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Denver's new chief equity officer will look at how the city spends money on equity and diversity efforts

Denver has a new chief equity officer starting Oct. 11. The hope is to make Denver a more equitable environment for people of color.

DENVER — Creating a more equitable environment is something many people and agencies are trying to address. Many businesses are working to prioritize efforts on diversity and inclusion, but the city of Denver is working toward equity.

"We've never really advanced equity. We've really focused on diversity and inclusion; now we're talking about something completely different,” said Dr. Dwinita Mosby Tyler, chief catalyst for the Equity Project LLC.

Denver will have a new chief equity officer in the Mayor’s Office of Social Equity and Innovation. 

Dr. Aisha Rousseau, who formerly led the Division of Disability, will take on the new role with the idea of trying to help the city achieve its diversity, equity and inclusion goals.

"This is really elevating the platform of equity work here in the city and county of Denver. It is race forward and it really continues the work and the development of the foundation,” Rousseau said.

Starting Oct. 11, Rousseau will begin the role. She, the city and the county hope to turn the tide advancing equity in all areas from education, government, and policies. 

Talks of an equity officer came about years ago after city leaders were inspired by opportunities for people of color in other cities.

“I think that this provides such a wonderful opportunity although the numbers or percentage of Black and Latino folks may be lower here in the Mile-High City, the opportunity is rich,” Rousseau said.

She wants to ensure people can thrive regardless of the color of their skin. She hopes to accomplish through her work within the city's office of social equity and innovation.

"It eventually became its own office, but that's where it was birthed out of doing human and civil rights work,” Rousseau said.

She hopes the work will continue to create a more equitable environment in Denver, and she’s starting with a close look at what the city is spending on efforts for equity and diversity.

"Every office has had to address how equity and diversity is addressed in their annual budget for this year. So, we’ll continue that work," Rousseau said. "So, it’s not specific to any one agency or department but its city wide and we continue that commitment."

Another project Rousseau is passionate about is the education and reconciliation surrounding social justice. That's in partnership with Metropolitan State University. She says this will continue the research of how bias can be eliminated within law enforcement & education.

“I’m just excited about the opportunity to be able to do the work and elevate, continue to elevate the work that has already been done. And continue to make sure Denver is a leading city,” Rousseau said.

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