Posted by Terrence Dalton
The Rotary Club of Akron had the pleasure of listening to Council President Walters at our Tuesday, April 5, 2022, Club meeting.  View the meeting by clicking here.
Councilwoman Elizabeth (Liz) Walters first served on Council beginning in 2016.  She is serving her second term representing the citizens of Summit County as an At-Large member. She has been active on a wide variety of issues and working in partnership with her colleagues helped to navigate Summit County through the challenges of the last few years. She works hard to ensure a strong Summit County economy, support our communities and families, and innovate for a brighter tomorrow. In 2022, she was unanimously elected to serve a second term as Council President.
Early in her tenure she was instrumental in the implementation of Paid Parental Leave for county employees, the only Ohio county to pass such legislation. In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic she led the County effort to secure and distribute funding for small business and important social service nonprofits. Currently she chairs the Summit County Environmental Sustainability Task Force, co-chairs Summit County’s Special Committee to address racism as a public health crisis and serves on numerous County boards and commissions.
Councilwoman Walters began her presentation discussing how she sees her involvement in public service as a personal journey.  Summit County Council represents the 541,000 county residents, a budget of nearly a half billion dollars, and a workforce of over 2,000 employees. She noted that Summit County became an Executive form of government in 1979.  The first in the State to have this form of government.  Council President Walters stated the role of county government is to be a convener of groups to solve community problems.  These groups could deal with the challenges brought on my COVID and other health care issues, work to have stronger and safer communities, etc.
Much of Council President Walter’s presentation centered on the county’s efforts to address racism as a public health crisis.  She says the effort with this initiative is to “call people in” rather than “call people out”.  We have to live in the world we inherited and need to live by example.  She stated County government needs to “get our own house in order, by being transparent, inclusive and recognizing the limits of county government when it comes to addressing systemic racism or other issues.
Council President Walters outlined the process the county has taken to address systemic racism and some of the findings the study/report presented. 
In 2020 Summit County declared Racism as a Public Health Crisis (RAPHC), which established the Special Review Committee (SRC) whose charge was to determine how best to address systematic and structural racism throughout the municipality's nine townships and twenty-two cities and villages. The County conducted an initial examination of internal operations through dialogue and data analysis to highlight existing promising practices and uncover immediate next steps to address racism in the County. To facilitate the advancement of the county's racial equity journey, UPD Consulting was enlisted by the County to more systematically assess and examine several critical questions in the County’s equity journey:
● To what extent are County leaders and staff able to identify inequitable policies and practices? ● To what extent has the County examined the effect of systemic inequities over time?
● To what extent does the County know and understand where it is in the change process and how best to move across the Continuum to Becoming an Anti-Racist Multicultural Institution?
To learn more about the County’s findings, go to and click on the three different reports (1) Resolution:  Racism as Public Health Crisis, (2) Racism as a Public Health Assessment Executive Summary, and (3) Racism as a Public Health Crisis Assessment (full report).
Yours in Service - 
Terry Dalton
Akron Rotary Club Secretary and Scholarship Chair