Andover DIVERSE (Diversity, Inclusion, Values, Respect, Support and Education) is a Division focused on advancing community-driven initiatives and engagement with the goal of building a more inclusive Andover.
The first order of business in this effort was to invest in a Diversity Audit; a process designed to gain an appreciation of the experiences of the Andover community where race, racism, equity, justice and inclusion are concerned.
To that end, the Town engaged the services of Consultant Richard Pinderhughes of Visions, Inc. and concurrently populated a DIVERSE Working Group of interested community volunteers whom, together, would work to steer this data gathering effort. To date this team has:
- Crafted and launched a community-wide survey
- Designed and launched a series of 24 community focus groups to engage in conversation about racism, equity, justice and inclusion with those wishing to voice their experiences
- Crafted a proposed structure and mission for a permanent Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion which was successfully enabled by Andover’s Select Board
- Interview and appoint members of the Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Receive the final report on Andover’s Diversity Audit
- Chart a course forward to make actionable progress on building a more diverse and inclusive community
- Assign/adequately resource the Andover DIVERSE Division with the staff support required to ensure sustainable forward momentum
Andover DIVERSE and the Town of Andover send our deepest condolences to the victims of the racially-motivated shooting targeting Black people in Buffalo, New York. This horrific rampage is in the long line of distinctly American mass shootings that combine racism and gun violence. This is a deepening crisis for which we must be prepared to make all the necessary sacrifices to peacefully end the scourge of hate.
Black Americans are often the leading targets for hate crimes in our country, but we also continue to witness increases in anti-Semitic attacks, as well as violence against the Latinx, Asian, Muslim, and LGBTQ+ communities. The frequency and intensity of this violence have been supercharged, in part, by social media, which provides a virtually unchecked platform for hate speech and the encouragement of violent actions.
In Andover, we continue to work together to combat racism and discrimination by supporting programs, initiatives, education, outreach, policies, and institutional change which contribute to an inclusive Andover. We also understand the importance of having courageous conversations about race, acceptance, and tolerance.
We encourage you to explore our work at Andover DIVERSE where we have resources for you to learn more about how to combat racism and discrimination.
RESOURCES TO CARE FOR OURSELVES & OTHERS
IN COMBATING WHITE SUPREMACY
Information & Guidance
- The Rise of Domestic Extremism in America (Washington Post)
- Imagining a World Without White Supremacy (Learning for Justice)
- White Supremacy Culture (Tema Okun)
Talking with Young Children
- The Horrific Mass Shooting in Buffalo: How to Talk with Young People (ADL)
- Talking to Young Children about Race & Racism (PBS)
- Reactions to Highly Stressful or Potentially Traumatic Events (Riverside Community Care)
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers (National Association for School Psychologists)
- How to Teach Kids about Taboo Topics (TED Talk)
For Allies to the Black Community
- Show Up: Guide to Bystander Intervention (Center for Urban Pedagogy)
- Why People of Color Need Spaces without White People (The Arrow)
- What White Colleagues Need to Understand (Learning for Justice)
Meet the Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Albert Pless Jr (He, Him, His), Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Town of Andover. Albert has over 25 years of experience working in community-based programs in the Greater Boston area. Previously, he directed nationally recognized programs for Black and Latino men at both the Boston Public Health Commission, and Cambridge Public Health Department. Albert is on numerous boards and committees including the Men’s Health, and Black Health Care Workers Caucuses of the American Public Health Association (APHA). He has committed his entire professional career to address health and racial inequities. Albert received his Master of Science degree from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, NH. We’re fortunate to have Albert on the team!
At Large Members:
George Nugent (He, Him, His) is Marketing Manager and Vice President at Enterprise Bank headquartered in Lowell, MA. George has an extensive professional background in fundraising, marketing and communications work. He has a longstanding commitment to nonprofit organizations in the Merrimack Valley. George has served on the boards of Jericho Road and the Nonprofit Alliance of Greater Lowell is currently a board member for the Center for Hope and Healing and a trustee for the Towle Fund for the Town of Andover. George is an advocate for LGBTQ and equity initiatives, is involved with diversity and inclusion efforts and a member of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Consortium - Lowell.
Kavita Goyal, Co-Chair has been a resident of Andover since 2012, and has worked in Andover for the past 10 years. She is a small business owner with a law firm practice in the Ballardvale Mill building. At the firm, she leads the employment practice, representing small-to-mid sized businesses, as well as individuals, in civil litigation, advice and counseling. She focuses on anti-discrimination and equal employment practices, and spends a portion of her time counseling medical and dental entities with their ongoing business needs. Kavita has two daughters and loves to spend time with them skiing, dancing and walking on the beach! Kavita serves as an At-Large Member of the Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Sandis Wright (He, Him, His) has held various leadership and volunteer positions throughout his career. In his current role as Director, Information Management, for the Federal Employee Program with Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), he focuses on data strategy and data governance. He’s held numerous volunteer roles in both corporate settings and in local communities and is currently a member of the BCBSA diversity council and co-chairs the PRIDE (LGBTQ) Associate Resource Group. He’s also on the board of a Better Chance of Andover, the Bancroft Parent Teacher Organization and Doherty Parent Advisory Council. These volunteer roles include organizing programs and events while creating an inclusive community and culture. Sandis has resided in Andover since 2011. He is married to his husband of 29 years and has 2 daughters, age 9 and 11.
Shishan Wang, Clerk is a senior research scientist in Microbiology and Biochemistry. He has been living in Andover with his family since 2007. Before moving to Andover, Shishan earned both BS and MS in Microbiology from China and Ph.D in Food Science at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Shishan serves as a member of Andover High School Improvement Council. He also is volunteering for several organizations.
Lisa Cascio (She, Her) C0-Chair joined Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) in October 2013 as its Public Relations Manager and currently serves as Director of Partner Engagement. Lisa also serves as NEEP’s co-lead for all diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice work.
Lisa has a B.A. in English from The College of the Holy Cross and an M.A. in Administrative Studies from Boston College. She recently received a certificate in nonprofit management and leadership from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice and Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University.
Peyton Levental,17, is a Junior at Andover High School. Peyton enjoys serving her community and problem solving. She is the President of her Church’s Youth Group and runs track and plays soccer. She says listening is one of her best assets and one she hopes can help the community. “It’s tough to find a short term solution to racial inequality but when we all listen to each other and everyone's ideas while understanding what is driving the issues, then that's where I believe we can start to make positive changes to our community and improve things in the short term while solving the overall issues over time.”
Olivia Lu-Alba (She/Her), AHS class of 2022, is an honor roll student participating in AVID. Her dedication to community service is unwavering. She is the current President of Amigos Unidos, a cultural awareness and community service club. Olivia is proud of her Afro-Latina, Asian heritage and fully embraces her Dominican and Vietnamese cultures. Being race-conscious enables her to intimately advocate for social justice and equality.
Reverend Dana Allen Walsh is a pastor, teacher and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She is the first female Senior Pastor of South Church in Andover in their 300 year history. Prior to her call to South Church in 2014, Dana served for eight years as Minister of Hancock United Church of Christ on the historic battle green of Lexington. She holds a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from the University of Mary Washington. She’s currently enrolled in a Executive Leadership program with Princeton Theological Seminary. Dana resides in Andover along with her husband, Sean and two children: Leighton & Emerson
Private School Representative:
Andover Police Department Representative:
Lieutenant Frank Fitzpatrick began his law enforcement career in Andover in 2006 after graduating from the Boston Police Academy. When asked why he chose to serve as the APD’s Liaison, Lt. Fitzpatrick said: “I chose to serve the Commission because this is a very important and meaningful topic… I chose to serve to help non-law enforcement better understand what we do and how we are trained. I believe this insight will help to assure our residents and those who work and travel through Andover that we are a professional police department with a focus on treating everyone with respect and dignity. Lieutenant Fitzpatrick holds a BA degree in Political Science from Merrimack College and a MS degree in Criminal Justice from Anna Maria College. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command and has completed the FBI LEEDA’s Leadership School Trilogy.
At-Large Alternate Members:
Rajiv Chopra has lived in Andover since 2002 with his wife and two sons, who both thrived in the APS system. Raj is a scientist focused on the discovery and design of new molecular therapies and has worked for major Pharmaceutical companies on numerous drug discovery projects before establishing his own consulting company. He enjoys growing vegetables and sports, especially soccer, and is passionate about celebrating diversity in all its forms.
Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Andover’s Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will work to combat the realities of racism and intolerance in Andover by supporting programs, initiatives, education, outreach, policies, and institutional change which contribute to an inclusive Andover; a community which embraces tolerance, inclusiveness and respect for all.
Andover’s Select Board unanimously approved the creation of a permanent Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion whose charge is to combat the realities of racism and intolerance in Andover by supporting programs, initiatives, education, outreach policies and institutional change which contribute to an inclusive Andover; a community which embraces tolerance, inclusiveness and respect for all.
The following individuals were appointed by the Select Board in March, 2021 to serve on the Commission on DEI:
Members At Large
Rev. Dana Allen Walsh
Private School Representative
Lt. Frank Fitzpatrick
At Large Alternative Members
Select Board Representative
School Committee Representative
Albert Pless, Director, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion
Jemma Lambert, Director, Community Services
Meetings of the Commission will be held virtually until such time in-person meetings are permitted. All meetings of the Commission will be re-broadcast on AndoverTV.
DEI Director Albert Pless
meets with seniors at the Robb Center March 9, 2022
Please mark your calendar for this upcoming event!
Meet Andover’s New Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.