Lake Oswego hires first equity program manager
Coming from her experience as a woman of color, Guilian del Rio is motivated by her belief that every person deserves access to the same opportunities.
"It's more so an equity thing," said the new Lake Oswego city employee. "I truly believe we all deserve the same opportunities regardless of our socioeconomic status, of our racial background or ethnic background."
Del Rio plans to bring her skills and past work with diversity, equity and inclusion to the city to help create positive change.
Last April, the Lake Oswego City Council approved an ordinance that established a permanent Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board. Simultaneously they hired an equity program manager. Del Rio officially began her new position as program manager Monday, Oct. 4. Del Rio will work closely with, and manage, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board. She will also focus on training and development for city employees, creating relationships with organizations, neighborhood associations and culturally specific groups. An important part of her roll will be to identify resources available in the local community and Clackamas County.
"I'm really excited to get to know the community more," del Rio said. "I'm excited to create community events that celebrate different cultures. I'm also excited to learn about the culture here in Lake Oswego."
The creation of these roles was a result of a substantial list of recommendations that came before the council from the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force last year. According to the task force's report, there were four overarching recommendations. Firstly, hiring a full-time equity program manager. Also, establishing a permanent Diversity, Equity and Inclusion commission, committee or board. Third, to create a training and development program that supports the implementation of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategies for council, staff and boards and commissions. And fourthly, forming partnerships with organizations and businesses that support underrepresented communities.
Del Rio said she's looking forward to working with a city that seems receptive to change. She wants to talk with community members about their understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion "and see what they envision for equity and diversity for the city."
Del Rio received her bachelor's degree in ethnic studies and Spanish from the University of Oregon. After graduation, she went to work in tech sales and "quickly realized that wasn't what was motivating me in life." She then transitioned into the nonprofit world and worked for Latino Network — a Portland nonprofit organization that helps transform the lives of Latino children, their families and communities. She focused on helping children in the David Douglas School District make the transition to college. Most recently, del Rio worked at Portland State University as a college advisor for the university's Upward Bound college preparation program for high schoolers.
The transition to city government is a change, but del Rio said she will use the skills she developed in her prior roles to help the city move forward in this work.
"It's different in the sense of the people I'd be serving," del Rio said. "But the work still stays the same. I'm advocating for change regardless of it being in education or not."
Del Rio is a Woodburn resident who is simultaneously finishing her master's degree in educational leadership policy from Portland State University. In her free time, she enjoys working out, playing soccer, making jewelry, spending time with family and friends, and singing some karaoke.
"I may not be good at it, but I love it," she said.
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