09-24-2023  12:00 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 23 August 2023

The Oregon Futures Lab (OFL) released today "Our Ambassadors: Oregon’s BIPOC Former Electeds Focus Group Report,” a new report that sheds light on the experiences and challenges faced by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) leaders who have served as elected officials across the state of Oregon.

With generous support from The Cake Sherwood Fund of Oregon Community Foundation and Ann J. and William Swindells Fund of Oregon Community Foundation, OFL hosted virtual focus groups with a total of nine BIPOC former elected officials whose elected positions varied from school board to confederated tribes council to county-level leadership and represented six different counties and reservations across the state. Through these focus groups, OFL gained a deeper understanding of the realities of public service for BIPOC elected officials. Key findings from the focus groups included:

  • Participants felt they were not adequately informed when they began their leadership career and entered into governance.
  • Participants felt that BIPOC staffers are vital to their success and that hiring BIPOC staffers is challenging.
  • Participants emphasized that the public safety and mental health of BIPOC candidates, elected and former elected officials needs to be a greater priority.
  • Participants felt that they did not receive transparent information about the true costs (physical, intellectual, emotional, social and financial) associated with public leadership.

Based on these key findings, OFL also formulated several recommendations to support BIPOC leaders and create a more inclusive and empowering environment.

Erin Kothari, executive director of the Oregon Futures Lab (OFL) said: “As these focus groups made clear, in many ways, our current political systems are still stacked against the success of BIPOC leaders. When BIPOC leaders step forward with the courage and the determination to lead, we owe it to them to ensure that they feel equipped, supported, and protected as they serve their communities. We hope this report can serve as a call to action for stakeholders across the state to come together to create a more nurturing and equitable political landscape that allows diverse voices to thrive for the betterment of our communities.”

Read the full report here.

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