Troy Smith this week started his job as Natick’s first director of equity, inclusion & outreach, the culmination of an effort by the town over the past few years to hire such an administrator. Smith is expected to introduce himself to the public at a Select Board meeting in June.
Smith comes to Natick from North Shore Community College, where he has been a tenured professor in behavioral science, most recently teaching sociology. He has consulted with the city of Lynn on equity and inclusion matters.
During the summer and fall of 2020 following George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis and the protests that took place locally and across the country, Natick and other communities vowed to take steps toward ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion in all they do. Natick formed an 11-member Equity Task Force that did its work throughout the end of 2020 and into 2021, and recommended formation of a standing DEI committee. The Select Board asserted over the summer of 2021 that it would sponsor a Fall Town Meeting article that would pave the way for Natick to hire its first chief diversity officer.
Natick began seeking a director in March of 2022, but was challenged to find enough strong candidates—a challenge other organizations have had as well. It’s been particularly tough for municipalities wooing talent against well-heeled corporations. Natick reposted its job listing last October.
That job posting read: The position is responsible for the development of diversity, equity and inclusion programs for the Town, leading/supporting the Town’s efforts to support disproportionately impacted populations impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, and engage with the Select Board and relevant stakeholders in advancing such work. The Director of Equity, Inclusion & Outreach will work to develop and operationalize a long-term program of initiatives that will develop a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture, target support for disproportionately impacted populations of the COVID-19 pandemic, and develop priorities that provide opportunities to build diversity and inclusive practices into the Town’s operations. The Director of Equity, Inclusion & Outreach will work with boards/committees of the Town as well as community groups as necessary and described in the essential job functions. For purposes of this position description, social equity is meant to include race/ethnicity, physical ability, LBGTQIA+ identity, socio-economic status as examples, but is intended to be inclusive of all people.
It’s expected that Natick will now revisit the idea of forming a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, an effort it decided to postpone until hiring a director.