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City Hires Equity and Inclusion Manager

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By Jorge Casuso

August 31, 2022 -- Santa Monica has hired an Equity and Inclusion Manager to oversee efforts to diversify the City's institutional culture, City officials announced Tuesday.

Paolo Velasco -- who for the past decade has been director of the UCLA Bruin Resource Center -- will build on the "significant progress" made over the past two years by Equity and Inclusion Officers (EIOs) in every City department, officials said.

“Paolo brings a wealth of knowledge and experience building programs and initiatives that raise up diverse voices and build a more inclusive institutional culture,” said City Manager David White.

“We are excited to have him in Santa Monica to help expand our DEI efforts both inside the organization and within the Santa Monica community.”

At UCLA, where he was worked on DEI efforts for 19 years, Velasco developed programs and services "focused on advancing the understanding and support of diverse and marginalized communities," officials said.

They include foster youth, students who have been homeless, "system-impacted students," student veterans and undocumented students.

The programs have promoted "positive intergroup dialogue and ally-building" and fostered "a culture of respect and inclusivity."

The City's equity team was formed in June 2020 following demonstrations and riots -- both nationwide and in Santa Monica -- protesting the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

The team "stepped into action to join the movement against systemic racism and to better live the City’s values of equity and inclusion," City officials said.

At its June 8, 2020 meeting, the Council also voted to support the creation of the Santa Monica Black Lives Association, a nonprofit designed by Black community leaders to support Black Santa Monicans.

And it voted to create a Public Safety Reform Advisory Committee "to ensure that public safety in Santa Monica employs best practices to recognize the humanity and dignity of every person."

Velasco said his work at UCLA -- which has included serving as a manager, lecturer, research analyst, health educator and training facilitator -- has prepared him for the job.

“I have dedicated my professional career to supporting individuals’ education and success, building and empowering communities, and advancing values of equity and inclusivity," Velasco said.

"My experiences have taught me that the critical changes that are needed in our society can best be achieved when diverse communities come together and engage in the difficult yet inspiring work of coalition building.

“I am excited to join the City of Santa Monica and to contribute to an organization and a community that is striving to cultivate a diverse, inclusive, and fair environment where everyone can thrive and feel a sense of belonging,” he said.

Velasco will assume the new post on September 19 with an annual salary of $155,580.

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