EXTON, PA — The Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) is pledging organizational change as it assembles 17 thought leaders from the region who are committed to bringing diversity, equity and inclusion to the forefront. CCEDC will collaborate with its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force to create more relevant and accessible policies regarding internal and external organizational processes and services.
“We must reflect diversity, equity and inclusion in our own organization in order to serve economic development across Chester County,” says Gary Smith, CCEDC President and CEO. “We have much work to do, and we are intent on turning ideas and ideals into action.”
Says Marybeth DiVincenzo, who leads the task force as CCEDC’s Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, “It is critical that we develop and align our diversity, equity and inclusion goals and objectives with our mission, vision and strategic plans. By doing so, we will not only have a positive impact on our organization’s culture; we’re likely to see enhanced performance metrics as well. We understand that this is an evolving process for us, but one that will ultimately create a stronger culture that fulfills our mission to serve all businesses and communities in Chester County.”
Formulation of the CCEDC’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force came after CCEDC’s Executive Committee voiced strong support for the initiative last winter. CCEDC spent the ensuing months assembling task force members who represent a variety of backgrounds, industries and services including for public, private and nonprofit entities. The task force’s first meeting was September 16th in a facilitated, virtual meeting room that included:
- Vanessa Briggs
President and CEO, Brandywine Health Foundation; CCEDC Board Member
- Phil Eastman
Manager of Economic Development, PECO; CCEDC Board Member
- Annette Favorite
Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, West Pharmaceutical Services; CCEDC Board Member
- Karen Kozachyn
Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development, Delaware County Community College
- Michelle Legaspi Sanchez
Executive Director, Chester County Fund for Women and Girls
- James Logan
City Manager, City of Coatesville
- Marian Moskowitz
Chair, Chester County Commissioners; CCEDC Board Chair
- Komeil Nasrollahi
International Business & Investment Manager, CCEDC Global Business Advisory Board
- Greg Reaves
Principal, Mosaic Development Partners; CCEDC Board Member
- Danielle Ryan
Attorney, Fox Rothschild LLP; Executive Committee Member, Independence Business Alliance
- Nan Sato
Employment Law Attorney, Field-R Law Offices, CCEDC Global Business Advisory Board
- Bill Stedman
Trion Group; CCEDC Human Resources Committee Chair
- James Turner
Former Business Development Director of Marketing, Chester Regional Water Authority; CCEDC Board Member
- Lisa Van Ess
Vice President of People & Culture, Magic Hat Consulting, ITAG Co-Chair
- Marrea Walker-Smith
Project Consultant, STEM Innovation Initiatives, CCEDC
- Dwayne Walton
Executive Director, Parkesburg POINT
- Levi Wingard
Education Executive, Former Superintendent of Downingtown Area School District
Over the years, CCEDC’s focus on a diversified workforce has developed through its industry partnerships in information technology, health care, energy, agriculture and manufacturing. CCEDC’s Innovative Technology Action Group (ITAG) presents the annual Girls Exploring Tomorrow’s Technology conference, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, as well as TECH360, the Philly burbs’ premier business technology conference featuring a lineup of speakers inspired in part by views expressed in the ITAG Survey on Diversity and Inclusion.
ITAG has a DE&I Committee, as does CCEDC’s health care industry partnership called Health Care Connect. Industry-wide initiatives include CCEDC’s panels on “Creating & Cultivating an Inclusive Workplace.” Hosted most recently at Wawa’s Headquarters in 2019, the 2020 panel was postponed due to COVID-19 with plans to resume in 2021. In addition, closing the generational gap is the focus of CCEDC’s ConNext. Launched last fall, ConNext aims to connect the region’s next generation of leaders under age 40 with business opportunities in Chester County.
Most recently, CCEDC’s public statement on racial discrimination and inequality in the workplace and community was released in June.
Says DE&I Task Force Member Lisa Van Ess, Vice President of People & Culture at Magic Hat Consulting, “There will never be a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Real equity comes from the investment in knowing what’s needed, trying new strategies, asking questions and having the right moral compass to make it happen. Sometimes systematically; sometimes one person at a time.”
According to DE&I Task Force Member Greg Reaves, Principal at Mosaic Development Partners, “Real equity means recognizing that not all people are in the same place, and giving them the opportunity to be excellent, especially for communities that have been disparately impacted by racism, discrimination and injustice. This is about reevaluating the systems that stop people from being able to realize their full value.”
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