The program via ZOOM entitled ‘JEDI Resolutions: Not the Star Wars You May Be Thinking’, was presented on Tuesday night by the Montana League of Women Voters.

Speakers included Ashley Brittner Wells, National League of Cities and Towns JEDI coordinator for the city of Missoula, Dr. Selena Beaumont Hill, City Councilor Mirtha Becerra and County Commissioner Juanita Vero.

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Brittner Wells laid out the purpose of the acronym JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) and the programs in Missoula city and county.

“JEDI, which stands for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, is focused on achieving equity of outcomes,” said Brittner Wells. “So it's an expansion of a traditional view of thinking of diversity, equity and inclusion to incorporate justice and also to work to ensure that our institutions and our efforts are really reflecting the communities where we live and we work and beyond.”

Dr. Selena Beaumont Hill referenced her long time work with Native Americans, and that her work has expanded to help other students of color at the University of Montana.

“I've spent my career working with American Indian students and have always felt very adequate in that area,” said Dr. Beaumont Hill. “Now I'm working with a bigger population of students of color, and I'm doing the work to make sure that I am understanding their experiences and learning more about their cultures because that is an important part of this process.”

Missoula City Councilor Mirtha Becerra said the city has been working on inclusion issues, but the JEDI movement is helping to move the issue into discernable action.

“The city of Missoula has been working on JEDI related issues for many years now, but I believe the social movements and the events that took place nationwide in the summer of 2020 made us all look more intentionally at how we as a country and as a community are addressing the long standing issues of equity, diversity, inclusion and justice,” said Becerra.

County Commissioner Juanita Vero said the JEDI philosophy can affect many areas of the Missoula community.

“Structural and systemic barriers limit marginalized communities,” said Vero. “We know this from accessing resources such as high wages, credit housing, health care, education, public services, and that lack of opportunity compounds standing inequities, and then obviously contributes to unjust outcomes. So, Missoula County really wants to further dig in and identify and address these barriers. Because, when they're addressed all residents benefit when these barriers are removed.”

Get more details about the JEDI programs here.

See the JEDI ZOOM presentation here.

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