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Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: February 20, 2020
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Announces Community Forums to Inform Statewide Plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Community members, experts are invited to engage in building Virginia’s diversity office

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that his administration will host five community forums in March where Virginians can provide input on Virginia’s first-ever “Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence.”

In September, Governor Northam announced the country’s first cabinet-level diversity officer. The Chief Diversity Officer is charged with developing a sustainable framework to promote inclusive practices across Virginia state government, implementing a strategic plan to address systemic inequities in state government practices, and turning feedback from state employees, external stakeholders, and community leaders into concrete equity policy.

“It’s clear we must do more to make state government more inclusive and address historical inequities in areas like education, healthcare, and access to business opportunities,” said Governor Northam. “I encourage community leaders and stakeholders to be part of these important conversations as we work to build a stronger and more equitable Virginia for all who live, work, and visit our Commonwealth.”

“Virginia can lead the nation in building an intentionally diverse, inclusive, and equitable state government,” said Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity Officer. “I look forward to having discussions with communities across our Commonwealth, and I welcome everyone to participate.”

Dr. Underwood will lead the forums and present a draft template of the plan intended to advance visible diversity, equity, and inclusion for state government agencies. The forums will also offer ways that other sectors can participate, including non-profit organizations, local municipalities, businesses, and K-12 school districts.

Participants will engage with the volunteer executive steering committee that is drafting the plan. Suggestions and feedback will help inform the development of an actionable and measurable framework that will foster collective and tangible change and guide Virginia’s effort to address statewide inequities.

All five community forums will take place from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM on these dates:

Monday, March 2
Chrysler Museum of Art, One Memorial Place, Norfolk, Virginia 23510

Monday, March 9
Charlottesville High School, Media Center, 1400 Melbourne Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22901

Wednesday, March 18
Harrisonburg City Hall, 409 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22801

Wednesday, March 25
James Lee Community Center, 2855 Annandale Road, Falls Church, Virginia 22042

Monday, March 30
Bristol Virginia Public Schools, School Board Office, 220 Lee Street, Bristol, Virginia 24201 

Those interested in attending one of the upcoming community forums may register here.

Dr. Underwood is also accepting applications for positions within the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Interested individuals should submit their resume and a cover letter outlining how they will contribute to equity and inclusion initiatives across state government. Application materials must be emailed to DEIDirector@governor.virginia.gov by May 1, 2020.

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