Roszena Haskins, who has been director of Equity Advancement for West Hartford Public Schools, will now lead the efforts for the town as well.
By Ronni Newton
Town Manager Rick Ledwith and Interim Superintendent of Schools Andy Morrow announced Tuesday that effective immediately Roszena Haskins has been promoted to a new position, and as executive director of Equity Advancement will manage the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion for both the school district and the town as a whole.
“I’m excited to broaden the spectrum of engagement, to stretch my arms,” Haskins said in a phone interview.
“West Hartford Public Schools has often been characterized as a ‘destination district,” Haskins said. “With the schools’ relentless commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, I’m fortunate to serve as equity broker.”
Now she’s looking forward to expanding that role across all aspects of the municipality, to work with all local leaders to increase their awareness, expand dispositions, and actively eliminate boundaries. She cited the town’s hiring and contracting policies as an example of an initial area of focus.
“It’s critical for all of us to view diversity as a source of strength and power,” Haskins said.
West Hartford has a stellar reputation as a place where people can live, work, play, and retire, and Haskins said her role will be to ensure that all have access to that. “It can’t be elusive,” she said. “It’s important for us to really dig deeper in creating an environment and settings where all feel included.”
A new position was approved by the Town Council last year, and the town initially was looking to hire a separate director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but there is so much synergy to be gained by combining the role, particularly under the leadership of someone who has a successful track record.
Haskins, who in 2021 was honored statewide with the George Coleman Excellence in Equity Award, has served as director of Equity Advancement, leading the West Hartford Public Schools’ Office of Equity Advancement for the last six years. She worked closely with the Board of Education as it crafted Educational Equity Policy 1800, which was adopted in 2021.
She was previously principal of Sedgwick Middle School and an assistant principal at Conard High School. She was honored with the Bridge Family Center’s “Build No Fences” award in 2011, for her work with students and families.
Haskins also established the district’s Equity and Diversity Council – a faculty and staff advisory committee which promotes equity, advances diversity, and fosters inclusiveness across all of the district’s programs and services, as well as “One Community for Equity” – a collaborative partnership with parent-led organizations and community stakeholder groups sharing common goals and interests leading to more equitable schools and more equitable community.
“There’s so much of what we’ve done in our schools that will translate into the town side,” Haskins said. It’s a big job, and will take time, she said, adding that she is very glad that the town is willing to make the investment and commitment to a culture of diversity and inclusion within town operations, as well as on boards and commissions.
Scott Ratchford, who reports to Haskins managing Equity Advancement and Family Engagement for the schools, will continue in that role.
Town Manager Rick Ledwith said an equity coordinator, who will report to Haskins, will be hired on the town side.
Ledwith, who worked closely with Haskins in his former role as executive director of Human Resources for the town and school district, said he is thrilled to have her leading this critical work on a broader level.
“Well known throughout the state and region for her equity work, Roszena has the experience and passion to help us identify best practices and to remove barriers so that we can create a more inclusive and welcoming town for our employees, residents and business community,” Ledwith said.
Mayor Shari Cantor, speaking on behalf of the Town Council, said she is pleased that Haskins will be taking on this important and vital role. “Her DEI experience will bring awareness and sensitivity to the service we provide to our community. She will be a great addition to our town’s management team,” Cantor said in a statement.
“Dr. Haskins has been the leader of West Hartford Public Schools’ equity and diversity efforts over the last several years and I know she will be equally instrumental in extending this work to the town in this newly formed combined role,” Morrow said in a statement.
“It has been rewarding to lead and witness equity-driven change in West Hartford Public Schools over the past six years,” Haskins said, and she is thrilled to be able to work collaboratively with a broader stakeholder group to truly work toward municipal equity.
“I feel there is so much to love about West Hartford,” Haskins said. “With the schools and the town working more intentionally together,” she said, really working and not just throwing ideas about how to advance equity against a wall, it is her great hope that West Hartford will be an even better place to be educated, to live, work, play, and retire.
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