How Naperville is Tackling Diversity Equity and Inclusion Issues

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Tucked away on the second floor of Naperville’s Municipal Center you’ll find the office of the city’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Manager.

Filling the new role is Dr. Geneace Williams, who has a background as an attorney, teacher, and a consultant with over 10 years of experience in a DEI role.

Her goal for the position is simple.

End Goal

“It’s to effect positive change,” said Williams. “And positive change, for me, always means we confront our growing edges.”

Williams is still figuring out what Naperville’s growing edges are, as she’s two months into the DEI role.

Conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion aren’t always the easiest, but Williams says she’s creating a safe space so those things can be discussed.

“What they say to me they won’t see again with their name written all over it,” said Williams. “The information that I’m collecting about the experiences that people have had, and are having in Naperville, will be pulled together and used to help build the programs.”

3-L Approach

Having discussions is the first step in Williams’ three L approach, which includes listening, learning, and leveraging.

That process will take several months Williams said, but afterward she hopes to create programs to address the needs and concerns of community members.

Approved last year by city council, William’s DEI position will tackle several issues including citywide diversity training and fair housing.

One of the biggest obstacles Williams will need to overcome is reaching those who may not always have a voice.

Williams is working with faith, school, and many more community organizations so everyone can have a seat at the table and have their voice heard.

Lasting Legacy

Though she’s just two months in, Williams hopes her legacy will have a positive impact on Naperville.

“I want to be able to look at data, and the data to show that when I started this position we were here,” said Williams. “And the data shows, that when I conclude this position, we are there. And that is in a positive direction.”

In the pursuit of that, Williams will be guided by the city’s core values: people, respect, trust, and pride.

Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.


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