Hamilton seeking to re-energize Diversity and Inclusion Commission to benefit city

Hamilton is seeking people to join its newly remodeled Diversity and Inclusion Commission. The city has had prior diversity efforts, such as a 2018 lunch event at the city building that sought to improve inclusion by teaching people about other cultures. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF
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Hamilton is seeking people to join its newly remodeled Diversity and Inclusion Commission. The city has had prior diversity efforts, such as a 2018 lunch event at the city building that sought to improve inclusion by teaching people about other cultures. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF

City officials are looking for people to apply to Hamilton’s newly reconstituted Diversity and Inclusion Commission.

Hamilton City Council recently reduced the number of commission members, from 15 voting members to seven, with two or three non-voting members who are appointed by the city manager.

City records show the commission itself had meetings last February and April, with a subcommittee meeting in early May.

Archie Johnson, a former city council member who raised the commission’s lack of meetings during last year’s council election season, said he hopes the new commission will do better than past efforts.

“I think they first have to talk about what’s plaguing our city,” and the things that are holding people back from being financially successful, Johnson said.

The difficult job of successfully increasing diversity in the city’s staff “takes work and tough conversations,” he said. Among other things, people on the commission have to acknowledge “there is an east/west issue in the city,” and then they have to analyze what is there and how to resolve it, he said.

For the new commission to have buy-in from the community, people living in such East Side neighborhoods as the Second and Fourth wards, Lindenwald, North End and other areas have to feel they are being represented and their voices are being heard, Johnson said.

Officials are “just looking for some new enthusiasm,” said Civil Service & Personnel Director Jeanne Pope. “We have some additional information at this point I think that can help us refocus the goals.”

One aim of the commission is to increase diversity of city staff. As for other goals, those will be up to the new members of the commission, Pope said.

“What we want to do is get the Diversity and Inclusion Commission together and decide on what we think are attainable goals for this year,” she said.

People interested in joining the commission can contact Pope at 513-785-7186 or jeanne.pope@hamilton-oh.gov.

The questionnaire to be filled out by people wanting to join the commission can be found here.

Under the old commission format, the panel’s purpose was “to study internal and external barriers to diversity and inclusion and provide recommendations regarding such barriers.”

The new purpose, according to city documents, is “to receive reports from city management related to internal and external diversity and inclusion efforts and provide non-binding advice regarding such efforts.”

The former commission had 15 voting members, eight appointed by the city manager and seven appointed by council. It also had three non-voting members appointed by the city manager.

The new version will have seven voting members “appointed by City Council liaisons,” plus two or three non-voting members appointed by the manager.

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