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. 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. 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.”
The What: Project Goal
Empower leaders in under-represented communities to advance social justice policy agendas and achieve positions of influence.