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City Introduces the New Ann Arbor Equitable Engagement Steering Committee

Archived News Release: August 2, 2021 - The City of Ann Arbor recently invited community members to apply to participate on the new Ann Arbor Equitable Engagement Steering Committee, and the interest was even greater than anticipated. The city received approximately 80 applications, from which 30 individuals were selected to form the committee. The city is now introducing members of the Ann Arbor Equitable Engagement Steering Committee:

  • Noorunnissa Abbasi, Member of the Ann Arbor Youth Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Educator, Volunteer with Family Support and Family Selection Committees at the Huron Valley Habitat for Humanity and with Childcare Network.

  • Regina Addington, Ann Arbor Public Schools Employee, Advocate for Education, Equity and Community Engagement.

  • Devon Akmon, Director of MSU Museum and Science Gallery Detroit, Former Director of the Arab American National Museum, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Advocate.

  • Charissa Bass, Ann Arbor Public School District Educator, Equity Team Co-lead, Sponsor of Restorative Justice and Conflict Resolution Program.

  • Briana Carpenter, Avalon Housing, University of Michigan New Leaders in African Centered Social Work Scholar and MSW Student, as well as Experience in DEI Group Facilitation and Curriculum Development.

  • Diana Cass, Commissioner on the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission, EEO Diversity and Inclusion Specialist for the Department of Veteran Affairs, Vice President of the Jim Toy Community Center, LGBTQ Advocate.

  • Ashley Chang, DEI Driver at Michigan Medicine Plastic Surgery Clinic.

  • Dandan Chen, Former Educator from China, Avalon Housing, Community Member.

  • Laura Custodio, Educator, Community Member, Socioeconomic Diversity Advocate.

  • Deborah Dean-Ware, Lead Pastor, Church of the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ, Serving a Multi-racial, LBTGQ+ Affirming, Level 1 Sanctuary Congregation.

  • Ebbin Dotson, University of Michigan Health Management and Policy Professor, U-M Health Equity Leadership Pipeline Collaborative Leader Working to Develop and Train Michigan Healthcare Workers on Unconscious and Implicit Bias to Address the State's Training Mandate.

  • Amtheyst Floyd, Advocate for Race, Gender and Socioeconomic Marginalized Groups, Involved with Friends In Deed and Champions of Change Leadership Cohort.

  • Daisy Freitas, (MSC Finance) Michigan Medicine employee and Interpreter for Swahili-speaking Refugees with a Refugee Settlement Program. First-generation Immigrant from Kenya.

  • Lewis A. Gossage, Commissioner on the Ann Arbor Commission on Disability Issues, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living, Advocate for People with Disabilities.

  • Jamila James, Community Member and DEI Advocate.

  • Donna Rich Kaplowitz, Educator and Co-Director of The Program on Intergroup Relations at the University of Michigan, and co-author of Race Dialogues: A Facilitator's Guide to Tackling the Elephant in the Classroom. (2019: Teacher's College Press).

  • Maryam Khodadost, Health system strategy consultant with previous experience supporting Michigan Medicine's Anti-Racism Oversight Committee and health equity planning.

  • Neeki RAD, Community Member and DEI Volunteer.

  • Chloe Root, Ann Arbor Public Schools teacher, DEI Advocate.

  • Bilal Saeed, Chair of AFC Ann Arbor, Steering C ommittee Member of WMBK, Board Member of Hart & TayTrain Foundation, Board Member of The Mighty Oak Project, Founder of Anti Racist Soccer Club, Co-founder of Community Kicks.

  • Isha Savi, Youth Member, Advocate for Homeless Individuals.

  • Ace Sickels, Advocate for DEI, including youth and disability community support.

  • Juliet Slutzker, National Wildlife Federation, Advocate and Collaborator for Community Engagement, Equity and Justice.

  • Kathleen Toplin, A Former Program Manager for the Washtenaw County Senior Nutrition Program (S.N.P.), Advocate for DEI in government and the workplace.

  • Andre Watson, Community Member, DEI Advocate.

  • Matt Weber, Leader with Grounded Solutions Network, a National Nonprofit Organization Helping Build More Inclusive Communities, Focused on Racial Equity and Community Engagement.

  • Terra Webster, Ann Arbor Public Schools Educator, Administrator and DEI Professional Development Leader, Current Ph.D. Fellow at EMU (Critical Race Theory, Social Justice Scholar).

  • Jacquelyn West, Community Member and DEI Advocate.

  • Arthur L. Williams, Ann Arbor Rotary Club Anti-racism Advocate and Civil Rights Activist; 46 years Experience as an Educator, Including Teaching at Middle and Secondary Levels; High School Dean of Students, Assistant Principal and Principal; BA Political Science, Western Illinois University; MA Educational Administration and Supervision Roosevelt University; Ph.D. Educational Administration and Policy Studies, Northwestern University.

  • Wendy Woods, Member of the Ann Arbor (MI) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, NAACP, the Ann Arbor Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and Second Baptist Church, previously served on the Ann Arbor City Council, Planning Commission, Environmental Commission and other City Boards and Commissions.

The Equitable Engagement Committee's purpose is to help the city function in a more inclusive manner by defining what equity and equitable engagement mean to Ann Arborites and uncovering appropriate pathways to bring a greater diversity of voices into local processes.

“The city is aware that not all members of our community are fully represented within the public processes," said Special Projects Manager and Community Engagement Specialist Heather Seyfarth. “And that, ultimately, is what the committee will work to change."

The steering committee will work to unite community members and representatives of local organizations who are committed to advancing equity. The committee will help shape the city's approach to equitable engagement, play an active part in developing the community engagement strategy, serve as connectors to the community and organizations, and help ensure the quality and delivery of outcomes. The committee is going through orientation in August and will be developing a standard meeting schedule. The meeting schedule and meeting details will be posted to the project webpage, All persons will be welcome to attend regular meetings and a public comment period will be available. In addition, all community members are being encouraged to stay informed and to watch for ways to participate in this initiative by subscribing for updates via the steering committee website,

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Media Contact Information

Heather Seyfarth
Special Projects Manager and Community Engagement Specialist
734.794.6430, ext. 42590
[email protected]

Ann Arbor has 123,851 residents, spans 28.97 square miles and is frequently recognized as a foremost place to live, learn, work, thrive and visit. To keep up with City of Ann Arbor information, subscribe for email updates, and follow the city on Twitter and Facebook. The city's mission is to deliver exceptional services that sustain and enhance a vibrant, safe and diverse community.