Diverse Sandy Springs task force will work on ways to make minorities feel included

Credit: Branden Camp

Credit: Branden Camp

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul asked a diverse group of 10 to serve on a task force to help mend the divide he said is felt by residents of color.

Last summer, the city held 44 virtual discussions on race with groups of 6 to 10 people. Paul said he’s committed to addressing the primary message that came out of those conversations: That residents of color don’t feel included in the community at large.

Minority residents make up nearly 47% of the city’s population.

During a Tuesday City Council meeting, Paul announced the new Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which includes several African American and Hispanic members.

James Bostic Jr. will serve as chairman. Bostic is a former Georgia-Pacific Corporation executive and served on former President Bill Clinton’s Commission on White House Fellowships.

Other members include Jose Osorio, assistant principal at Lake Forest Elementary School and a founding member of the Latino Association for Parents of Public Schools; Rabbi Joshua Heller of Congregation B’nai Torah; Nicole Morris, a professor at Emory University School of Law; Sal Ortega, public information officer for the Sandy Springs Police Department; Olivia Rocamora, the Spanish Department chair and Spanish Immersion Program coordinator at The Weber School; Desmond X. Curry, a billing specialist at Rubin Lublin; Sandy Springs City Clerk Raquel Gonzalez; Rev. Dr. Bill Murray, a rector at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church; and Clarissa Sparks, a brand specialist and instructor for Cornell University’s Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship.

Paul said he’s asked the task force to reach out to residents to learn not only why residents of color feel unwelcome in Sandy Springs, but what the city can do to make them an integral part of the community. The task force will report their findings periodically to the mayor, he said.

“What are the factors that are causing people not to feel included and involved and wanted and appreciated? " Paul asked council members. “If we had the answers to that question, we (would’ve) already solved it. So they’ve got to ask a lot of questions to get us there.”