The League has added a fourth Senior Fellow, Dante James, who currently serves as the Director for the Office of Equity and Human Rights in Portland, OR. The League’s senior fellows assist our work in particular specialty areas and are available to help communities with particular questions or consulting needs. Information about the other three senior fellows can be found here.
Dante has more than 25 years of experience within national, state, and local government, performing political, non-profit, or legal work in the areas of social justice and civil rights. Dante has institutionalized equity policies and practices in Portland, consulted in the creation of equity offices around the country, and created what many consider to be a national model of equity work in government.
Dante is an example of a new trend in local government – cities adding people to lead equity as well as diversity and inclusion work. Chief diversity and inclusion officers have been added in cities such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Columbus, Ohio, and Philadelphia.
Other cities have also added equity officers, including Austin and San Antonio, Texas. Dante has assisted Tacoma, Washington, with its equity office. Notably, he served as an executive on loan to Oakland, California, working to establish that California city’s equity office. Seattle has one of the longest running efforts in this arena.
By way of background, Dante holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Central Arkansas. He has been an attorney in private practice, a public defender, and an administrative hearing officer, as well as executive director of two non-profit organizations focused on social justice. He was a member of the Advance Staff for the Clinton administration during the 90’s and traveled nationally and internationally with President and Mrs. Clinton. Prior to his time in Portland, Dante lived in Denver, Colorado, where he served as Executive Director of Denver’s affirmative action office, overseeing its Minority/Women Business Enterprise program.
As a partner of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the National Civic League encourages cities to pursue and adopt policies that achieve racial equity. Equity is achieved when race cannot be used as a predictor of how well a person will fare in life.
The Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation enterprise, which has adapted some practices from Truth and Reconciliation Commission efforts worldwide, prioritizes inclusive, community-based healing activities and policy design that seek to change collective community narratives and broaden the understanding that Americans have for their diverse experiences. The TRHT implementation guide is available and offers a step-by-step guide on examining a community’s experiences.