Henrico’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Shanone Sport, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Specialist

Henrico County is committed to providing a workplace where employees feel valued, all voices are heard, and opportunities are extended equally to everyone. With the announcement of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Specialist position, I wanted to share more about my duties and the vision for the role.  

The DEI Specialist role was created to highlight and reinforce the Board of Supervisors’ commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as guiding principles for our organization. Everyone must understand the terms diversity, equity, and inclusion and their meaning so that we are all using the same language. The Center for Creative Leadership, a worldwide leadership development organization, defines them as:

  • Equity-Fair and contextually-appropriate access to the resources and opportunities required for every individual, group, organization, and community to attain their full potential. 
  • Diversity –Collective blend of characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, and behaviors among individuals, groups, organizations, and communities. 
  • Inclusion –Full, meaningful, and authentic participation of, and investment in, every individual in a group, organization, or society.

Because diversity, equity, and inclusion are broad, it is important to be intentional about our purpose and efforts. When Deputy County Manager, Monica Smith-Callahan first joined our organization, she introduced three focus areas for the organization that I will be carrying forward in my role: awareness, acknowledgment, and action

One of the first priorities for this role is to increase awareness about what the County is doing to promote a diverse, equitable, inclusive workplace for all. My role will also look for opportunities where we can grow to remain a model employer for all. Recently, I embarked on a diverse Listening Tour to hear from county leaders about their current DEI efforts, share best practices, and establish partnerships to achieve an inclusive workforce. The Listening Tour has been very instrumental in helping me to better understand the critical, unique needs of our County departments, build trust, and identify a long-term DEI strategy for the organization. 

Inclusion and equity efforts should not sit with one person, so it is important to invite the voices and perspectives of our workforce to ensure that everyone feels valued and heard. Last month, I partnered with the Director of Social Services, Ty Parr, to host seven virtual well-being focus groups for County employees to assess their needs and invite their feedback on how we should grow and improve to be more equitable and inclusive. The partnership with Ty Parr has been instrumental in creating a positive experience for employees. We have received positive feedback from several employees, some stating that they felt the focus groups were a safe space to voice their concerns and express themselves. 

Acknowledgment and action are also key to building lasting change in any organization and to building an inclusive workforce. The civil unrest and violence across our nation have created an opportunity for the County to pause and be intentional about how we can learn from each other and grow together. The County is being intentional by acknowledging and seeking to understand the systemic issues that are impacting our colleagues and how they show up every day. Race is one example, but it is also critical that we are intentional about focusing on other elements of diversity, equity, and inclusion such as our age, cultural identities, gender identity, and self-expression just to name a few. Examples of ways that my role is currently partnering with the County to acknowledge and act include:

  • Establishing a DEI Resources Pageon the Organizational Learning and Talent Development (OLTD) Learning Hub that houses videos, podcasts, articles, and books to support employees and supervisors.
  • Collaborating with OLTD and Public Relations to offer virtual classes and videos on DEI topics as a foundation to support employees and supervisors in having organizational conversations on race and inclusion. 
    • Class offerings and videos from FY20-21 are located on OLTD’s Learning Opportunitiespage, OLTD YouTube Channel, and the DEI resources page. 
  • Partnering with County leaders to focus on equity, skill-building, and development for employees around inclusion.

As this role continues to evolve, we will continue to look for opportunities to be strategic and intentional around diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are doing this by looking at ways to engage our middle and senior leadership around these topics, identifying metrics to help us measure our progress and effectiveness as an organization, and develop an organizational DEI strategy to position the County for success in advancing DEI initiatives, services, and inclusive practices.

Building upon Henrico’s strong foundation and collaborative spirit, I believe that this role can successfully partner with the organization to serve as a resource and consultant to continue to impact positive change in our organization. This is a defining moment for our County and nation. As a guiding force, I am committed to executing the County Manager’s charge to “tread uncertain waters and blaze new trails” while honoring Henrico’s heart and service for others.

*Note: As of December 2023, if you have questions or feedback regarding DEI and the County, please contact the DEI team at [email protected]

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April is National Cancer Control Month

As of 1983, the month of April is dedicated to raising awareness for cancer prevention and treatment throughout the United States. Since then, cancer related death tolls have steadily declined due to better education and heightened awareness of how to prevent certain types of cancer, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of cancer, and how to seek proper treatment. Even with all the knowledge available, it is vital to get regular preventative screenings. Screenings are one of the most effective ways to detect precancerous cells and provide early treatment for cancers such as skin, breast, cervical, colon, testicular, prostate, and rectal. 

Vaccinations are also available to help prevent and treat certain types of cancers. Cancer prevention vaccinations work to target certain viruses, like the human papillomavirus (HPV) or the Hepatitis B virus (HBV), that can increase a person’s risk of developing certain cancers. Cancer treatment vaccines try to get the immune system to mount an attack against cancer cells in the body. These are used in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer and advanced melanoma skin cancer.1

In conjunction with medical prevention, the most effective way to prevent some types of cancer involves adopting these simple lifestyle habits:

  • Choosing not to use tobacco products.
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation.
  • Eating a healthy diet rich in plant-based foods that are high in fiber.
  • Being physically active every day for at least 30 minutes.
  • Avoiding exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

Although cancer is one of the leading causes of death for all Americans, it is also the most preventable. Protecting your body and utilizing the available resources can help prevent a future cancer diagnosis. Become your own personal cancer prevention advocate by checking to see if you are due for a cancer screening by visiting the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Screening Guidelines by Age webpage.

1 Vaccinations are also available to help treat and prevent certain types of cancers

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Earth Day and Energy Fair

Henrico County’s Spring Earth Day and Energy Fair will be held Saturday April 24 at Deep Run Park, Armour House at Meadowview Park, and Virginia Randolph Academy.  Visit any or all three locations between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM for fun, safe, outdoor activities and environmental education.  This event is co-hosted by Henrico Energy Management, Henrico Recreation & Parks, Keep Henrico Beautiful, and Henrico County Public Libraries.

All three locations will feature environmental information and resources, fun outdoor activities, and goodie bags.  Each attendee can take home a reusable insulated lunch bag full of information and gifts including care kits, activity sheets, a reusable water bottle, “Don’t Trash Virginia” sticker and magnet, and wildflower seed bracelets (while supplies last). 

At Deep Run Park, contribute to a community art project and see a variety of electric vehicles on display courtesy of Drive Electric RVA. Learn about tools and resources Henrico Libraries offers for checkout that can help you save energy at home, such as portable watt meters and thermal imaging cameras.

Virginia Randolph Academy and Museum marks the site of the first Arbor Day celebration in Virginia.  The Academy at Virginia Randolph will be showcasing their Career and Technical Education programs including the Horticulture program.  Visit the museum to learn all about Miss Randolph’s legacy and the historic trees located on the campus.

See spring in bloom at the gardens of the historic Armour House and visit with the Virginia Naturalists to learn about native vs. invasive plant species.  An expert in home energy and solar from non-profit Viridiant will be on hand to answer your questions about whether solar is right for you.

Soles4Souls will be collecting new or used shoes for donation to those in need.  Tech for Troops will be collecting used electronics, such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and flat screen monitors in any condition, for refurbishment and donation to veterans. You can bring donations to the Deep Run Park location, or to Deep Run or Eastern Henrico Recreation Centers the week prior to the fair starting Monday April 19.   

The Earth Day and Energy Fair is free and open to the public and will be held rain or shine.  If you have any questions, contact the Henrico County Energy Manager Carrie Webster at 501-5763 or [email protected].

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