During my first State of the County address last month, I outlined four “E”s that are defining principles of the new administration we are building: a sharp focus on equity; economic opportunities; engagement including input from everyone; and environmental investments.
This week, during Black History Month, I’m very proud to announce an important step forward to delivering on the first three priorities – equity, economic opportunities, and engagement – with the official launch of Miami-Dade's first Office of Equity and Inclusion in a press event at the Historic Hampton House.
Creating this office was an action I pledged to take in my first 100 days as Mayor. I’m thrilled to bring onboard a phenomenal team that will work alongside me to shake up the status quo and make meaningful, measurable change in expanding opportunities for all Miami-Dade businesses and families.
Under the leadership of our new Director of Equity and Inclusion, Jason Smith – previously Legislative Director during my tenure as county commissioner – the office will work across County departments and collaborate with community stakeholders, to normalize and implement the principles of equity and inclusion in government and beyond.
Equity doesn’t mean equality. Equity means doubling down on investments in communities that have been historically disenfranchised and underserved.
This means a focus on racial equity, as well as expanding access and economic opportunity to all groups who have not been on a level playing field – including women, the LGTBQ+ community, and people with disabilities.
This work must be supported by a team with the expertise to measure our performance and progress to create accountability, and the resources to build programs that support and strengthen our small business ecosystem.
We worked hard to model the Office of Equity and Inclusion team – housed under the Senior Advisor for Innovation and Performance, Rahel Weldeyesus – on successful examples and best practices from across the country.
The Office’s Director of Performance and Analytics, Cheriene Floyd, will leverage the power of data to develop and measure inclusive policies, creating a central dashboard and other tools to track equity metrics.
Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy. Especially as we emerge from the pandemic, we must ensure all small business owners have the tools to build back better and fully participate in the new economy. Our Small Business Innovation Manager, Danilo Vargas, will lead this charge by developing a capacity-building plan for growing entrepreneurship with an emphasis on equity. Danilo will help bring to life a program I’ve pledged to create based on successes with this model in District 8 – designing and implementing a countywide network of small business accelerators and incubators.
Anna Etienne, Special Advisor on Entrepreneurship, will act as a bridge between the FIU Office of Innovation and the Mayor’s Office to pursue new partnerships and funding to build a more resilient, diverse small business community.
Equity is not just a finite list of programs and initiatives. It’s a sustained, systemic approach to governance. And it must be a team effort – we need direct engagement to bring government closer to the people it serves.
The Office is creating internal and external advisory boards and will host regular convenings to bring in policy recommendations from the community.
And last week, I launched a historic civic engagement campaign, Thrive305, to seek input directly from our residents to inform my priorities and policies. Through a countywide survey and engagement events, we will make sure diverse voices from across Miami-Dade are uplifted.
Learn more and take the survey at thrive305.org. With your ideas and voices at the table, we will build a more equitable, inclusive economy where all Miami-Dade families can prosper.