Hiring Matthew Boaz as diversity director on Upper Arlington Schools' agenda for Nov. 19

Nate Ellis
ThisWeek group

In moving toward a pledge to enhance cultural awareness, understanding and inclusion in the district and community, Upper Arlington Schools plans to hire its first diversity, equity and inclusion executive director. 

Superintendent Paul Imhoff announced via the district’s website Oct. 23 that he would recommend Matthew L. Boaz to lead the DEI programming. 

The Upper Arlington school board is expected to approve the move at its Nov. 19 meeting. 

Matthew L. Boaz is expected to be hired this month as Upper Arlington Schools' first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion executive director.

Kathy Jenney, associate superintendent of human resources and operations, said Boaz, 51, will start Nov. 30.

His annual salary, which will be finalized by the board, will range from $125,000 to $155,000. The benefits package is expected to be 40% of his salary, Jenney said. 

“In line with our mission to challenge and support every student every step of the way, the executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion will provide leadership to support, recognize and celebrate the dignity of all people,” Jenney said. “The executive director will serve as a leader, mentor, facilitator, collaborator and resource for students and families, school leaders, faculty, staff, business partners, volunteers, donors and friends.” 

Pending board approval, Boaz will come to Upper Arlington after working for the past 20 months as director of diversity and inclusion for the city of Toledo. He has worked for two decades in the areas of equal employment, diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Boaz also spent six years as chief diversity officer at Wright State University in Dayton and has worked as a compliance officer in Baltimore and Pittsburgh for the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Contract Compliance Programs.   

A native of Van Wert, Boaz earned a bachelor of arts degree in communications and ethnic studies and a master’s degree in public administration from Bowling Green State University. 

“I am really excited to become the executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Upper Arlington Schools,” Boaz said. “I look forward to getting there and building relationships, partnerships and further developing an environment of inclusive excellence. I have worked to obtain (and) maintain diversity, equity and inclusion for over 20 years in federal government, higher education and local government positions.” 

The district began work toward enhancing DEI awareness and programming in 2016 when it partnered with the Upper Arlington Education Association and the Ohio Education Association to provide three-day training for more than 100 district staff members. 

Those staff members now serve as DEI leaders in their respective school buildings; according to the district’s website, it is “essential for our students and staff to feel a sense of belonging and balance in order to have safe learning environments in which everyone can thrive.” 

“The strategic plan has two goals: whole learning and student and staff well-being,” Jenney said. “DEI is an important part of our well-being goal.”   

Boaz said he was interested in the position because the district has a reputation of excellence and the job offers the challenge of leading a “proactive change to be more inclusive.” 

“This is to provide leadership in recognizing and celebrating value in all people,” Boaz said. “(My) goals include building relationships with as many people as possible, including students and staff from every building in the district; learning as much as I can about existing efforts related to diversity, equity and inclusion; learning what is being measured and what needs to  be measured; reviewing as much data as possible; collaborating with the Equity Advisory Board to draw a framework for our efforts and developing some inclusive recruitment strategies for new employees of the district.” 

Boaz said long-term goals will be developed over time once more information has been gathered and assessed along with collaboration with others vested in these efforts. 

“I believe two themes are vital to being successful in this work in a way that is sustainable: One way is to move the organization (or) community from being transactional to being proactive in creating an environment of inclusive excellence, therefore preventing some negative issues from developing or existing by designing systems that are inherently inclusive,” he said. “This means instead of simply addressing a specific situation, we must additionally work on the transformation of the system that has allowed that transaction to occur.” 

By bringing a DEI perspective to district operations and planning every day, Boaz said it will become a typical part of the conversation for district decision-makers and the community. 

“I will consistently speak to and operate with these themes in mind on a regular basis and work toward making them a part of the culture within the UA community as a way to achieve goals and attempt to satisfy district objectives,” he said. 

nellis@thisweeknew.com 

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