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County of Santa Clara Creates New Office to Address Systemic Inequities that Negatively Impact Historically Marginalized Communities

The new Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer will collaborate and partner with County departments to integrate values of diversity, equity, and belonging into their operations

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— The County of Santa Clara has created a new office to build organizational capacity to address systemic inequities that contribute to poor outcomes for historically marginalized communities. Dr. Analilia García, who is trained in public health and has built a career championing social justice, started today as Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, and will lead the newly created Office of Equity, Diversity and Belonging.

“We’re fully dedicating resources to really thread equity into all of the ways we serve our community,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, M.D., J.D. “This means we’re going to have the tough conversations about race, about culture, about gender identity, and about disabilities – and really address how society as a whole makes life much harder for certain members of our community. We’re holding ourselves accountable to doing better.”

In June 2020, the County’s Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis, driven in part by local and national activism that stemmed from the death of George Floyd and the many others who came before him. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to shine a spotlight on the disproportionate number of people of color impacted by the coronavirus, including Santa Clara County’s Latino, African American, and Asian American communities, especially in East San José and the southern parts of the county.

“Systemic and structural inequities such as exclusion, segregation, redlining, and racism have had profound and devastating impacts on the lives of many in our community,” said Deputy County Executive Dr. Rocío Luna. “It takes the collective will of the entire community to work on correcting societal injustices, and as County leaders, we are committed to doing our part.”

Photo of Analilia Garcia

As Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, Dr. García will set up the infrastructure for the brand-new Office, which will include a team of staff that will support all County departments to assess programs, services, and policies for explicit considerations of equity. These efforts will help to ensure that strategies and actions reduce rather than perpetuate inequities for all residents of Santa Clara County.

Dr. García has worked for more than two decades in academia, nonprofit organizations, and government – always as a stalwart champion for equity. She previously worked in the County’s Public Health Department, where she provided leadership and strategic direction for research and program planning to address racial and health equity, and social determinants of health. Dr. García established a robust Racial and Health Equity infrastructure that included trainings for County staff to normalize conversations about race and led countywide participation in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE).

“For me this is personal and professional, and it has been my life’s mission to work to address systemic inequities. Race and ZIP codes often predict the quality of a person’s life. It is important to name and address the root causes driving the inequities that we see in Santa Clara County. At the core, it’s about improving people’s lives, and to do so we must be data-driven, community-centered, and work in partnership with our community leaders and organizations,” said Dr. García. “This is a remarkable opportunity to work across our County departments to disrupt the systems and shift the operations to improve outcomes. This means when we make decisions on budget, programs and policy, we’re thinking proactively how these actions will impact our communities.”

Dr. García, who comes from an immigrant family, is bilingual and bicultural. She holds a doctorate in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree in Public Health from San José State University, and a bachelor’s degree in Bio-Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, California, making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.

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Media Contact: María Leticia Gómez / Quan Vu,  Office of Communications and Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119, [email protected]

Posted: January 10, 2022