In June 2023, nearly 500 government workers in California gathered to connect, collaborate, and celebrate the groundbreaking racial equity work happening across the state at the local, regional, and state government level. Governing for All: California Statewide Meeting to Advance Racial Equity was hosted in Oakland, CA by the Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE), State of Equity, and PolicyLink. Over the course of the 3-day conference, participants focused on themes of alignment and collaboration between all levels of government; culture, creativity, and healing; and the power of collective strength. Nationally, this was the largest regional/statewide racial equity convening yet- and is a testament to the progress and commitment California has made to becoming a racially equitable state.   Over 100 of the conference attendees were state workers, many of whom have participated in State of Equity’s Capitol Collaborative on Race & Equity (CCORE). We have heard many reflections on the value of the connections that were made during the event, including between state and local jurisdictions. 

Highlights included:  State of Equity’s Lianne Dillon hosted the opening plenary session: State of State: California’s Past, Present, and Future, which was a thought-provoking and inspirational panel that featured four key CCORE leaders: Moisés Moreno-Rivera, Deputy Secretary for Environmental Justice, Tribal Affairs and Border Relations, California Environmental Protection Agency; Tanisha Taylor, Executive Director, California Transportation Commission; Brenda Crowding, Deputy Director of the Office of Internal Affairs (retired), California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation; Noaki Schwartz, Deputy Secretary for Equity and Environmental Justice, California Natural Resources Agency. Panelists spoke to the value of CCORE for their racial equity leadership and shared examples of the racial equity journey within their organizations and outcomes stemming from their training. (Learn more about CCORE here)

Left to Right: Lianne Dillon, State of Equity; Moisés Moreno-Rivera, California Environmental Protection Agency; Tanisha Taylor, California Transportation Commission; Brenda Crowding (retired), California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation; Noaki Schwartz, California Natural Resources Agency.

State of Equity’s Giovianna Burrell and Kimberlee Archie from ExperienceWELLTH co-facilitated a session that was in such hot demand that it was moved from a break-out room to the main stage to accommodate the high level of interest. The session, On the Journey to WELLTH (Wellness + Health), offered somatic & self-care focused conversations for racial equity practitioners. This session is aligned with the offerings of our latest CCORE training offering, the Transformative Leadership Cohort (TLC), which launches in the Fall of 2023 and will center Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in learning, peer-exchange, and support as they grow in their capacity to advance racial equity in state government (Learn more about TLC here).  

ExperienceWEALLTH’s Kimberlee Archie (left) and State of Equity’s Giovianna Burrell (right) facilitated somatic and embodied practices for racial equity practitioners to sustain and preserve themselves as they pursue liberatory journeys.

State of Equity and O&G Racial Equity Collaborative explored the intentional steps necessary to create an effective organizational relationship that, by design, can support institutions in dismantling racism through policy and practice. The two partner organizations co-hosted Power in Authentic and Transparent Partnership: Development to Advance Racial Equity, in which they used their own struggles and learnings to explore what transformational relationships look like, what can go wrong, and how healing and repair can be used to keep moving forward with integrity. 

Left to right: O&G Racial Equity Collaborative’s Kimberlee Archie & Ariel Guerrero, and State of Equity’s Dalila Madison Almquist & Lianne Dillon facilitated large and small group exploration of the role and value of transformational partnerships in advancing racial equity at the June 2023 GARE CA Convening.

State of Equity and consultant Maria Barakat co-hosted a roundtable conversation to explore key needs and activities that jurisdictions are employing as they advance frameworks for racial equity focused budgets. The session opened with an overview of the recently released Racial Equity Policy & Budget Framework for California Research Findings (2023) which recommends 1) requiring a Racial Equity Budget Tool as part of an enhanced state government budget process, and 2) establishing a resourced, dedicated Racial Equity Office to coordinate efforts, build capacity, and ensure continuity, accountability, and sustainability across all of state government in alignment with a reparations lens.  

Maria Barakat, author of Racial Equity Policy & Budget Framework for California Research Findings, facilitates a conversation with practitioners at the GARE CA Convening, exploring findings and needs to support budgeting for racial equity.

As we integrate all we learned from the convening into our ongoing work, we are inspired by this challenge offered by Glenn Harris, President of Race Forward: “I am a citizen of a country that doesn’t exist yet. What will it take to build a just multi-racial democracy?” We do this work alongside so many of your racial equity practitioners and leaders – and we intend to be part of the answer.  A message from the State of Equity staff team: Being in space with racial equity practitioners from across California was inspiring and necessary. Thank you to those of you that made time to say hello and kudos to our partners at GARE, Race Forward, PolicyLink, and O&G Racial Equity Collaborative for a transformative and enriching time in Oakland, CA.