River Forest to launch equity and inclusion initiative

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By Robert J. Lifka

Contributing Reporter

River Forest officials at the Sept. 14 virtual village board meeting took the first step toward ensuring the village is a community where there is a commitment to a culture of equity and inclusion, scheduling a committee of the whole meeting for Sept. 21 to discuss forming two advisory groups, one internal and the other external.

"This won't be an easy conversation," Village President Cathy Adduci said.

The committee of the whole discussion is expected to be followed by adoption, at the Sept. 29 village board meeting, of a resolution committing to a call to action to address a culture of equity and inclusion.

The internal advisory group of 10 to 12 community and staff members would provide guidance, feedback and advice to the village board. The village administrator will create an action plan that focuses efforts on all village departments and develop proper data points to measure equality and inclusion.

The external group would begin a larger community conversation and interaction centered on equity and inclusion, utilizing the existing Twin Villages partnership with the village of Maywood.

The group will also create a new partnership with Dominican University in River Forest using the school's framework in "Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation," an effort to prepare the next generation of strategic leaders and thinkers to break down racial hierarchies and dismantle the belief in the hierarchy of human value.

Sheila Radford-Hill and Sister Peggy Ryan of Dominican University are expected to attend the Sept. 21 meeting. The Twin Villages Covenant, approved by both villages' boards earlier this summer, is designed "to guide the overarching spirit of our distinct towns to think as one and to interact in more collaborative ways."

The process is expected to include updating the village's welcoming resolution adopted in 2017, which addressed equity and inclusion but focused on immigration issues.

Village Administrator Eric Palm explained that the Sept. 21 meeting will be a "deeper dive" after trustees have had a week to "digest and reflect."

Trustee Respicio Vazquez was the only trustee to comment, saying, "I'm looking forward to it." 

This story has been changed to correct the date of the village board meeting where the equity and inclusion resolution is expected to come up for a vote by trustees.




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