This week, I sent the following letter to the DuPage County Board, outlining a plan to kick off a dialogue on diversity and inclusion in DuPage County:
June 3, 2020
Dear Board members,
The events of the past week have certainly caused us all to reflect. And I suppose I am not alone in feeling conflicted by many of my own observations about where our society is, as we continue to strive for racial inclusion and fairness.
On one hand, I am proud of the actions our County has taken toward increased diversity and inclusion. First, we expanded our Strategic Plan, adding a diversity and inclusion goal. Second, we’ve made significant strides, appointing a list of qualified, diverse candidates to local county positions to serve our DuPage residents. 40% of candidates (25 out of 61) appointed since January of 2019 were women or minorities. Third, our County is a leader in law enforcement training. DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin and Sheriff Jim Mendrick have made significant investments in training for crisis and de-escalation techniques that result in calmer interactions and peaceful, positive conflict resolution. Our law enforcement community and county government have worked closely with organizations like the NAACP and Unity Partnership, improving the relationship between police officers and civilians by fostering mutual understanding, erasing negative stereotypes, and developing new pathways for dialogue in the community. Sadia Covert, District 5 County Board Member, a state-certified law enforcement instructor, has trained many law enforcement officers in DuPage County in diversity and inclusion.
And yet, it’s difficult to look at the events of the last week and not conclude we have more work to do.
Therefore, I’m asking our diverse DuPage Complete Count Committee, which includes the NAACP, Unity Partnership, representatives of Asian, Hispanic and Muslim organizations throughout DuPage, as well as non-profit organizations, the College of DuPage, Giving DuPage, workNet, Choose DuPage and representatives of each County Board district, to add to their charge, a special outreach to minority groups. In addition to counting all DuPage residents, I ask the Complete Count committee to utilize the great expertise of its membership to devote one of its upcoming meetings, either in person or by electronic means, to a dialogue regarding diversity and inclusion. From that dialogue, I hope to determine some suggestions for concrete actions our County, our businesses and municipal leadership, can take to improve race relations and make every DuPage resident feel welcome and included. Some outcomes of this dialogue might include suggestions to increase minority participation in job training programs, in higher and vocational education, as volunteers and in leadership positions in non-profit and civic groups, and to increase representation on public and private boards and commissions at every level…including in business, municipal, township, county and state leadership.
I welcome your thoughts and input and thank you for your support.
Date Posted: Thursday, June 4, 2020