Jonathan Bentley has been named Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) director for the City of Westerville. He most recently worked for the City of Youngstown, Ohio, as executive director and equal employment officer of its Human Relations Commission.
Bentley is the first to hold the DEI director position. It was formed by Westerville City Manager Monica Irelan when she began in her position last January. Bentley will start in Westerville on Monday, July 26.
In Youngstown, Bentley managed the city’s Human Relations Commission, mediating and/or resolving disputes and settlements on various issues of discrimination in the areas of education, fair employment and fair housing. He also created workforce programs to match individuals with available employment opportunities and managed other employment and career training needs in Youngstown and the surrounding region. Bentley has also conducted training with law enforcement agencies.
“Jonathan brings experience that will shape our inclusion efforts,” said Irelan. “He can help us fully form our plans as well as maximize the impact we can have on policy development and partnerships. Westerville has a tradition of attracting strong talent, and Jonathan is no exception.”
The DEI director position was created earlier this year to build upon Westerville City Council and administration’s work in forming legislation and programs to promote a safe, inclusive community. The posting of the position captured praise from other public officials.
In a May 17 public meeting, Ann Arbor (Michigan) councilmember Linh Song said she has been researching the role of “DEI officers” in other communities such as Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“I want to do a shoutout to Westerville, Ohio — a population of 40,000 — and how they have a job description up for their DEI director,” she said. “For folks who are unfamiliar with this and how it differs from internal HR work, diversity, equity and inclusion for Westerville, Ohio, looks like a way to promote an environment of gender, generational, racial, religious and ethnic diversity to position them as a leading community of inclusion in central Ohio.”
Bentley says Irelan’s language that the DEI director will “bridge the gap between internal programs and external efforts, building alliances with organizations confronting racism” was resolute, bold and attention-getting.
“It was very clear to me that Westerville is serious about internal and external development to be a gold standard community in diversity, inclusion and equity,” said Bentley. “We have to define the role of local government in that objective and invite partners to come along with us. Westerville’s work is already known, so we really are setting the pace for the communities within the state of Ohio, and obviously beyond as evidenced by comments in Ann Arbor.”
Bentley holds a Masters of Science in Higher Education from Youngstown University. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology.
Bentley and his family, including wife, Selena, and young children, relocated to Central Ohio in July.
The public is invited to meet Bentley at the Westerville City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 7, which is council’s first meeting after summer recess. For more information on the City of Westerville City Manager’s Office, visit www.westerville.org/cmo.