City appoints diversity committee members following hiatus

Concord City Hall

Concord City Hall


Monitor staff

Published: 06-13-2024 5:14 PM

The 12 new appointees to Concord’s committee on diversity includes people with both personal and professional experience, from lawyers to case workers to teachers. They represent a broad swath of city residents, including New Americans of different ethnic backgrounds, faith groups, people with disabilities, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, seniors and students.

“I tried to cast a broad net, I listened to a lot of people and received a lot of suggestions,” said Mayor Byron Champlin. “I was looking for people with either lived experiences or with specific skill sets that I felt could contribute to the process and to the discussion — and people who were interested in working collaboratively and collegially towards addressing DEIJB issues in the city.”

Most city committee positions are appointed by the mayor or city manager. The new members of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice and Belonging committee were approved by City Council Monday, and will join Champlin and Councilors Ali Sekou and Jennifer Kretovic after a months-long hiatus.

Champlin named Ahni Malachi as chairperson, who is the executive director of the state’s Commission for Human Rights, which is responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws. Malachi also chaired Gov. Chris Sununu’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion.

The appointments come as city leaders get closer to choosing a contracted facilitator to guide its DEIJB work. The deadline for a request for proposals passed at the beginning of June. Over the next few months, the committee’s three councilors will make a hiring recommendation and the council will then vote on funding. The city’s ask targeted $25,000 for the first year.

“One of the things that I’ve learned over the last year is that is that this can be a very contentious issue,” Champlin said of the rationale behind bringing in a facilitator. “I think that it’s good to have a neutral party to facilitate the conversation so that the conversations can be constructive.”

Following requests from New American and refugee populations asking for more people of color on city boards and committees, the DEIJB committee was formed last spring, initially comprised of three council representatives. The group, including then-councilor Champlin, held listening sessions gathering resident insight to help make a plan for how the city should move forward.

After those listening sessions last May, the committee, led by then-mayor Jim Bouley, met twice. They discussed short-term goals, especially the appointment of a full standing committee, who should be on it, and how it should be organized.

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At what became the final meeting last August, Champlin and Bouley opposed a proposal from the other councilor, Zandra Rice Hawkins, and members of the public at the meeting who advocated that public members of the future DEIJB committee be offered a stipend that would make serving more accessible to people needing to take time off work, arrange childcare or other potential obstacles.

After the failure of that motion, which would have allocated a $50 per hour stipend, attendees accused the committee of upholding barriers for the voices that the city sought to represent.

Other than a meeting this March to finalize the call for bids from potential facilitators, the committee has not met since.

No date for the full committee’s first meeting has been set, according to Champlin, but the group will work with the advice of the facilitator to develop short- and long-term goals for the city’s effort to become a more welcoming and empowering place for all its residents.

The new appointees are listed below, and their resumes and letters of interest are attached to the online version of this story:

■Ahni Malachi, Chair

■Vijay Bhujel

■Moe Djabelarbi

■Amy Girouard-Crush

■Karen Juall

■Clement Kigugu

■Alison Murphy

■Zoey Murphy

■Rabbi Robin Nafshi

■Ghana Sharma

■Usha Shrestha

■Noemi Wierwille

■Sheila Zakr

Catherine McLaughlin can be contacted at