Female Representation Is Strong In Nantucket Town Government

Abby De Molina •

To the editor: At the May 22 Select Board meeting there was something raised about having female representation on the Planning Board. I just wanted to comment as the current female voice on the Planning Board but also from my experience with ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in my full-time job.

Firstly, I would like to recognize all the wonderful and talented women who work in PLUS (the Planning & Land Use Services department). From the female director, Leslie, to the other incredible team members including Megan, Holly, Jackie, Nicki, Catherine, Sara, Rositsa, Fiona, and Lauren - 43 percent of the PLUS department is women. As my fellow board members are well aware, these women are not only a vital part of our meetings but also the day to day on keeping the department and planning running, from Leslie managing the department, to Holly being our expert on preservation planning, to Lauren coordinating and educating on all the new stretch code requirements. I just wanted to recognize and thank them for all they do.

Now from an ESG perspective - focusing on the S - the most important part is about access. It means that women and those who have been traditionally underrepresented have the same access to jobs and roles as others. I can say from my experience with the Planning Board this has always been the case. I have been welcomed by the men and women of the board and PLUS, who have taken the time to educate me and answer my questions, ensuring I felt informed and understood the important context with the situations we face. I have also personally taken the time to educate myself on many things and have learned a lot.

Looking at our town as a whole, I can also say that women do have access to roles, including those on the Planning Board. Denice is the chair of the Finance Committee, Susan is the chair of the ZBA, Meri is the vice chair of the Board of Health, Rita is vice chair of the NHC and Brooke is our second female chair in a row of the Select Board. Our Town Manager Libby, Town Moderator Sarah, Land Bank Director Jesse, Superintendent Beth, NHS Principal Mandy, and new Police Chief Jody are all female as well. I think this is something to celebrate; the fact we have so many impressive women working in so many areas throughout Nantucket. Our representation is something many towns in the commonwealth can only dream about.

The most important thing about championing women's rights and representation is again, access. We still want to ensure the most qualified person is put in place for any position, and we are no exception. We want to hire the most qualified people and have women in the pool, but in many cases, there will still be men who are best for the role. We should not be choosing someone because they are a woman, we should choose them despite of it. I was encouraged to see another woman Liza apply for the open alternate role, along with another gentleman, so I see this as proof in action.

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts on this and I am honored to be your only female Planning Board representation...for now.

Abby De Molina
Alternate member on the Nantucket Planning Board

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