Diversity in Westport: It’s not an oxymoron.
You just have to know where to look.
Of course, it helps to have a guide like Ifeseyi Gayle.
A single mother of Nigerian heritage who grew up in Scotland, with a bachelor’s in business administration, a master’s in public administration, and a career in healthcare reimbursement and credentialing, she moved to Westport from Stamford for what she figured would be a year.
She soon met 5 people from her Scottish home town. She then found others, from around the world.
Ifeseyi became active in the her children’s schools. Following her Nigerian grandmother’s involvement in politics, she volunteered with candidate Stephanie Thomas, then ran for (and won) a seat on the Board of Assessment Appeals.
As co-chair of the Democratic Town Committee’s Outreach Committee, she works with residents, restaurants and small businesses around town.
Now — inspired by a conversation with Board of Education member Christina Torres — she is reaching out via Facebook, to celebrate multiculturalism in Westport.
The “Diverse Westport” page highlights people, organizations and events. Ifeseyi posts several times a day, alerting members to everything from Bollywood Zumba at the YMCA and the TEAM Westport Book Club, to town-wide events of interest to all (not necessarily diversity-related), plus national happenings like Black History Month and Coming Out Day.
“Rock Star of the Month” features women like Stephanie Tang (the head of Kings Highway Elementary School’s diversity, equity and inclusion group recently graduated from nursing school, and started a Girls on the Run leadership program).
Westport’s Asian, Hispanic, Black, Middle Eastern and LGBTQ+ populations — plus many more — are celebrated on the “Diverse Westport” page.
The Facebook group has introduced Ifeseyi to even more diversity here. Many members are grateful to see themselves represented and acknowledged — and to meet others who are very different, but also sometimes unseen.
“Diverse Westport” is hidden on Facebook, for security reasons. Anyone interested in joining can email email@example.com., or add Ifeseyi Gayle as a Facebook friend, and ask to join the group.
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Ifeseyi Gayle herself is a “Rock Star”. I met shortly after becoming involved in the DTC. She is always smiling, willing to join in, coming up with ideas to fix or help. Ifeseyi has a contagious laugh and is “obviously” completely inclusive of everyone. I am not surprised to see her featured here and to learn one more way that she is working to make Westport a better place to live. Thanks Shay!
Amazing! This is so inspiring in a time when all of this is being shut down in other areas of the country! She is such an asset!
We love Shay she does a lot for Westport as some who serves wih I am support her in what ever she does I am proud to call her a friend from sal liccione
Thank you Bobbi Essagof, Bobbi Essagof and Sal liccione for your kind words. You guys almost made me cry. I am humbled to be in an amazing town. Thank you dan for this amazing pieces!