Dante James, Portland’s Equity Director May Temporarily Work for Oakland

Andrew Theen, Oregon Live, October 20, 2015

Dante James, Portland’s top equity leader and one of the city’s highest paid employees, may temporarily work for the city of Oakland, California.

James, the Office of Equity and Human Rights director, has been talking for months with the Bay Area city, which approved creating an equity office this summer.

Oakland’s City Council must still approve the “loaned executive” deal, which could happen as soon as next week.

James, 57, would help Oakland set up the program and advise the city as it hires a director.

James and Mayor Charlie Hales’ staff say the unusual situation would be a win-win: James would spread the best practices of Portland’s racial equity program to a West Coast city, and Oakland would pay James’ salary as long as he works there.

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James, who earns $147,534 a year, won’t take a leave. Judith Mowry, his senior policy adviser, would handle his duties.

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Josh Alpert, Hales’ chief of staff, called the proposal a big compliment for Portland. “We wanted to afford him the opportunity to spread the work that he’s doing,” Alpert said.

Portland hired James in 2012 to lead the newly created equity office. His small staff promotes discussion of institutionalized racism in government and proposes strategies to acknowledge those issues and reduce barriers and disparities across the city.

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