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Fostering Leadership in San Diego County

An unending challenge of democracy is the unequal distribution of representation, influence, and power. Communities of color, women, and LGBT populations have historically been underrepresented in elective office and appointed positions.

Demographic shifts in San Diego, including increasing numbers and diversity of refugee communities, have added other population groups to the patchwork of underrepresented communities. Changes in the region’s leadership do not keep pace with the change in demographics.

CPI Report

A report from the Center on Policy Initiatives illustrates these discrepancies as they affect communities of color: “San Diego’s demographic shift has not only been rapid, but has included a patchwork of historically underrepresented communities and groups (Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, LGBT, women, and ‘new Americans,’ including San Diego’s increasing refugee communities).

Nonetheless, changes to San Diego’s leaders have remained, more or less, the same; with a few exceptions […] People of color are largely underrepresented in elective office despite being a majority of the population in San Diego County.

The Data

An assessment conducted in early 2012 found that, although 52% of the County’s population was comprised of people of color, only around 23% of elected officials were people of color. In order for San Diego to be responsive to and reflective of this new generation of San Diegans, the profile of San Diego’s elected and appointed leaders must change, as well.”

San Diego County Population

  • 52% People of Color
  • 48% Caucasian

San Diego County Elected Officials

  • 23% People of Color
  • 77% Cacausian

On October 28, 2014, San Diego Grantmakers through its Social Equity Funders table convened key leadership development organizations in San Diego County to participate in a series of convening’s to build a collaborative and networked leadership development system. This effort is being called the Leadership Development Project.

The goal of the project is to empower leaders in underrepresented communities to advance social justice policy agendas and achieve positions of influence with interconnected countywide leadership development resources that focus upon increasing the power of historically underrepresented communities, with a priority focus on racial/ethnic groups that too often have been without representation.