  Paradigm Consultants was selected to conduct the work.

Click here to view the RFP.

The City also formally allocated $20,000 for a project called Ashland for Everyone.  The SERJ liaison to the project is co-chair Yamaguchi. The Ashland for Everyone project seeks to develop a program to engage the business community to advance Ashland as an opening and welcoming community.

Members of the Planning Committee attended the SERJ regular meeting and spoke of their work through the lens of social equity and inclusion.

May 2023

The City Manager approved the expenditure of $600 for a new Juneteenth banner.

June 2023

SERJ approved the proposed Labor Acknowledgment (LA) from Simon.  SERJ requested the LA be read prior to all city meetings.

Mayor Graham requested SERJ focus on several items moving forward and to develop a work plan for the upcoming year. She noted that it is important for the council and the community to hear what committees are working on.

Staff organized two two-day diversity training sessions with Common Ground Conversations.  The training occurred in April and May.  Approximately 60 employees attended.

August 2023
Co-chairs Simon and Yamaguchi presented the SERJ annual report to the City Council and spoke about the Labor Acknowledgement. 

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