Town Braves Difficult Conversations

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The Town of Suffield tackles the topics of anti-racism, gender equality, access and ability, and religious and cultural expression in a speaker series, which kicked off on February 6. The virtual format features both scholars and authors presenting via talks, panels and discussions. A moderated town-hall style forum serves as the culminating event and includes the speakers as panelists addressing feedback from the series (date pending). Suffield First Selectwoman Melissa M. Mack said, “This series is long overdue, and I’m optimistic about the important conversations it will foster that will lead to better understanding and enrichment in our community.” Open to the public and free of charge, anyone interested can sign up at

The series marks a continuation of efforts initiated by Mack and outlined in a letter dated July 9, 2020 regarding inclusivity in Suffield which stated, “We all agree that our tight-knit town embodies a wonderful sense of compassion and community . . . [but] We can all do better.” On October 7, 2020, the Board of Selectmen followed with a unanimously approved statement: “The Town of Suffield is committed to fair and respectful treatment of all people, enhancement and promotion of inclusivity and diversity, and elimination of racism, discrimination and bias.” Suffield Youth Services Director Kate Powers and Kent Memorial Library Director Garrett Pinder spearheaded the event.

There were three speakers in February.  The remaining four are:

March 6 at 1 p.m.: Dr. Yadilette Rivera-Colón, professor, board member of Girls Inc.

Topic: Against All Odds, exploring why there are so few girls and women in STEM and what we can do to help others see careers for themselves in STEM.

March 11 at 7 pm: Janine Fondon, professor, president and CEO of UnityFirst, board member of Girls Inc.

Topic: Six Degrees of Separation, helping us understand and feel more comfortable having difficult conversations with our family and friends, and how to build back bridges during such a divisive time.

March 25 at 7 p.m.: Mike Curato, award-winning author and artist of Flamer and Crystal Maldonado, debut young adult author of Fat Chance, Charlie Vega

Topic: Intersecting Identities, an author panel discussing their newest books and discussing how different parts of who we are all add up to one incredible person.

April 6 at 7 p.m.: Debby Irving, author of Waking Up White

Topic: I’m a Good Person! Isn’t That Enough? Helping us explore why our town should care about racism, how to be an ally, an anti-racist, and how to talk to kids about racism.

For additional questions, contact Kate Powers (860) 668-3329 or Garrett Pinder (860) 668-3896.

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