Celebrating Women’s History Month

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion Team

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we turn the spotlight on the remarkable women of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Champion Team. Led by Cherie Jzar, DEI Coordinator for the City of Gastonia, these trailblazers have not only championed the cause of equality and inclusivity within our organization but have also paved the way for meaningful change in the larger community, embodying the spirit of resilience and empowerment that Women’s History Month commemorates.

Here’s a photo from their most recent team meeting at Rankin Lake Park:

Photo’d from left to right (top row)

Cherie Jzar, DEI Coordinator

Synthia Kearney, Battalion Chief

Adriene Walker, Police Captain

(bottom row)

Gina Merrell, Budgets & Grants Administrator

Lindsay Davis, Human Resources Technician


Read more about why each of these women decided to become DEI champions below.

Cherie Jzar: “We serve City Management, City Departments, elected officials, and residents with the goal of advancing equity and inclusion and dismantle systemic inequities. We are committed to collaborating with community partners to facilitate a coordinated and innovative approach to this work. We look forward to working with you!”

Synthia Kearney: A Pivotal Moment That Influenced My Path

“Historically it is recognized that there has not been equal opportunities for everyone be it due to race, gender, religion, economics…etc.  Societal systems have been set up that compounded these problems and unconscious biases are real.  We all have biases, we have different experiences and often only hear opinions that mirror our own.  Working with DEI is important because it focuses on respectfully communicating with people and through communication uncovering inequities, exposing biases (which every person has), and getting exposure to different opinions and ideas so we can come to a greater understanding of those different than us.  DEI is often a tool that is used to help recognize where inequities exist and help address solutions.  I am honored to be able to work toward greater equity, respectful communication, and greater understanding between coworkers.”

Captain Adriene Walker: “I’ve always enjoyed learning about other people and their life experiences.  Being a part of DEI Champion Team has allowed me to continue to acquire knowledge and learn about other cultural differences I didn’t consider previously.  I want the City of Gastonia to be a place where we embrace our differences which will lead to better service for our community. When I dare to be powerful to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde

Gina Merrell: “I am happy to be on the DEI Champion Committee because an organization can truly only thrive when it accepts, encourages, and celebrates the many differences amongst its employees and brings them together to create an accepting and cohesive working environment.”

Lindsay Davis: “I joined the DEI Champion Committee because I want everyone to have a chance. The more diverse our workforce is, the wider range of opinions we can learn about, which leads to better problem-solving. I want everyone to feel comfortable sharing their different ideas and opinions.”

Through their tireless efforts and dedication, these women have fostered an environment where diversity is not just recognized but celebrated. Join us as we honor these inspiring women, highlighting their achievements, challenges, and the profound impact they’ve had in shaping a more inclusive future. Their stories remind us of the power of unity, the importance of representation, and the ongoing journey towards equity for all.

To learn more about the City of Gastonia’s DEI Strategic Action Plan, visit our website.