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March 11, 2022

Amid resignation controversy, Worcester diversity officer says she is leaving to have a greater impact elsewhere

Photo | Grant Welker Worcester City Hall

Stephanie Williams, the City of Worcester’s outgoing chief diversity officer whose resignation was announced on March 4, has released her own statement about her decision to leave the role.

“There seems to be a lot of discussion around my resignation as the chief diversity officer in the City of Worcester. I want to ensure that the narrative around this is my own,” she wrote in the statement released Thursday.

“My decision to resign was not based on one particular experience or person, rather a decision that my skills would be best put to use in an environment where I can have more of an impact,” Williams wrote.

Williams is the third chief diversity officer in Worcester to leave since the position was created in 2016. Upon the announcement of her resignation, Worcester’s NAACP unit responded in a letter raising concerns about the high turnover rate and officially pulling out of the planning for the city’s 300th anniversary celebration.

On Tuesday, the Worcester City Council discussed Williams’ resignation further, with some councilors saying it raised questions about the environment in City Hall. Social services organization Black Families Together also released a statement following the resignation calling for an equity audit of the situation.

In her statement, Williams said the work of a diversity officer goes beyond a 9-to-5 job and is more of a calling because it deals with human rights issues.

“Diversity, equity, inclusion focused positions have proven exhausting, particularly when organizations are not ready,” Williams wrote. “We are positioned to point out incongruence between organizational values and apparent contradictions that plague our practices, procedures, and policies. Many of the current structures and practices in place revealed a disconnect between organizational and institutional impact needed in order for this work to be successful.”

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