Diversity Committee sees positive results, prepares for new challenges

Cora Jackson-Fossett
Public Affairs Director
Department of Public Works
City of Los Angeles, California
Chair, APWA Diversity Committee

The Diversity Committee of the American Public Works Association met many challenges and made many strides this year in promoting the benefits of diversity in the workplace and within APWA.

As most of you know, APWA has enthusiastically chosen to embrace/celebrate the diversity that is inherent to the success of this nation. We, who are on the front lines of ensuring that the quality of life in our nation's cities continues to improve, have seen the positive results that are realized when all sections of the community are involved in creating an infrastructure that truly meets the needs of all the people.

During the past year, the Diversity Committee has undertaken many activities on a variety of levels to ensure that our membership understands and appreciates this need for diversity. The success of these activities is directly attributable to the following dedicated committee members: Sonya Bohannan, Philip (Flip) Bombardier, Augie Chang, Gary Downing, Glenn Kephart, and Diane Linderman, Board Liaison. Also, we received valuable support from Kaye Sullivan and Nickole Blankenship of the APWA Headquarters staff.

Because of geographic differences and our unique time schedules, we hold our regularly scheduled monthly meetings via telephone conference calls. In addition to these "meetings," we held a committee telephone conference call with chapter leaders to discuss pressing issues dealing with diversity and inclusiveness.

The activities of the Diversity Committee during the 2004 APWA Congress in Atlanta included hosting the annual First-Timers Meeting, which welcomes first-time attendees to the conference. Our committee members assisted the more than 130 people who attended this eighth annual meeting in understanding how to get the best value possible out of the event, both in terms of networking and in absorbing the information made available. We also distributed "Diversity/Inclusiveness" stickers to registrants to keep those at the conference constantly aware of the need for diversity in the workplace.

Our busy Diversity Committee also sponsored three diversity educational sessions at the 2004 Congress and have three more planned for this year's event.

The committee has developed a brochure, "Reasons for Diversity in the Workplace," which offers an insight into the need for diversity that is being made available to the national membership.

Our committee's 2004 Diversity Luncheon was held during the 2004 Congress with more than 60 guests in attendance. Nancy Lewis, President of Progressive Techniques, Inc., was the guest speaker.

We also used the Southern California Chapter's membership video and added an introduction by President Tom Trice and closing remarks by yours truly, as a tool for chapters to emphasize the need for and benefits of diversity and membership in APWA. Once completed, a copy of the video will be provided to each APWA chapter for viewing.

Finally, during the past year, the Diversity Committee also published nine articles in the APWA Reporter and five articles in Bridges. The topics of these articles ranged from "Building Partnerships and Relationships in Neighborhood Groups" to "Court Rulings Regarding Diversity." Other articles focused on using youth as diversity advocates in the community to the gender gap and/or the personality types of Generation X as they contribute to the diverse workplace.

While a lot has been accomplished by the Diversity Committee during the past year, there is still much more to be done. Our committee members look on the past year's achievements as simply the prelude to many new challenges, and we ask for your support in helping us ensure that APWA's membership continues to achieve diversity in the workplace as well as in the membership and leadership of APWA.

Cora Jackson-Fossett can be reached at (213) 978-0319 or cjackson@bpw.lacity.org.