SLO City Council appoints diversity task force members

Protest Organizer Tianna Arata, Mayor Heidi Harmon, Cal Poly quarterback Jalen Hamler, and Cal Poly wide receiver Xavier Moore

The San Luis Obispo City Council on Tuesday appointed 13 people to serve as members of the City’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force.

In response to protests over the death of George Floyd, the City Council appropriated $160,000 towards racial equality. The City Council then agreed to create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force as part of a wider effort to help make the city “an inclusive and safe community for everyone, and to promote belonging, free thought and speech, while condemning racism, hate speech, bigotry, violence, and prejudice.”

More than 90 community members applied to serve on the task force. The Task Force includes nine San Luis Obispo residents and four people from the surrounding communities.

Task Force appointees

Amman Fasil Asfaw: Leader Black Student Life, Cal Poly

Dusty Colyer-Worth: SLO Chamber of Commerce, GALA member

Erica A. Stewart: SLO City Council representative

Jenell Navarro: Chair of Ethnic Studies, Cal Poly

Katherine Soule: GALA Board of Directors

Michael Boyer: Founder Diversity Coalition of SLO County

M’Lynn Martin: Black youth leader, youth minister

Matthew Melendrez: Lenses DE&I Institute

Maxine Kozler Koven: Director of LDR Ventures

Oscar Velasco-Vargas: Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success

Noha Kolkailah: Teacher SLO High School

Renoda Campbell: HRC representative

Vanessa Parsons: Teacher and Equity Team Member

The initial Task Force will be in place through Jan. 2021. The specific charter of the Task Force is as follows:

  • Focus on activities that support marginalized racial, ethnic, and cultural groups.
  • Collect information and insight about advancing DE&I in San Luis Obispo.
  • Develop a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) to support the DE&I work of proven organizations and best practices for change.
  • Provide guidance and a foundation for creating a potential 2021-23 DE&I-focused Major City Goal.
  • Strengthen the focus and role of the City’s Human Relations Commission (HRC) to support the City’s vision.

“The work of the Task Force will complement our continued efforts in San Luis Obispo to create and sustain an environment that promotes diversity and inclusion, prioritizes equity and fairness, and helps our community move forward,” said City Manager Derek Johnson. “I am confident these community members will bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to move San Luis Obispo to a place where everyone feels they can be their whole identity and have a true sense of belonging.”