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Mayor Gloria appoints San Diego’s 1st Chief Race and Equity Officer

Kim Desmond will lead the city’s recently created Office of Race and Equity and assumed the role on Aug. 3.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Mayor Todd Gloria has appointed Kim Desmond to serve as San Diego’s first Chief Race and Equity Officer.

Desmond will lead the city’s recently created Office of Race and Equity and assumed the role on Aug. 3.

“Historically, there has been inequity in city services in terms of access to these things. So, our goal with this office is to ensure that we are looking at the tailored needs of every neighborhood and making sure everyone is able to thrive,” Desmond said.

News 8 asked Desmond what she plans to do first in order to help San Diego neighborhoods.

“The first thing on my list is to listen to each unique neighborhood and make sure I’m hearing and seeing the city through their eyes,” she said.

Desmond said she’s also going to embark on a listening tour to connect with everyone in the city’s neighborhoods to ensure that she’s very visible, accessible and taking everyone’s feedback to city hall.

“It’s a very big job and we have a very big city. We have 11,000 employees, so one of my first jobs is to mobilize all of those employees and make sure that they understand how to do equitable work,” she said.

Desmond said equity is a word that can be filled with many different meanings and it can be used as jargon sometimes, but it really has three main components.

  • Equity occurs when everyone has access to resources and city services;
  • Equity is about bringing actionable outcomes to the work, ensuring that we’re using innovation and data-driven practices; and
  • Equity is about understanding that every neighborhood may have different needs, so we must tailor our responses accordingly so that all of us can thrive.

Mayor Todd Gloria said his administration has sought to put equity front and center and has now solidified that objective with the hiring of Desmond.

"For too long, the decisions and policies coming out of City Hall have not served all of us. Equity is about making sure everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Kim will help ensure all of the decisions we make are filtered through the lens of equity and that we end the disparities that exist within our City government."

Established in June 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and a national outcry for racial justice, the Office of Race and Equity was proposed by Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe as a deliberate step to advance racial and social equity in the City of San Diego. 

“Kim Desmond’s appointment as the new Chief Race and Equity Officer reflects our pledge to lead this region in creating an equity ecosystem,” said Councilmember Montgomery Steppe.

Desmond's office, an official city department, will provide education and technical support to city staff and officials who seek to reduce and eliminate systemic racism and barriers to the fair and just distribution of resources, access and opportunity.

"I’m honored to be appointed to this position and excited to have an opportunity to create systemic change as San Diego’s first Chief of Race and Equity," Desmond said.

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