Women’s work: Women step into leadership roles throughout Westfield

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During Mayor Scott Willis’ Jan. 1 swearing-in ceremony, Westfield City Councilmember Patrick Tamm made the following observation.

“Scott Willis hand-selected staff members who are competent, confident and all-out overachievers,” said Patrick, who represents District 4. “And they all happen to be women.”

According to a 2023 article in Forbes Magazine, women make up nearly 42 percent of the workforce, yet the same article noted that the number of women in senior leadership roles has dropped to around 32 percent.

Westfield is working to defy those statistics with what is arguably the most diverse city staff in Hamilton County.

“My decision to prioritize the hiring of women in leadership roles is rooted in the understanding that diversity fosters innovation and enhances decision-making processes,” Willis said. “By embracing a diverse leadership team, we can better address the needs of our community and create policies that are inclusive and responsive to the diverse voices that make up our city.”

Willis named Danielle Carey Tolan his chief of staff. The former Washington Township Trustee, she has more than 20 years of experience working in government and nonprofits.

“My passion and love for this community run deep,” Carey Tolan said. “I am proud to have such strong roots here and that I’m also helping shape the future.”

In December 2023, a caucus selected Jamie Mills to fill the position of Washington Township Trustee.

Kayla Arnold, former director of Westfield Welcome, is the new City of Westfield director of communications. She has nearly a decade of communication experience in municipal government.

“I am looking forward to increasing communication for our residents,” Arnold said. “We have so many positive things happening in Westfield and many stories to tell, so I am excited to enhance the frequency and quality of our communications.”

Kelley Wells, former community events coordinator, was appointed manager for Westfield Welcome. Similarly, Courtney Albright, former director of partner and member engagement, has been named the new president of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce.

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Mayor Scott Willis and Economic Development Director Jenell Fairman prepare for a meeting in the mayor’s conference room. (Photo by Amy Adams)

Jenell Fairman, a professional engineer and new director of economic development, comes to the City of Westfield from the City of Carmel, where she served as deputy director of redevelopment.

“I have a vision of Westfield developing into a place that uniquely reflects the personality of its residents,” Fairman said.

Kaitlin Glazier has stepped into a position that is a first for the City of Westfield — chief of legal.

“In the long term, it will save the city money that we have been paying in consulting fees to law firms,” Willis said. “The fact that I can go around the corner and ask her a question is invaluable.”

Glazier most recently served as the city attorney for Lawrence.

“Westfield is in a unique position to grow and change in a positive way, and there is certainly a need for legal advice and guidance throughout that process,” Glazier said.

Peg Strass has moved into the position of executive operations manager for the City of Westfield after having served three years as operations and public information manager for the Westfield Fire Department. She brings an even greater voice of diversity to the city.

“As a Latina, my life experience is vastly different from most,” Strass said. “I have a seat at the table to work, lead, mentor, contribute and live by example for all women of different backgrounds and ethnicities.”

Sheryl Sollars understands that responsibility well. Having served as executive director of the Westfield Washington Public Library since 2003, there were years when she was the only woman in a position of leadership within the city or township.

“With women in leadership roles, it is different because we often think the same way,” Sollars said.

Strass said that when she has been connected with powerful women, they have all learned from one another and relied on the strengths of the others.

“Women offer unique perspectives, insights and ideas that can add value to any discussion,” Arnold said.

Fairman spent several years working for an engineering firm as the only female employee.

“I made every effort to pave a trail for the women who would come after me, advocating for good maternity leave policies, work-life balance, and fair compensation and promotion,” Fairman said.

Mills embraces the responsibility to be a role model seriously, inspiring younger people to challenge stereotypes and pursue leadership positions.

“It’s important to empower younger generations and demonstrate that leadership positions are for everyone,” Glazier said.

Strass wants to see diversity extend to those of other cultural and ethnic experiences with a commission on diversity so that the city can listen and respond with needed programming.

“People here are rooted,” Strass said. “And they believe in change.”

Willis said he is proud to stand behind the women who have joined the leadership ranks.

“I am confident that their contributions will play a crucial role in the continued growth and prosperity of our city,” he said.

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Westfield Washington Public Library Director Sheryl Sollars meets with Director of Communications Kayla Arnold and Executive Operations Manager Peg Strass at the City Services Center. (Photo by Amy Adams)

Women in Leadership in Westfield

  • Danielle Carey Tolan — Chief of Staff
  • Kayla Arnold — Director of Communications
  • Janell Fairman — Director of Economic Development
  • Kaitlin Glazier — Chief of Legal
  • Peg Strass — Executive Operations Manager
  • Bradie Louks — Director of Human Resources
  • Jen Ganly — Director of Guest Services
  • Jamie Mills — Washington Township Trustee
  • Courtney Albright — Westfield Chamber of Commerce President
  • Sheryl Sollars — Westfield Washington Public Library Executive Director
  • Kelley Wells — Westfield Welcome Manager
  • Catherine Gommel — City of Westfield Manager of Guest Services

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