Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion

Welcome to the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) 

Our office is dedicated to creating a more inclusive and equitable community for all residents of Akron. We believe that diversity is a strength, and that everyone deserves to be treated with respect, dignity, and fairness. 

Our mission is to foster a culture of inclusivity and equity in Akron by promoting understanding, respect, and appreciation for the diversity of our community. We work to eliminate discrimination, bias, and prejudice, and to ensure that all individuals have equal access to the opportunities and resources they need to thrive. 

The DEI office and its initiatives are led by Esther Thomas, who was appointed to the role in 2024. The City of Akron is fully committed to creating equity throughout our internal processes and initiatives, as well as working with community partners to ensure equity is present across institutions throughout Akron.  

Timeline of Equity Initiatives 

The below timeline breaks down the steps the city has taken towards equity since 2017:  

  • In 2017, Mayor Horrigan signed into law a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance that established protections against discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations, and created the Akron Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) to hear complaints. 
  • Mayor Horrigan brought together Akron’s healthcare and social services partners to create Full Term First Birthday (FTFB) the area’s first collective dedicated to eliminating racial disparities in healthcare. Tamiyka Rose was appointed as the City’s first Health Equity Ambassador. Since then, FTFB has created a comprehensive plan to lower Akron’s infant mortality rate, which disproportionately affects Black babies.  
  • The Office of Integrated Development was created to better align resources and spur economic mobility in historically disenfranchised communities. Since them, OID has spearheaded a number of programs such as MORTAR and Rubber City Match which have expanded economic opportunities for Akron’s minority populations.  
  • Mayor Horrigan spearheaded the City’s first Youth Violence Prevention Plan which aims to reduce crimes committed by Akron’s youth, providing opportunities for education, recreation, and economic development. Several programs such as Late Night Basketball, and our 5-Point Plan for Violence Reduction were created as a result.  
  • In Summer of 2020, the City of Akron and Akron City Council moved to declare racism as a public health crisis in Akron, to coalesce the community around the efforts of eliminating racial bias in our institutions.  
  • In 2020, the City of Akron convened the City’s first Racial Equity Social Justice Taskforce (RESJ), which tirelessly worked to discover systemic barriers to equity and provide solutions to eliminate them.  
  • In 2021, the city hired the first Supplier Diversity Officer, who worked to increase equity in the City’s procurement processes and expand opportunities to work with the City to more minority vendors.  
  • The City of Akron convened the Innerbelt Commission, to determine the most equitable steps forward for redeveloping the Innerbelt, which redlined a largely Black neighborhood and left thousands of residents in the 1960s disenfranchised.  
  • In 2022, the Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce completed their report, which recommended sweeping reforms across the City’s economic, communications, safety, and health systems.  
  • After a thorough review, the City of Akron delivered its response to the RESJ report, detailing the systemic, organizational changes we had made thus far, and which reforms were to be enacted in the coming years.  
  • In 2022, Mayor Horrigan hired the City’s first Youth Opportunity Director, Denico Buckley-Knight, who was tasked with working with the City’s network of youth programs to reduce violence and expand youth opportunity.  
  • In order to implement tenets of the Youth Violence Strategic Plan, Mayor Horrigan earmarked millions of dollars in ARPA funding to create a grant program for youth programs in Akron.  
  • In 2022, Mayor Horrigan appointed Tammy Tucker as the first Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 
  • In 2024, Mayor Malik appointed Esther Thomas as the new Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

ADA Accessibility 

The City's DEI Director is also the ADA Accessibility Coordinator. To find out more about the city's accessibility services and accommodations please visit ADA Services here