City of Gastonia Names New Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator

Cherie Jzar

Cherie Jzar, AICP, has been named Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator for the City of Gastonia. Jzar is a professional certified city planner with more than 18 years of experience in community planning, outreach and engagement, public relations, neighborhood development, and program management.

“We are excited to welcome Cherie Jzar to the City Manager’s Office to lead our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative,” said City Manager Michael Peoples. “Her many years of experience and solid background in municipal government and community engagement will serve the City and our community as a whole very well.”

In 2018, City management began working with the City Council to develop a DEI initiative focused on fairness and inclusion for the entire community that it serves. The strategy is to build a culture of understanding that embraces the differences, needs, and struggles of individuals and groups so that the City can better serve its citizens. And so that employees can receive the training they need to gain better insight into the complexities associated with its DEI initiative.

Prior to joining the City of Gastonia, Jzar worked for the City of Concord in the City Manager’s Office as Community Outreach Coordinator, primarily responsible for the management of its Neighborhood Program “Partnership for Stronger Neighborhoods,” an innovative citizen outreach, engagement, and public affairs program. She also worked in the Planning Department for the City of Gastonia from 2006 to 2012, where she assisted with Gastonia’s All-America City designation and development of its Comprehensive Plan.

In her new role, she will lead the City of Gastonia’s work to instill diversity, equity, and inclusion as essential parts of policy-making and in the delivery of City services. In addition, she will advise the City’s leadership, mayor, and city council about DEI and advance the understanding of equity and diversity issues across the workforce and community.

“I am looking forward to working with City leadership to develop a comprehensive plan that brings a diversity and inclusion lens to the provision of all City services and to work with citizens in Gastonia to hear and act on systems change,” Jzar said. “I am passionate about working to ensure that everyone has a voice and can contribute their best to the world. I believe that diversity is strength and great success is achieved when communities seek to work together to create equitable and inclusive experiences for everyone.”

Jzar earned a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Georgia Southern University and a Master of Science degree in urban studies from Savannah State University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and served as the Chair of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association (AAPA-NC) Membership & Diversity Committee, where she led the chapter’s diversity work to strengthen efforts to promote social and racial equity in the planning profession and to help raise awareness of strengthening policy that promotes social justice and equity.