New county department to focus on equity and inclusion
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Feb. 22, 2023) — Contra Costa County is developing the Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice (ORESJ), a new county department.
The ORESJ’s primary function will be to better coordinate, strengthen and expand the county’s existing work on equity and inclusion, create new opportunities to deepen the work, and partner with the community in prioritization and implementation.
The mission of the office is to make a transformational shift within county government to eliminate inequity, harm, discrimination and bias (implicit and explicit) based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, immigration status, socio-economic status and for people with disabilities by focusing county efforts on understanding what it takes to achieve equity with a priority focus on racial equity.
The Board of Supervisors approved the initial concept and authorized the launch of a Community Planning Process. We developed a Host Table composed of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) residents, the Board of Supervisors and community-based organizations that came together to lead Community Listening Sessions to develop the priorities and office structure. We held Listening Sessions across Contra Costa, and many residents, departments and local nonprofits participated.
The Host Table reported its findings and recommendations to the Board of Supervisors at the Oct. 25, 2022. The board approved the recommendation of hiring two co-directors to lead the office. One co-director will focus on coordinating and expanding the equity work of county departments, and the other co-director will work directly with community partners.
The ORESJ will be a separate county department that reports to the county administrator with regular oversight by the Board of Supervisors’ Equity Committee. The Equity Committee is currently comprised of Supervisors John Gioia and Federal Glover. Their first meeting was held on Feb. 9, when they discussed the outreach and hiring process for the co-executive directors.
Contra Costa County is a large and diverse county. The ORESJ is an exciting step in shaping our county government to be more responsive and inclusive as we provide services and care. It will enable services to reach those who need them the most and address existing barriers. This office will ensure that Contra Costa County officials continue to better reflect every community we serve.
To see the development of the ORESJ, you can follow the Board of Supervisors’ Equity Committee by subscribing to their agendas at https://tinyurl.com/CCC-ORESJ.
Ken Carlson is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor. Email questions or comments to Carlson at SupervisorCarlson@bos.cccounty.us or call his office at 925-655-2350.