Ojai Mayor Stix 1 of 3 featured speakers at OUSD 'Empowering Women' program Monday, March 22


 03 20 Women English203 20 Women spanish2Ojai Mayor Betsy Stix was one of three featured speakers at an Ojai Unified School District online panel discussion called “Empowering Women Past, Present and Future!” held online March 22.

Suz Montgomery, chair of the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council, and Senerey de los Santos, reporter and weekend sports anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3, were also featured panel participants.

The panel discussion is the third in a series of OUSD’s community workshops  on diversity, equity and inclusion, called "Engage to Impact — A Place at the Table."


­ De los Santos has been a reporter for NewsChannel 3 for eight years, covering Ventura County news stories.

Montgomery is a passionate advocate for seniors to stay engaged in living. She was appointed as a lobbyist of the VC AARP, and established the nonprofit Extended Learning Academy. She created ENCORE, a free senior computer training program that gives seniors skills for employment. She makes visits to care homes and hospitals, runs errands for those in need, and much more.

— The first community workshop on Jan. 18 was focused on “cultural proficiency.” The workshops are organized by the “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion” branch of a school district advisory group formed in November 2019 called the Guiding Coalition.


— The second community workshop on Feb. 24 featured popular speaker James Joyce III, founder of "Coffee With a Black Guy."

The workships are hosted by OUSD, which received a $20,000 grant last year as part of the state education September 2020 “End Hate” initiative to combat bias, bigotry and racism.

View news releases about the program at and and Dec. 4, 2020 OVN article.

While there are many definitions of “cultural proficiency,” they boil down to awareness of cultural influences on how we think and act.

 The outlined goals for the first “Engage to Impact: A Place at the Table” meeting on Jan. 18 were to:

"— Develop a common language and framework to increase our equity literacy skills.

"— Share strategies for effectively engaging challenging conversations across difference.

"— Clarify the role we all play in creating an inclusive and equitable school community where all students can blossom to their full potential."

At that meeting, Matthew Bolano, director of equity and inclusion at The Thacher School in Ojai, provided a slide show on diversity, equity and inclusion, with the following definitions:

Diversity refers to:

“• Representation and all the ways we differ.

“• In a school community context, we are referring to social identity representation along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, age (dis)abilities, spiritual/religion, political beliefs and more.

“— Inclusion occurs when all community members are empowered, encouraged and free to bring their whole authentic selves ’to the table,' in order to create a community where all members can thrive and blossom to their full potential through a shared value of the richness of diverse ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives.

“— Equity involves a redistribution of resources and access and, according to the National Equity Project, ‘is the state that would be achieved if how one fares was no longer predictable by any social, cultural or economic factor.’”

Bolano's slide show can be downloaded from:

Another link provided at the Jan. 18 meeting is to a New York Times article on Smith College Professor Loretta J. Ross, who taught a popular class about combating cancel culture:

Members of the Guiding Coalition in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion group are:

Lori Hamor, Jessica Mendiola, Catherine McKinnis, Bronwen Cull-Michaels, Kara Hooper, Alex Mejia-Holdsworth, Delores Johnson, Lisa Griffiths, Sheri Usher, OUSD Trustee Jane Weil, Shannon Hull, Kelly Stone.

To view the introduction to the Jan. 18 Engage to Impact: Place at the Table meeting, visit:

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