With a new name and a slightly altered focus, Leadership Westerville's former MLK Breakfast Committee is aiming to better represent diversity in Westerville.
The group originally was established as a subcommittee of Leadership Westerville that focused on the annual breakfast celebrating the life of the civil-rights leader on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is Jan. 15.
But last fall, the committee decided that there was room to do more and began holding "community conversations" surrounding race, branching away from solely focusing on MLK Day.
Leadership Westerville manager Matt Lofy, who has been on the committee for four years, said the group realized it was time to move beyond the single celebration.
"The ongoing conversation behind the scenes was always 'We're very proud of the MLK breakfast, but we should really be doing more with the conversation about race and continuing that on,' " he said.
That conversation led to the rebrand of the group, which is now called the Leadership Westerville Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Project, a title Lofy said is more accurate.
"We figured that if we're planning a breakfast and then planning an after-hours event, we probably shouldn't be scheduling 7 p.m. meetings when we're called the MLK Breakfast Committee," he said with a laugh.
In a release, the Rev. Vaughn Bell, a Leadership Westerville board member and Triumphant Church of God pastor, said the name change also better reflects the group's goals, which have moved beyond breakfast.
"This name transformation was undertaken to reflect the committee's mission of 'Advancing toward the Beloved Community,' " he said. "The LW-MLK Jr. Project will continue to host the annual Westerville MLK Breakfast and will host a series of diversity related community conversations."
Lofy said although the early goal will be to continue those quarterly conversations, he hopes the benefits will extend beyond just bringing people together four times a year.
"There are a lot of benefits for a community that's having discussions about growing in all different capacities," he said. "A lot of events and everything we see in our community don't always represent the full scope of the community, in terms of who's attending.
"By coming together in these smaller groups, we're able to hear stories we may not have heard and learn things we may not have learned. But by hearing these stories and having these conversations, we're able to go out and share those in our workplace and at home to make Westerville a more accepting community and a more loving and neighborly community."
The group's next community conversation will be 7 to 8:30 p.m. July 16 at the Westerville Area Resource Ministry, 150 Heatherdown Drive.
Titled, "Diversity Goes to the Movies," the conversation will be centered on the films Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Get Out.
For details, visit westervillechamber.com/leadership-westerville.