ANN ARBOR, MI — Ann Arbor is taking another step forward to increase its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The city announced the hiring this week Laura Horta to be the first director of the mayor’s office of organizational capital, a new position was created in the city administration.

“Following our recent addition Debra Baxon as the city’s chief human resources and labor relations officer, we are making strides in our efforts to strengthen the city as a whole,” City Administrator Milton Dohany said in a statement.

“We look forward to the important contributions, conversations and initiatives that will occur through Laura’s work, collaboration and leadership in helping to ensure that city operations and services are conducted in a positive and inclusive manner.”

White men dominate Ann Arbor city government in hiring and promotions

Orta started with the city on Sept. 19 and will lead the city’s DEI efforts, focusing on strategic planning and collaboration with community stakeholder groups and the city’s workforce for cultural competency and greater diversity in engagement, according to a city announcement.

“She specializes in trauma-informed, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC community and organizational practice and has developed and delivered training programs,” it said.

In recent years, the city has parted ways with numerous high-ranking city hall officials amid accusations and questions about their commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion.

MLive/The Ann Arbor News investigated diversity and discrimination issues in Ann Arbor city government earlier this year and found that city staff overwhelmingly male and disproportionately white, and those who receive promotions. Several city employees from minority groups also filed complaints of discrimination in recent years.

See Ann Arbor City Hall’s racial and gender diversity by department

Horta has more than 15 years of experience at DEI, most recently serving as director of the Center for Active Inclusion, which is part of the Institute for Equity, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. She previously served as Central Michigan University’s Diversity Coordinator and Director of Women’s Studies.

Horta is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership and social justice and currently holds a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in intercultural, multicultural and diversity studies.

MORE ANN ARBOR NEWS:

Key findings from MLive’s report on Ann Arbor City Hall’s diversity and discrimination

How Ann Arbor plans to recruit more minority police and firefighters

See Ann Arbor workplace discrimination complaints filed by city workers

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