The City of Huntsville’s Office of Multicultural Affairs is getting a big makeover in 2021.
Established by Mayor Tommy Battle 12 years ago, the office that serves as the administration’s point of contact for diverse races and cultures within the City limits will soon be restructured to the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (ODEI).
Mayor Battle announced the change in October during his annual State of the City address, where he said the City will expand staff and programs to better represent the needs and goals of our growing community.
“We want to engage in dialogue to ensure we are doing everything we can to be a more just and equitable city,” he said. “By restructuring Multicultural Affairs to the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, we can continue that important conversation and take steps toward building a more inclusive community for all.”
Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Multicultural Affairs Officer Kenny Anderson, who joined the City of Huntsville in 2013, is working with administration to make the transition to ODEI as seamless as possible.
As we approach the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday, Anderson said the restructuring is an affirmation that the City of Huntsville recognizes the importance of creating a community where all people feel valued and heard.
“There are people who may have been traditionally marginalized, underrepresented – we know we have the responsibility to make sure that they are heard, to make sure that they are represented, and to make sure they are participating in the experience of community,” he said. “It is my role largely to provide an opportunity for them to be heard and to have a seat at the table so that they can be affirmed and we can find intersects through which we can work together.”
As Anderson reviews best practices regarding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), he will work to identify gaps where the City can better meet the needs of its citizens.
The behind-the-scenes work happening now will help shape what ODEI becomes later.
Moving in the right direction
“The administrative team has been meeting regularly to develop a strategic approach to this process and I believe we are moving in the right direction,” Anderson said.
Hoping to deliver a clearer vision for ODEI to City Council later this month, Anderson welcomes feedback on how the City should move forward with the office.
“Anybody who wants to sit down and talk with me about something – to share concerns with me – is encouraged to reach out,” he said. “I can’t always answer a question. I can’t always solve a problem or issue, but I will do my best to bring some level of satisfaction to people. I welcome participation from anyone who thinks they have an answer, a solution, and wants to work together to build a strong community.”
To start the conversation, please email Kenny Anderson at Kenny.Anderson@HuntsvilleAL.gov.
More information about Multicultural Affairs is available on the City’s website.