The Ad Hoc Committee on Advisory Boards, Commissions and Committees has recommended the county create a Commission on Women and Girls, a suggestion that drew support from the public during a recent Board of Supervisors meeting.
Although the recommendations of the three-member committee on committees were deferred to a future board meeting, several speakers turned up to encourage supervisors to embrace the idea of the new commission.
“In Loudoun, our volunteers see a broader America,” said Jane Lyons, a board member of Loudoun nonprofit Women Giving Back. “This county is diverse, with citizens and residents that include women and girls from all over the world. It’s important that our women and girls have the benefit of laws and protection that may not reside in their homes.”
Shelley Tamres of Sterling said that this election year has thrown women’s issues into high relief. She said President Barack Obama’s election brought out latent racism in the country, and that Hillary Clinton’s candidacy has now brought out latent misogyny.
“Only by taking action can we hope to address our problems,” Tamres said.
The recommendation also garnered public support at the meeting from Katrina Smith, a Simpson Middle School assistant principal and president of the Loudoun County Alumnae Chapter of the charitable Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; entrepreneur and member of the Loudoun chapter of Jack and Jill of America Fatima Moody; and One Sparrow Foundation founder Solitaire Carroll.
“It is critical, not only to women and girls of Loudoun County, but to the men and boys of our county,” Moody said.
According to the committee on committees’ recommendation, the commission would “serve as a resource center, facilitator, collaborator and partner for planning and action on issues impacting women and girls.” The commission would do this through public education, coordinating research groups and taskforces on specific issues, and developing recommendations on policies and programs that impact women and girls.
The commission would be sponsored and advised by Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large). The panel would have 15 members, appointed by the Board of Supervisors.
The committee on committees recommended creating the commission 2-1. Randall and Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) voted in favor; Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) voted against.
The committee on committees was one of the first initiatives by the newly elected board, created to look at trimming down the county’s more than 50 citizen advisory boards, some of which have become defunct. In addition to recommending the Commission on Women and Girls, the committee recommended dissolving three committees, expanding the Art Advisory Committee, and adding a nondiscriminatory statement to committee advertisements and applications. It also recommended county staffers prepare updated statements of direction for individual committees as needed.