Gare First Meeting (1)

The GARE group had their first meeting on Feb. 20.

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Office of Public and Employee Communications

While CDCR requires annual Diversity in the Workplace training, the department is delving even deeper into creating a positive, accepting, diverse workforce through an innovative pilot program.

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Dr. Dawnté R. Early, Research Scientist III, Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health, is one of the volunteer members of the racial equity group.

The Capitol Cohort Pilot for Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE) has selected key individuals in the department to gather information and craft ways to diversify the workforce.

Undersecretary Ralph Diaz said the CDCR team has a great opportunity to improve the overall department.

“I look forward to having an opportunity to dialogue regarding how I hope this effort can contribute to the diversity and excellence of our workforce as it pertains to race, gender and sexual orientation,” he said.

The first session was held Jan. 24 and GARE is slated to run through Nov. 9.

GARE seeks to clearly define racial equity, analyze policies from this perspective and craft a plan for long-term racial equity in the workforce.

In a joint memo signed by CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan and Receiver J. Clark Kelso, they outlined the broader strategy.

“It is our firm belief that, partnered with our current recruitment, hiring and succession management strategies, this initiative will contribute to the diversity and excellence of our workforce,” the memo stated.

Nolice Edwards, the Chief of the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights & Services, was selected to serve on the GARE team. All of those selected volunteered for the duty.

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Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Service Chief Nolice Edwards said the group will be looking at various ways to diversify the workforce.

“Achieving racial equity in government or any organization is vital to the successful creation of policies/procedures that promote fair and equitable opportunities. Much has been done over the years to address racial inequality however, we continue to struggle with disparities in today’s environment,” she said. “Participating in GARE will provide me the opportunity to provide perspective on this issue as a woman and a woman of color. It’s important to be actively involved with other CDCR colleagues to have an impact on the development of policy/procedures – both short and long-term – to address this issue. I also believe that having the opportunity  to network with a cohort of other state agencies is important. Although each agency will develop a plan that is specific to them, those plans will be based upon the cohesive goals developed specifically from our participation in GARE and will be specific to addressing issues that are relevant to state government.”

Edwards said she hopes to gain different perspectives on the issues.

“Addressing the issue of racial equity or inequity has a different meaning for a variety of reasons depending upon one’s ethnicity, background and/or life’s experiences. As such, conversations on this issue can often be uncomfortable, sensitive and sometimes political. By participating in GARE, I hope to come away with a better

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Undersecretary Ralph Diaz spoke during the first meeting.

understanding of how to have such conversations within CDCR,” she said. “Additionally I hope to achieve useful tools collectively with my colleagues to address changes – systemic and cultural – within the department and assist with the development of a strategic plan that moves the department forward.”

She doesn’t expect it to be a fast process.

“For a department as large and diverse as CDCR, I do not expect that this issue will be addressed completely this year with our participation in GARE,” Edwards said. “I do however, hope we develop a plan that we can build upon and utilize over the next several years.”

GARE participants

  • Dawnte Early, Research Scientist III, CCJBH/CDCR
  • Connie Gipson, Deputy Director, DAI
  • Emma Regidor, EEO Attorney, Office of Legal Affairs
  • Tammy Foss, Chief Deputy Warden, HDSP
  • Preetika Nand-Lal, Attorney III, CCHCS
  • Stefanie Kane, C&PR, SATF
  • Raul Recarey, CEO, CHCF
  • Linda Bridges, Superintendent, Division of Juvenile Justice
  • Carmen-Nicole Cox, Chief, Office of Legislation
  • Sarah Larson, SSM III, Budget Management Branch
  • Jeffrey Gaskin, CCIII, CCHCS, Corrections Services
  • Thy Vuong, Special Assistant to the General Manager, PIA
  • Traci Patterson, CSE, Mule Creek State Prison
  • Fergus Leckie, Captain, CSP-Sacramento
  • Nolice Edwards, Chief, OVSRS

Learn more about the program, http://www.racialequityalliance.org/

(Some websites may not be accessible from a CDCR computer.)

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The first meeting of GARE was Feb. 20.