Editor’s note: The original story which contained an error, has been corrected. For other decisions made by the Commission, please read this story on the meeting.

The city is looking to hire a Manager of Organizational Performance and Equity to develop racial equity strategies. 

The Racial Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee (REDI) shared the draft of the job description during its presentation for the Equity and Empowerment Commission’s Thursday, Nov. 17 meeting.

REDI is a committee of volunteers that have been working in the city’s internal environment to improve racial equity for nearly two years. It helped the city draft the job description for the Manager of Organizational Performance and Equity position.

Stowe plans to meet with REDI on Monday to discuss the equity manager position further. Stowe said he didn’t want to comment on the equity manager position until after that meeting. But said he planned to post the job, Nov. 28.

Black city employees report on workplace racism

The decision to fill this position couldn’t be more timely. 

Dr. Kathleen Yang-Clayton is a part of the REDI leadership team. She explained that a recent letter from a group of Black city employees outlining racism and discrimination in the workplace added a layer of urgency to creating this position. 

Dr. Kathleen Yang-Clayton, Evanston volunteer on the city’s Racial Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee and UIC’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Credit: University of Illinois Chicago

“We need this position to be able to pay attention to the detail and make sure that the bright Northstar of equity and inclusion is implemented inside the city,” Yang-Clayton said.

An anonymous group called the City of Evanston Black Employees Action Group presented a 39-page letter, report and action plan to the city outlining more than 60 examples of alleged racial discrimination through out the city’s 11 departments.

The Manager of Organizational Performance and Equity will serve as the city’s “principal advisor” on all topics related to racial equity in the workplace and collaborate with the city’s Human Resources Department and the city manager’s executive leadership team “to employ strategies to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion in recruitment, retention, promotion, and compensation,” according to the draft of the position description.

REDI will work with the Manager of Organizational Performance and Equity to create programs and services as well as host events that inch the city closer to achieving its equity goals.

The committee shared the draft of the job description before it was finalized to gather the commission’s opinions.

Racial equity is part of everyone’s job

The report and the job description also inspired a passionate discussion about racial inequality within the city during the EEC meeting with the Commissioners expressing concern about the new managerial role representing all of the city’s racial equity work.

“My concern remains with making sure that in this job description, we are not giving the city leadership a pass,” Co-Chairperson Karla Thomas said. “That we’re not sending a message that it is the principal job of the equity person to come out here and sprinkle equity dust and solve the problem.”

Black city employees report racism in the workplace

Commissioner Omar Salem echoed the same sentiment, worrying that other managers will think racial equity isn’t part of their jobs.

“It really just needs to be part of every single person, especially managers, job,” Salem said in reference to racial equity. “I worry we make it easy for other managers to disengage.”

The Manager of Organizational Performance and Equity works under the direction of the city manager and will be juggling many tasks. They include: Coordinating and administering racial equity training for staff, advising the city’s boards and commissions regarding diversity, racial equity and inclusion and reviewing city policies and procedures. 

On top of that, the position will establish ways “to integrate racial equity into all organizational planning processes and practices, including developing and presenting research, identifying key indicators and performance measures.”

The position requires the person hired to have a minimum of five years of racial equity work and a bachelor’s degree in the following fields: human resources management, organizational development, industrial/organizational psychology, psychology, sociology, social work, business administration or a related field. A combination of education and related work experience is permissible.

Previously, the city had an Equity and Empowerment Coordinator, who worked within the city manager’s office. Dr. Patricia Efiom held the position from 2017 to 2020. Efiom, who died in 2021, developed an equity plan for the city and also was instrumental in developing the city’s Reparations Program.

Gina Castro

Gina Castro is a Racial Justice fellow for the Evanston RoundTable. She recently earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she studied investigative...

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  1. Efiom was set up for failure by then city manager Wally. Just as former chief Cook was set up for failure by Wally and Eddington. I hope this position will have staff and resources to actually make things happen in City government.

  2. FYI Efiom quit the city in 2020 and died in September 2021. After she quit the city she set up her on consultancy and had contracts with the community in Washington where Bobkewicz was hired as well as Ridgeville Park District.

    It is also inaccurate to say “She established the city’s Equity and Empowerment Commission. ” A commission can only be established by a vote of City Council. She was staff liaison to the commission.