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Ginther Appoints City's First Diversity Chief

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Mike Foley
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Stephen Francis speaks about his new postion with Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty.

Just a few days into his first term as Columbus mayor, Andrew Ginther announced his selection for a new cabinet position focusing on diversity and inclusion. 

Mike Foley has details.

Mayor Ginther appointed Stephen Francis as Columbus’ first Chief Diversity Officer in an announcement at East High School, not too far from where Francis grew up.

“Steve will help clearly define and communicate what the City of Columbus means when it talks about diversity and inclusion and help us determine how that competitive advantage will set Columbus apart from other cities.”

Francis certainly has the qualifications to embark on that challenge. He’s the manager of diversity relations within Honda’s Administration Division and lends his time and talents to a number of groups including the Central Ohio Diversity Consortium and the Columbus Urban League. Francis also felt the call to public service because of his father, who served as Columbus’s first African American city attorney. 

“As a diversity professional myself for over ten years, I know that to change one’s own behavior and mindset and to attempt to manage one’s biases- which we all have - is hard enough – but the challenge to help others change and manage those same things is even more difficult.”

“The social and political climate and discourse in this country is in the toilet. And it’s laced with racial hatred and religious phobia and division. It’s fracturing us not only as a central Ohio and Columbus community but as a nation. And so I challenge you to get onboard with us as we collectively work shoulder to shoulder to address these ills.”

Francis urged residents to think about how they define diversity and inclusion, so we asked what his version would be.

“I think very basically diversity and inclusion means empowerment and opportunity, gaining access to allow people to express their unique talents that they bring to the table. It has to be very simple and clear, so we’ll work closely with the communications team to figure out what really resonates best with the city of Columbus.”

Francis went on to say that he’ll look to change the mindset and behavior of those in leadership positions, adding that diversity and inclusion are not a threat to anybody --- but an enhancement to everybody.  

Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. Foley has worked in various roles, from producing news and feature stories to engineering Live From Studio A sessions. A series of music features Foley started in 2018 called Music Journeys has grown into a podcast and radio show. He also assists in developing other programs in WCBE's Podcast Experience.