WACD members will recall that there are two new committees being formed. This post is a quick snapshot view of where we are in that process.

Joint Committee on Elections

The Washington State Conservation Commission and WACD are jointly forming a committee (the Joint Committee on Elections, or JCE) to discuss conservation district election reforms. To accomplish this, WSCC sought volunteers (see: 20210203 Seeking CD volunteers to serve on election reform committee) from across the state among the ranks of conservation district supervisors and staff. In most areas of the state, multiple people volunteered.

WSCC and WACD are in the process of finalizing invitations to serve on the JCE. We expect those invitations to go out next week.

Limiting the size of the JCE to something large enough to be representative but small enough to not be unwieldy means that not all volunteers will be selected to serve. However, we intend to extend an invitation for other volunteers to assist by reviewing work products from time to time. WSCC and WACD are also committed to transparency so frequent updates will be provided to conservation districts.

To this end, we have created a barebones web page to help us capture and convey information about the work of the JCE. There is little there yet but it should become populated with more information sometime next week. Find it at: https://wadistricts.us/wacd/committees/joint-committee-on-elections/

We hope all interested conservation district supervisors and staff will follow and contribute to the work of this committee. Here are some ways for you to do that:

Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

WACD is also working on forming a committee on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), in response to two resolutions (see: 2020 Adopted Resolutions on Diversity) adopted in December 2020 by a majority of eligible voters who participated in the WACD annual business meeting.

Resolution 2020-05

WACD will convene a committee to develop a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policy recommendation by September 2021. This recommendation will be provided to all Conservation Districts for consideration at their Area Meetings with action by the WACD at its annual meeting. The Committee will also provide information, suggested resources, and guidance for districts that are interested in developing their own diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Resolution 2020-06

WACD will create a DEI Committee that will consider the following actions and develop any recommendations by September 2021 to all Conservation Districts for consideration at their Area Meetings for possible action by the WACD at its annual meeting.to include but not limited to the following:
1 – The Commission and WACD help conservation districts to work with underrepresented communities in their service area to understand what natural resource concerns are important to them and to find ways to incorporate those natural resources concerns into the conservation district’s book of business.
2 – To encourage conservation districts to prioritize equity in the services they offer and in employment decisions.
3 – That the Commission and WACD organize annual diversity, equity, and inclusion seminars that are made available to all Conservation District Supervisors and Managers.
4 – That WACD and the Commission work with districts to make elections more public and to ensure that communities of color are engaged around elections.
5 – That the commission recruits and retains a diversity, equity, and inclusion officer that will work with the election’s officer to promote engagement of communities of color across the state and address the disparity gap around services and elections.
6 – That WACD asks conservation districts and the Washington State Conservation Commission to take actions to encourage more diversity in conservation district supervisor positions both elected and appointed.

Forming this committee is taking longer than the Joint Committee on Elections because our member conservation districts have not been discussing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) nearly as long as they have been discussing conservation district elections. Conversations are DEI are still new and raw to many of our members. WACD is moving forward slowly, with care and compassion, as we work to bring the Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into being.

WACD leadership also realizes that none of us have all the answers. Since there are strong feelings about DEI (both positive and negative), we are seeking an experienced facilitator who is trained in this topic.

What comes next?

Next week, we expect invitations to go out for the Joint Committee on Elections. We also expect to publish more content on the JCE webpage linked above.

With luck, in the next week or two we’ll be able to begin negotiating a contract with a facilitator to help us with the Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.