#MACoCon Attendees Discuss Best Practices for DEI in Local Governance

Diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) are increasingly important concepts. At the 2021 MACo Winter Conference, county leaders discussed how to better incorporate DEI into local governance work.

At the 2021 MACo Winter Conference Opening Roundtable, “Exploring Opportunities for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Local Governance,” attendees were in conversation with an expert panel about the challenges and opportunities for today’s local governments to “walk the talk” when it comes to DEI. 

Attendees discussed the importance of policy informed by diverse voices and experiences and shared best practices for incorporating them into county decision making.

The session was moderated by Carolyn Mozell, who has served in some of the highest levels of local government leadership for over 25 years, and who currently trains and counsels leadership in DEI.

Participating in the important conversation were Michael Hughes, Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer for Frederick County and Lisa Gary, Executive Director, Equity and Inclusion at the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.

Panelists stressed the importance of not only inviting communities and diverse voices to the table, but to task them with helping counties do the work of DEI — and holding them accountable.

Hughes noted that after Frederick County invited community members to share their perspective, the county is now accountable to those people it listened to. He stressed that listening and learning aren’t one-time activities; they’re ongoing, especially regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Garry reinforced that this work is for everyone — not just leaders hired to do the work. She also encouraged counties to incorporate DEI in all aspects of work, from policy, to administrative and even budgeting work.

The session was held on December 8, 2021, at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, Maryland.

More about MACo’s Winter Conference: