Norwalk’s Diversity Officer Has Resigned, City Confirms

LaToya Fernandez, Norwalk’s first DEI Officer.

Norwalk’s first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Officer, LaToya Fernandez, has resigned, Norwalk’s Director of Communications Michelle Woods Matthews confirmed Tuesday night in response to a reporter’s query.

Although she didn’t specify reasons for Fernandez’s departure, Woods released the following statement: 

LaToya Fernandez resigned from her position as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer on February 9th. The City thanks her for her service.
“The Mayor is committed to continuing to advance Norwalk’s core values of organizational diversity and inclusion and recognizes the importance of this position in helping the City develop policies and practices that build an inclusive culture. He will be seeking a replacement as soon as possible and is assembling a search committee to assist in filling the vacancy.

Fernandez could not immediately be reached for comment. She was hired in October 2022 as part of the Mayor’s Department. Rilling praised Fernandez last March, saying she had been “remarkable in reaching out to the community, also reaching out to City staff, arranging Spanish lessons for all interested employees.”

In Mayor Rilling’s January 2024 State of the City, he praised the City’s DEI efforts, stating, “We are working towards ensuring City government operates in an equitable manner that appropriately advances all our core values of organizational diversity and inclusion, and striving to meet those goals.”

Asked whether Fernandez had taken another job elsewhere, Woods said she wasn’t sure. The position has not yet been posted on the City website’s jobs page.

NAACP President Brenda Penn Williams declined to comment on Fernandez’ departure.


10 responses to “Norwalk’s Diversity Officer Has Resigned, City Confirms”

  1. Tysen Canevari

    What a waste of money! She literally achieved nothing while she was here. This is a position that you can clearly fill by a dedicated individual for far less than what we wasted on her. She arranged Spanish for the those that wanted it? Really Mr Mayor? Anyone can arrange that on their own. We need to pay her 6 figures? She couldnt interpret the blower ordinance into spanish for the landscape industry though.

  2. Scott Vetare

    Agree 100% Tyson! Spot on!

  3. Drew Todd

    GOOD JOB Harry!!! Saving the Tax Payers Money!!!!! PLEASE Do not and we don’t need too fill this absolutely USELESS position!!!!

  4. walter o’reilly

    Before this position is filled for another+$100k salary, a committee should be formed to review the actual need and what was gained from it. Spanish lessons? Seriously? What else did she do? Let’s have the Mayor’s office list those accomplishments.

  5. Skip Hagerty

    I think the city needs to hire a replacement immediately. Having a DEI officer is critical to eliminating discrimination since that person will ensure that the city’s hiring decisions, first and foremost, take into consideration a candidate’s race and gender.

    1. walter o’reilly

      I hope you’re being satirical. This high paid position has proven to be a waste of taxpayer money just to check a box and say we have it. She’s done nothing in a year that couldn’t have been performed by another employee already on the books. And, by the way, hiring someone based on race and gender is not only illegal it’s bad business. Hiring the most qualified candidate is the only responsible use of tax payer money.

    2. Raymond Schier

      Surely you jest, particularly in light of the massive tax increase coming down the road. Anyone who thinks this is such a good idea, can split the bill amongst like (insane) minds.

  6. Bryan Meek

    Come on DT. Who is going to update the city’s website to let us know the Mayor’s February 12th Snow Emergency is over? Or maybe that’s something the new Chief of Cyber Security will do? Or like the virus making people work from home 4 years later, perhaps we are still under a snow emergency?

    1. Drew Todd

      I thought we were still under a COVID Emergency..Wouldn’t surprise me…..

  7. Romney Donald

    Upon reading the comments under this post, I am not surprised at all. This situation underscores the importance of having a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Officer, especially someone from the Black community, in this role. Without representation, our voices may not even be considered. Norwalk has made progress, but there is a clear lack of care and knowledge perpetuated by racist tropes regarding the Black community here.

    Many members of the Norwalk community, myself included, know the reasons behind LaToya’s resignation. It is crucial that the Mayor ensures this position is filled equitably. The City’s values of organizational diversity and inclusion must be upheld, and the selection process should be transparent and inclusive. It is evident that there is work to be done in addressing the issues that led to LaToya’s departure, and the Mayor’s commitment to advancing these core values must be demonstrated in the appointment of a suitable replacement.

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