For Immediate Release
Supervisors approve vision and values for Sonoma County Office of Equity
SANTA ROSA, CA | December 08, 2022
On Tuesday, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors reviewed and approved the mission, vision and values of the county Office of Equity which was created in August 2020 to address social and racial equity issues and to ensure county policies and programs result in greater positive outcomes for communities of color.
Under the descriptions approved, the office’s mission will be to work in partnerships within the County government “with Black, Indigenous, and communities of color; and with community members who are disproportionately impacted by systemic inequities.”
The vision of the office has been identified as a Sonoma County “where power and resources are distributed equitably; where systems support every community member as they work together to cultivate well being, agency, and liberation; and where people of all races and identities can live authentically.”
“This vital work is the start of looking at our day-to-day work through an equity lens and centering community at the heart,” said Chair James Gore, Board of Supervisors. “I’m proud of the progress that we are making.”
Alegría De La Cruz, director of the Office of Equity, also shared the progress the office has made, including the creation of an Equity Core Team composed of 57 county employees representing 15 county departments and agencies. The Core Team members have been trained and supported to apply racial equity concepts to their day-to-day county work.
The Office of Equity also has engaged with community groups, held listening sessions and received input from the county’s Department and Agency Heads Association. Supervisors Lynda Hopkins and James Gore also formed an Equity Ad Hoc committee that provided input into the development of the office’s guiding statements. This work supports the objectives identified in the Board of Supervisors’ 5-year Strategic Plan in the Racial Equity and Social Justice pillar.
The Core Team identified a need for more equity training for staff and county leadership, which led to the creation of a Racial Equity Learning program within the County. The program aligns with the Government Alliance for Racial Equity’s (GARE) Strategic Approach to Institutional Change, which identifies normalizing conversations about race equity and developing a shared understanding of the concepts through training. More information about GARE’s Core Team concept is available here: https://www.racialequityalliance.org/resources/racial-equity-core-teams-the-engines-of-institutional-change/
“Without defining and understanding institutional racism and what it looks like on a day-to-day basis in service provision and employment at the County, we cannot proceed to address those actions correctly and dismantle inequities that have persisted for too long,” said Alegria De La Cruz, director of the Office of Equity. “The Board and staff commitment to proceeding with this crucial and difficult work can change the trajectory of treatment of those historically impacted communities for generations to come.”
The Racial Equity Learning program is the first of its kind within county government and includes learning through affinity spaces facilitated by training consultants. Each group received racial equity foundation training and shared understanding of key equity concepts, tools to identify and overcome barriers to racial equity work, and learned how to disrupt racial inequities as public servants within their departments.
Following the foundation training, the Core Team participated in an intensive facilitators training “Train the Trainer'' and an Equity-Centered Results-Based Accountability training series. In October, the Core Team and facilitators delivered a racial equity training for county department heads using the skills learned in the “Train the Trainer” series. Staff also participated in Anti-racist Result-Based Accountability training which seeks to identify the roots of inequities and find solutions to address policies and programs that affect communities of color. The Office of Equity is seeking funding through the County’s strategic plan in spring 2023 to expand capacity for ongoing race equity assistance, technical assistance, and data analysis.
Beginning in February, a steering committee composed of 13 county staff members, will take the first steps toward the creation of the county’s Racial Equity Action plan with a goal of ensuring all departments provide better services and employment opportunities to communities of color. It will also develop a roadmap to achieving the results identified in the strategic plan.
For more information on the Office of Equity visit: https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/administrative-support-and-fiscal-services/office-of-equity
To learn about the Board of Supervisors Strategic Plan, including the Racial Equity and Social Justice pillar visit: https://socostrategicplan.org/