After Boulder diversity officer’s unexplained exit, city seeks outside help on race and equity

It was a new day last summer when Boulder announced it had hired Renata Robinson, the city’s first-ever diversity officer, to lead efforts to make Boulder more welcoming and inclusive.

The problem long had plagued the area, with survey results consistently showing that ethnic minorities faced a barrage of low-level and overt racism.

Attempts to right the ship had been underway in various forms for decades, including, recently, the City Council’s creation in 2015 of the Human Relations Commission. Employees long had been tasked with “diversity initiatives,” the city said in its news release touting Robinson’s hiring, but bringing a dedicated position online put “diversity and inclusion efforts in the forefront.”

Less than a year later, Robinson would be gone, the future of her position unclear.

Boulder officials have not been forthcoming about her departure. People familiar with the matter say the fallout is the latest example of Boulder’s double-talk when it comes to race.

“It’s the inclusion illusion,” said Peter Salas, a Chicano who for many years headed diversity efforts for Boulder County’s government. “They want to pass resolutions and make declarations about being welcoming and inclusive, but they don’t have a plan, they don’t have data. They’re not prepared to do the work that’s required, to put in the effort.”

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