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Photo of Lacey Rogers provided by the City of Athens.

City of Athens hires DEIA coordinator, evaluates diversity within city

Diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility was recently a larger priority for the city of Athens. 

On Oct. 6, the city of Athens announced Lacey Rogers as the city's first diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) training coordinator. 

Rogers' responsibilities include apprising City Council of DEIA office efforts and coordinating further training for all Athens city employees, Council President Chris Knisely said. Rogers started in the position on Sept. 13, according to a news release

"I am also focused on looking at our policies and procedures from a DEIA lens, as well as trying to recruit diverse candidates to work for the city," Rogers said

Rogers graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Arts in Women's and Gender Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Visual Communications in Commercial Photography. 

Rogers graduated again from OU with a Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health and Rehabilitation Counseling and a Master of Public Administration.

Rogers previously worked as a licensed professional counselor at Hopewell Health Center. She also led implicit bias training for local organizations and helped facilitate an anti-racism course at Athens High School.

The mayor's office approached the Council with the idea of a DEIA after discussing diversity and inclusion issues in the city and participating in related workshops hosted by the Athens County Foundation, Knisely said. The City Council supported the move, and the city began the hiring process. 

Rogers did not provide information regarding her salary prior to publication.

"One of the things (the city) struggles with is the dedication of individuals with the HR department because I only have two other people who work in HR, to diversify where we're attracting talent to come here to Athens," Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said. "To make sure we have a more diverse workforce for the city of Athens."

Since starting her position, Rogers has reviewed city policies and procedures and continues to facilitate the PRISM LGBTQ Youth Art Program. 

Rogers has also aided in the application process for the National League of Cities Race, Equity and Leadership (REAL) training program. Along with other cities in the nation, Athens city employees will complete a year's training with the Racial, Equity and Leadership Institute, Patterson said.

Patterson said it would be a long journey to ensure the city is racially equitable, but it starts with recognizing that systemic racism exists. 

"I think having a DEI coordinator is going to really call to everyone's attention that … there's things that we need to correct within the city when it comes to systemic racism and acknowledging that we have to be more equitable in our community," Patterson said. 

Knisely said she hopes the creation of the DEIA coordinator will allow Rogers to educate City Council representatives and the community further on related issues. 

"I'm hoping the city can lead by example by having this DEIA coordinator, and send the message that we are an inclusive organization as a city of Athens, specifically, but then more broadly as the Athens community, that we are wanting to embrace diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility," said Knisely. 

While the position is a large undertaking, Rogers said it is important for the city to become more inclusive within its internal operations and external likeability. 

"We're on the right path in terms of being in a position where we are really putting this at the forefront as something that we want to do to continue to make Athens a safe and welcoming place that people want to come to and want to stay at," said Rogers.


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