January 23, 2021

Mallory Herrmann
Staff Reporter

The city council has established the City of Lee’s Summit Commission for Diversity and Inclusion. Its 15 members will be meeting over the next 18 months to assess the current state of diversity and inclusion in Lee’s Summit – both actual and perceived – and draft a vision statement and five-year action plan that will be reviewed by the city council.

The commission’s vision statement and action plan are intended to help the city and Lee’s Summit community “fully realize the promise of equality provided by the principles espoused in our nation’s founding documents.” Their findings will also support the work of the city’s Human Relations Commission and their longer-term aims.

The initiative was first introduced by Mayor Bill Baird at his state of the city address in September 2019.Listen > Video

Since then, the council has discussed how to form the commission and what their specific goals should be at both legislative and work sessions.

Councilmembers had raised concerns about how broad the scope of the commission should be and about how to appoint members. The council agreed that only Lee’s Summit residents should be appointed to the commission and that they should equally represent all four council districts.

Baird said he was inspired to move forward with the commission in the second half of 2020 after George Floyd’s May 2020 death at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis and the protests that followed, hoping to get the city itself involved in broader community conversations about race.

But some councilmembers wondered whether the commission should also consider other facets of diversity and inclusion, such as sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or age.

The resolution establishing the commission includes the broader scope, stating that a diverse and inclusive community is welcome to all, “regardless of (including, but not limited to) race, sex, sexual identification or lack thereof, preference or orientation, familial status, disability, religion, age, color, national origin or ancestry.”

“We need help with these conversations,” Baird said at their Jan. 21 session.

The resolution was passed unanimously by the city council. Councilmember Diane Forte was absent.

The appointed members are all residents of Lee’s Summit and represent each of the city’s four council districts. They include Dale Beasley, Rachel Courtney, Allan Gray, Fred Grogan, Melanie Harding, Lorenzo Harrison, Barb Henson, Levi Holland, Sharon Ivy, Saadia Mahmood, Ben Martin, Claudia Meyer, Bryce Presley, Karen Schuler, and Susan Wilson.