Racial Equity Group CEO Bird Guess

The MMA has contracted with the Racial Equity Group to develop a strategic plan to advance diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in local government.

The Racial Equity Group was chosen by a subcommittee of the MMA’s DEI Committee from 15 companies that submitted an application through a competitive RFP process.

The management consulting firm provides advisory services to public and private sector organizations on racial equity, diversity and inclusion strategies, as well as customizing and facilitating racial equity audit assessments and DEI training. The firm has worked with a number of municipalities across the Commonwealth.

The firm’s work for the MMA will primarily focus on the internal operations of local government. The MMA anticipates that a later phase will provide tools and training to support local officials as they engage with the public on broader efforts to advance DEI in the community at large.

“We are thrilled to begin this work with the Racial Equity Group to support municipalities that want to engage in or advance their DEI work,” said DEI Committee Co-Chair and Westwood Town Administrator Christopher Coleman. “We particularly like that the REG develops data-driven strategies to measure, monitor and manage DEI.”

The firm’s framework is focused on advancing racial and gender equity because “these are the most persistent and pervasive inequities throughout our society,” according to CEO Bird Guess. He notes, however, that the framework can be adapted for other social categories as well, such as sexual orientation, age and physical abilities.

“I am excited to begin this journey with the MMA to accelerate advancing equity for all stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth,” he said.

The firm’s work, which will begin immediately, will include DEI training for the MMA’s DEI Committee, which will incorporate developing common language and definitions around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. The firm will also conduct an equity audit of all municipalities to measure the current level of DEI work being implemented. This will include an online survey and focus groups. In addition, the Racial Equity Group will assess work being conducted by other organizations working with municipalities.

From the information gathered, the firm will develop a strategic plan to support cities and towns in their internal DEI work, looking at human resources policies, employee training, operations, policies for boards and committees, establishing DEI positions, and similar activities. The group will also develop metrics and key performance indicators to track local progress, and will develop DEI resources and tools to support municipalities. The strategic plan is due in January of 2024.

The Racial Equity Group will be using the MMA’s DEI Framework as a guide for its work, and will work with the DEI Committee to further shape the framework as the strategic plan is developed. The MMA DEI Committee developed and approved the framework last fall.

A second RFP will be developed for the implementation of the strategic plan.

The DEI subcommittee that chose the Racial Equity Group includes:
• North Andover Deputy Town Manager and DEI Committee Co-chair Dee Casey
• Former Northborough Assistant Town Administrator Becca Meekins (who just joined the Collins Center for Public Management at UMass Boston)
• North Adams Councillor and DEI Committee Co-chair Michael Obasohan (also the chief diversity officer in Pittsfield)
• Sharon Select Board Member Kiana Pierre-Louis
• Stoughton Select Board Member Debra Roberts
• MMA Senior Executive and Director of Communications and Membership Candace Pierce
• MMA Education and Training Coordinator Lily Rancatore

Written by