On June 6th, the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships invited the Connecticut Commission on Equity and Opportunity (CEO) to campus for a Town Hall Meeting. Created through SSPA 16-3 – the CEO has been mandated to focus its efforts on the quality of life for members of the African-American, Asian Pacific American and the Latino and Puerto Rican populations in the state of Connecticut. The CEO uses a cross-cultural lens to inform public policy and involve traditionally underserved populations in the legislative process to unite minority communities in the policy arena. Seven of the state’s twenty-four appointed commissioners – along with commission’s full-time staff – were in attendance. The CEO has recently committed to hosting town hall meetings, “to get know the individuals that we are statutorily required to represent,” explained commission’s executive director, Subira Gordon.
The evening opened with Representative Matt Lesser highlighting the legislative work that he has worked on in collaboration with the CEO. Chairman Tan and Vice Chairs Canterbury, O’Neill, and Li gave an overview of the CEO, its history and current policy focus areas which include; the opioid crisis, food insecurity, and civic engagement in underrepresented groups.
Community residents and leaders from across Middletown were in attendance to learn more about the CEO and to share with the commission information about their work and concerns. Middletown Racial Justice Coalition Director/Community Organizer, Precious Price, was in attendance and spoke about the role that the Coalition plays in the Middletown community. Jeff Hush spoke about the new Middletown Green Community Center, while members of the NAACP and others expressed interests in youth civic engagement and encouraging underrepresented minorities to run for public office.
This meeting was just a start for the CEO – as they intend to host similar meetings across the state. “It is great to hear from community members about the issues facing them,” Gordon said. “We will take those recommendations back to the capital and use them to make positive changes.” The night had a hopeful and approachable tone; many of the issues discussed are complicated, but can be nonetheless addressed by the diverse group of talented people – committed to working towards equity and opportunity – represented there. Gordon, seemed pleased with the discussion and turn-out. “I really enjoyed Wesleyan University and the Middletown residents. I look forward to further collaboration in the future.”