Portland hired its first director of justice, diversity, equity and inclusion last week after a national search.
Umaru W. Balde will be the first to serve in the new position created by the City of Portland. Balde will come to the city from Dubuque, Iowa, where he was director of the Multicultural Family Center.
This position comes from a recommendation from the former Racial Equity Steering Committee, which was a 12-person panel that formed in 2020 after several local demonstrations following the national racial justice uprising in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis.
According to a press release, Balde will advise Interim City Manager Danielle West on “issues of diversity, equity, and inclusive practices throughout the city of Portland, both within City government and throughout the broader community. Additionally, he will perform professional and organizational duties related to the equitable and inclusive delivery of City services and operations, as well as administrative policy.”
Balde will be “squarely focused on ensuring our work helps create a more just, diverse, equitable, and inclusive city,” West said in the press release.
Balde was previously an investigator for the Civil Rights Commission in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is a doctoral candidate at the University of Northern Iowa, where it is anticipated he will receive his degree in 2025. He is fluent in English, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, French and Hebrew. He will earn more than $113,000 from Portland in his new role.