Racial Equity and Social Justice

Achieve racial equity in County service provision and ensure a workforce reflective of the community we serve.

Goal 3, Objective 1

Establish a racial equity analysis tool by 2022 for departments to use for internal decision-making, policy decisions and implementation, and service delivery.
On Track 40%

Updated: January 2023

Summary of Objective Implementation Status

The Government Alliance on Race and Equity, or GARE, states that a racial equity tool shall:

  • identify clear goals, objectives and measurable outcomes;
  • engage community in decision-making processes;
  • identify who will benefit or be burdened by a given decision, examine potential unintended consequences of a decision, and develop strategies to advance racial equity and mitigate unintended negative consequences; and
  • develop mechanisms for successful implementation and evaluation of impact.

The Office of Equity has recommended the use of a basic race equity tool that asks the following questions when analyzing policy:

  1. Proposal: What is the policy, program, practice or budget decision under consideration? What are the desired results and outcomes?
  2. Data: What’s the data? What does the data tell us?
  3. Community engagement: How have communities been engaged? Are there opportunities to expand engagement?
  4. Analysis and strategies: Who will benefit from or be burdened by your proposal? What are your strategies for advancing racial equity or mitigating unintended consequences?
  5. Implementation: What is your plan for implementation?
  6. Accountability and communication: How will you ensure accountability, communicate, and evaluate results?

Customization can take place if needed to ensure that it is most relevant to our local conditions, but

GARE cautions that there is a risk that there will be a significant investment of time, and potentially money, in a lengthy process of customization without experience. It is through the implementation and the experience of learning that leaders and staff will gain experience with use of a tool.

The OoE reviewed significant Board items in 2021 and 2022 and provided a recommendation on which should receive a race equity analysis; however, implementation of those recommendations was not tracked. It has not always been the case that departments have conducted the analysis, reached out during the course of their analysis, or included the results of the analysis in their Board items. The Office of Equity has not yet reviewed significant Board items proposed for 2023 to be able to recommend a race equity analysis on specific items.

It is the OoE’s recommendation that, prior to the attempting to complete a race equity analysis on a significant Board item, staff should receive a foundational race equity training. As that offering is still in development, it may be premature to expect these analyses to be completed, unless there is significant support from a Core Team member who has received that foundational training to assist. In addition, the OoE currently lacks the capacity to support a department with race equity data assistance, though the OoE has a pending request for a Program, Planning, and Evaluation Analyst to support this work with selected departments.

Proposed implementation steps include:

  1. Ensuring each CAO departmental analyst has received the Race Equity 101 training when it is available. (OoE)
  2. Requiring the use of the race equity tool in each significant Board item. (CAO)
  3. Securing Office of Equity support or Core Team members support in conducting the analysis. (CAO)
  4. Monitoring the completion of the analysis. (CAO)
  5. Ensuring the Office of Equity has engaged in a review. (CAO/OoE)
  6. Including the analysis in the Board item summary. (CAO)
  7. Preparing our Board to ask the simple racial equity tool questions, such as “How does this decision help or hinder racial equity?” or “Who benefits from or is burdened by this decision?” on a routine basis to put theory into action. (CAO/OoE)

Key Milestone Update

The CAO has shared that six race equity analyses have been completed since November, 2020. The Office of Equity has requested to receive all 6 to analyze their consistency and to provide recommendations to support future efforts.

Coordination and Partnership Update

The Equity Core Team currently includes the Upstream Investment team. The recent partnership between the Office of Equity and HSD to ensure equitable allocation of ARPA resources also supports the deepening the connections between the two departments. By using a race equity tool, applying anti-racist principles, and Results Based Accountability, this partnership provides an opportunity for a full and powerful application of a race equity tool in decision-making and measurement of effectiveness and reach of investments into disproportionately impacted communities of color. This work, however, is not supported outside of the ARPA process, and the Racial Equity and Social Justice Data Analyst and the Community Engagement Analyst are time-limited to June, 2025.

Community, Equity, and Climate Update

By engaging anti-racist principles in data-driven decision making, we are embedding equity into the day to day work of the County of Sonoma.

The creation of the ARPA Equity Work Group and the application of Anti-Racist Results Based Accountability will also ensure community engagement in the process of equitable distribution of ARPA funds to community based organizations to serve disproportionately impacted communities of color.

Funding Narrative

This ARPA implementation effort is fully funded; however, those two positions are time-limited and do not work outside of the Community Resilience Program to support longer-term County-wide efforts.

The recently formed Steering Committee will undertake the creation of a Racial Equity Action Plan. The Core Team Steering Committee will act as a group of strategic leaders that will support relevant work such as the implementation of several goals and objectives of the Racial Equity and Social Justice (RESJ) Pillar of the County’s Strategic Plan through the creation of a Racial Equity Action Plan (REAP).  According to the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE)   , “Racial Equity Action Plans can lay out the approach to operationalizing” jurisdictions’ commitments toward racial equity. In this case, the REAP will create a roadmap to achieving “meaningful and measurable results” articulated in the RESJ pillar of the County’s Strategic Plan and will include other strategies identified by Steering Committee members, including the use of a racial equity toolkit or impact analysis for significant policy or resource allocation decisions.

The creation of a REAP, with the leadership of the Core Team Steering Committee and the support and involvement of all County departments, is critical to ensuring that the responsibilities to embed racial equity across our government process and actions is clearly articulated so as to ensure those responsibilities are shared across all departments to positively impact communities of color across County service provision and employment opportunities.

On February 1, 2022, the OOE received $240,000 in Strategic Plan funding over 3 years for this effort and entered into an agreement with Equity First Consulting, LLC on June 13, 2022 to support the work needed to advance equity initiatives across all departments through the creation of a REAP.

Since then, the consultant has supported the OOE in designing a process to select Core Team Steering Committee members, who will be leading the creation of the Racial Equity Action Plan. Through an anti-racist approach, participants submitted applications sharing information about the level of support they receive in their department, the different skills and lived experiences relevant to this leadership role, learning experiences in the changing roles they have had as equity champions, as well as ideas to effectively embed racial equity across County service provision.  The OOE relied on an Advisory Committee made up of Core Team members to provide recommendations as to the best configuration for this leadership group as they were making the selection. Ultimately, 13 members were selected for the Steering Committee presented below in alphabetical order:

  • Anna Yip – County Administrator’s Office
  • Audrianna Jones – Community Development Commission
  • Christel Querijero – County Administrator’s Office
  • Denia Candela – Department of Health Services
  • Josephine McKay – Human Services Department
  • Lauren Reed – Department of Health Services
  • Leslie Lew – Ag and Open Space
  • Michelle Revecho – Human Services Department
  • Nora Mallonee-Brand – Department of Health Services
  • Oscar Chavez – Human Services Department
  • Ryan Pedrotti – Sonoma Water
  • Shawntel Reece – Human Services Department
  • Victoria Willard – Human Resources

Steering Committee members represent the Office of Equity, and demonstrate the curiosity, humility, and focus on healing necessary to successfully operationalize equity principles at the County. Steering Committee members will have a demonstrated commitment to and investment in equity work, the capacity to dedicate time to the work, and the ability to connect their role in the Steering Committee to the responsibilities of their day-to-day work in their departments.

The group will take part in hands-on professional development and leadership training opportunities where they will continue to learn, practice, and contribute to building an authentic community that is centered on anti-racism. Steering Committee members will serve for a minimum of 12 months, and can expect to spend 4 hours per week on work related to racial equity for the Core Team or Steering Committee. These leaders, supported by Equity First Consulting,  will take the first steps towards the creation of the Racial Equity Action Plan, beginning in January 2023.