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City of Portland to hire equity director

The city is creating an entire department at the suggestion of the Racial Equity Steering Committee.

PORTLAND, Maine — The city of Portland is hiring a special new position that will be charged with making sure the city operates to benefit all residents. 

Portland is creating an Office of Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and is actively searching for a director. The city council decided to make the move at the suggestion of the city's Racial Equity Steering Committee, which met between September 2020 and April 2021. 

The new position will advise the city manager on those issues and propose ways the city can improve. The listed salary is expected to be offered between $103,000 and $127,000. 

Interim City Manager Danielle West said it comes with the responsibility of getting a new department off the ground and to begin making a difference in the lives of marginalized groups in the city.

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"I’ll be really looking for a lot of guidance on ways in which we can do a better job of how we’re dealing with various issues," West said. "And making sure that we always do it through a lens of looking at diversity, equity, and inclusion concepts."

The job listing states requirements include a bachelor’s degree in organizational development, counseling, human resources or a related field, with a master's degree preferred; as well as a preferred five to eight years of "progressively responsible related experience, two of which are in managerial capacity."

Pious Ali sits on the city council, and was part of the steering committee. He believes Portland is in a good place, but needs someone making sure it’s still moving in the right direction.

"Nobody is expecting them to make changes or to make improvements overnight," Ali said. "We know that it took us more than two-to-300 years to get where we are. It’s not gonna change overnight."

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So then, West and the council will take their time finding the right person for the job. The opening was posted on August 19 and West said she hopes to announce a hire within four to six months.

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