The City of San José, once rooted in agriculture, is now the capital of Silicon Valley. Nearly 40% of its 1 million residents were born in a foreign country. While immigrants have high rates of workforce participation, many also struggle in areas such as education, economic opportunity, and equitable access to services and engagement, resulting in out-migration of many people of color, especially black and Hispanic community members. As San José has worked to prioritize the integration of its immigrant populations, city leadership has also recognized the need for more nuanced conversations and guidance around race and racial equity.
In 2018, San José joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a national network that works with civic leaders to identify and address historic and current structural inequities in government policies, programs and practices. Recently, some members of the city council elevated this issue onto the public sphere and have requested information about how City departments ensure equitable distribution of resources and services to bridge the gap between San José’s under-resourced, diverse communities and prosperous neighborhoods. There has long been momentum around issues of racial equity at the community-level. Given the conversations and activity among city staff, leadership, elected officials, and within the community, the City of San José has an opportune moment to normalize racial equity and begin a process of long-term culture change.
To support this work, the City of San José, through the Office of the City Manager, will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one year to support the implementation of the GARE racial equity framework to guide city policies, programs and investments towards systemic change as well as support the GARE team with normalizing racial equity objectives across city operations.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Fellow and the host agency.
Starting in October 2019, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will begin his or her work by attending and participating in all Intro Team and Implementation Team GARE sessions to understand current work happening at the city level and support selection and coordination of future GARE cohorts. Concurrently, the Fellow will begin researching similar efforts from across the United States to better understand successful models for promoting racial equity within local government structures and operations. . Following a period of benchmarking and research, the Fellow will work closely with city leadership to determine how best to share and disseminate best practices and anticipated resource needs, either in the form of policy recommendations or through an implementation plan for the GARE race and equity framework.
The Fellow should demonstrate an executive presence and strong emotional intelligence, with an ability to lead sensitive discussions around race and equity, advocate for stated preferences and viewpoints, and bring along stakeholders who are unfamiliar with or not yet appreciative of how racial equity might play out within their own departments or work. Despite current support for this initiative from leadership, the Fellow must still make a “business case” for incorporating, and eventually institutionalizing, a more systematic use of a racial equity lens in standard city operations. To be successful in this role, the Fellow must be an adept facilitator, as well as a utility player who can get results without relying on a large administrative team for support.
- Benchmarking & Research: Engage with city’s GARE cohorts to understand current needs and gaps within and between various city departments. Complete a comprehensive analysis of current policies and strategies from cities nationwide. Building on the results of the listening tour and research, work with city officials to develop an overall strategy for culture change, where City staff actively apply principles of racial equity to all internal and external policies, practices, and decisions.
- Integrating the GARE Racial Equity Framework into City systems: Develop a plan for integrating the GARE comprehensive framework for evaluating current city policies, programs and investments in partnership with the GARE working group and key city staff, guided by the priorities established in the Racial Equity Action Plan(s). Develop a protocol to flag opportunities to implement pilot projects that work to reform policies, programs or investment strategies and identify teams that could apply the racial equity tool. Identify a strategy to address invisible, informal systems that contribute to racial inequity within city systems and practices.
- Stakeholder Engagement: Build relationships with and maintain engagement with stakeholders across city departments. Communicate the value derived from approaching their work with a racial equity lens in order to win and maintain support for the movement towards systems change. Balance between stakeholders who want efforts to move forward more quickly, and those who might hesitate or require more education and outreach.
- Implement recommendations: Create guidance for a set of recommendations and resources needed for implementation, and develop options for a long-term vision for Race and Equity work in the City of San José. Possibility for short-term implementation and testing of some recommendations, but emphasis on long-term sustainable outcomes. Think through a mechanism to track and monitor the work occurring in departments, policies, or programs, and identify ways to measure impact.
- Dave Sykes, City Manager, San José City Manager’s Office
- Zulma Maciel, Director, San José Office of Immigrant Affairs
- At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) and change management.
- Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
- Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
- Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
- Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
- Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
- Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
- Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.