Sandy Springs moves to send positive message on diversity and inclusion

Sandy Springs hosted 44 group discussions on the topic of race and whether residents of color feel included in the community. The conversations, titled Inclusion and Belonging, included 6-10 people in discussion on the Civic Dinners platform. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Credit: Jason Getz

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Sandy Springs hosted 44 group discussions on the topic of race and whether residents of color feel included in the community. The conversations, titled Inclusion and Belonging, included 6-10 people in discussion on the Civic Dinners platform. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Sandy Springs plans to follow through on residents' calls for more conversations on race. The city will also form a diversity and inclusion committee that includes residents and staff, officials said.

Mayor Rusty Paul said virtual conversations on race hosted by the city during the summer were not a one-time event. The city is already planning for more public discussions, some possibly in person, he said during a Tuesday meeting.

“That’s the only way you can get better,” he said. “You can’t fix challenges unless you’re willing to discuss them and discuss them frankly and realistically and bring all the players to the table.”

Sandy Springs hosted 44 group discussions on the topic of race and whether residents of color feel included in the community. The conversations, titled Inclusion and Belonging, included 6-10 people in discussions on the Civic Dinners video platform.

Communications Director Sharon Kraun said 341 participants attended overall and three dinners were held entirely in Spanish.

During a presentation to City Council, Kraun said participants want more diversity in city leadership and programming as a part of all types of city events, ranging from the citizens police academy to entertainment at the Performing Arts Center.

Kraun said the city will connect with underserved neighborhoods through programs such as Citizens and Patrol, and the citizens police academy. There’s also a plan to build a network of mentors for women and minorities to highlight the diversity of businesses in Sandy Springs, she said.

Later in the meeting, Paul pointed out a step the city has taken with recent appointments on the Sandy Springs Development Authority board. Following the upcoming appointment of local businessman Ed Ukaonu, 43% of the board’s members will be minorities, Paul said.

“I think it sends a great signal to our community that we are taking seriously not only diversity of community but the inclusion as well,” Paul said.

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