Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
In 2021 the Town of Erie welcomed the first Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Manager to the Town staff. As part of the Town's Vision of being "Innovative stewards of our community, committed to excellence" leadership on staff and the Board of Trustees determined that adding a specific DEI position and focus at the Town was imperative.
Meet Alberto De Los Rios
Alberto joined the Town of Erie after supporting Boulder County with pandemic recovery, continuity of government, and incorporating racial equity practices. In his previous work, Alberto not only recognized barriers for residents to adequately address and abide by policies but spearheaded an internal department-wide assessment and evoked crucial conversations about race to achieve introspection and change. He also worked with marginalized communities facing the threat of eviction, criminalization, financial burdens, and limited access to health care.
In His Own Words
As the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Manager, I believe that my work is to bring people together to foster a space of learning, self-reflection, and curiosity to create lasting change in our communities. I examine current practices and structures of governance, diving deeply and challenging the status quo—Why do we believe this is good and this is bad? What led us to be in the places we live today and uphold practices we have? Who has had the power and opportunity to make decisions and establish a legacy? How does someone’s lived experience and identities shape the way they see the world and others? Through this examination, I embed historical and social contexts (past and present) to understand how individuals, communities, and identities have been favored, invited, and given advantage; or disregarded, excluded, placated, and erased.
DEI work involves all employees and programs in the Town of Erie! Some of the work that already begun is looking at how to normalize conversations around DEI and finding solutions to some of the following questions:
- How we can achieve shared meaning around topics pertaining DEI and government?
- How can we approach DEI learning as an opportunity to discover ourselves and learn from others?
- How do current government practices favor groups of specific races, professional/educational backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses?
- How has the Town’s history of development excluded diverse people from living and participating in our communities?
- How can we, as an institution, examine the role of bias in customer service, staff development, and hiring and retention?
Juneteenth is the most recently recognized federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved Black people. While originally designed to celebrate the last of the slaves in Texas to learn of the Emancipation Proclamation, today It is also observed for celebrating Black resilience, achievements, and joy. Originating in Galveston, Texas, it has been celebrated annually on June 19 in various parts of the United States since 1865. In Colorado, we began celebrating Juneteenth in 1980 when state legislator Al Edwards successfully passed a bill marking June 19 as an official state celebration.
President Biden officially recognized Juneteenth as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, when he signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. To learn more about Juneteenth and what it celebrates visit the History.com and Juneteenth websites. To learn more about some of many, significant contributions by Black Americans to Colorado, visit the Denver Public Library site.
These questions do not have to be done in isolation! The beauty of DEI work is that everyone is welcome to participate—there is always an opportunity for learning:
- Collaborating with other governments, community members, staff, and organizations to bring awareness and provide space for dialogue and reflection around social justice and racial equity.
- Finding opportunities to combine efforts across departments and disciplines.
- Holding space for people to be brave and speak openly.
To share some examples, this is what staff has embarked on with the application of a DEI lens since Fall 2021:
- Creating new guidelines for hiring and recruiting bias for all staff involved in the hiring process.
- Examining how we compensate staff members who provide additional skills such as interpreters, translators, and cultural brokers to our constituents.
- Developing new policies around housing and development that will provide the opportunity for families and individuals in different income levels and requiring such to be a part of the Town’s composition.
I invite you to be curious and kind with yourself and others. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.