An Ogden diversity commission has been in the works for three years and now is coming into fruition.
Applicants for the commission seats are currently under review, and the commission is expected to be finalized and hold its first session in the early months of next year, according Viviana Felix, Diversity Affairs Officer at Ogden City.
Felix is a WSU alumna and will oversee the commission, helping them with projects and being the communication piece between the city and the commission.
They will hold open sessions once a month for citizens to come express grievances and issues, somewhat like city council meetings. But unlike city council, the diversity commissioners are not elected officials — they are members of the community and serve as “more of a relatable role,” according to Felix. The diversity commission then presents its findings to the mayor and city council.
The idea of the diversity commission started with a conversation between Ogden City’s Council Executive Director, Bill Cook, and Weber State’s Chief Diversity Officer, Adrienne Andrews.
Ogden City had a multicultural council in the past, but it “became non-functioning,” said Andrews.
Andrews and Cook found a real need for the commission when they surveyed Ogden community groups, like LGBT, Hispanic, African-American and Asian communities, to name a few. The need to improve relations with these communities was evident from their research. From there, monthly meetings started, open to members of the Ogden community, and they involved various groups and people.
Lydia Hunter, a librarian at the Weber County Library Main Branch, attended the meetings. She said they involved over 150 people.
“It was really heartening for me to see that representation in Ogden,” said Hunter.
Hunter is now on the selection committee for the diversity commissioners. As a librarian, she meets all kinds of people and recognizes the importance of the commission.
“This is local. … This is at a level where any person, any citizen who cares about the community … can make a difference and have a huge impact,” said Hunter.
The commission’s main goal is to establish trust and make sure voices are heard, said Felix.
“The commission is intended to create a space for people who usually feel marginalized, excluded or don’t feel like their voice is heard. They have a space where they can vocalize this. The commission would be responsible for these items that come up … and find a way to resolve the issue to make Ogden a more welcoming and lovable place for everyone,” said Felix.
“We want to create unity. It’s important that these groups can have a bigger role in communicating in city government,” said Felix.
“This is not just one or two people saying something should happen, it was a collective action, and it was worked through consensus building model, and I can’t wait to see what happens next,” said Andrews.