In an effort to improve neighborhood outreach and address Mesa’s changing demographics, the city’s Diversity Office joined the Neighborhood Services Department on Monday.
This organizational change will allow Mary Berumen, the city’s diversity director, to work more at a grass-roots level to address the cultural issues that often arise in Mesa neighborhoods.
“I’m really excited,” Berumen said of the move. “I think we can really make a difference. It’s really putting policy into practice.”
The Diversity Office was created as part of the city manager’s office seven years ago to address the city’s demographic shifts.
The office has served to bolster diversity and cultural awareness both within city staff as well as in the community.
Berumen became the sole staff member of the office, however, after the city was forced to cut funding.
The Neighborhood Services Department also experienced severe cuts, resulting in a shortage of neighborhood outreach and diversity initiatives.
As a diversity officer, Berumen has also been involved with diversity training for staff and affirmative action issues.
While Berumen will still help out with internal diversity issues, City Manager Chris Brady said her primary focus will now be on outreach efforts. She will also continue to oversee the city’s Human Relations Advisory Board.
“She’s already had a lot of contact in the community,” said Brady, who noted that Berumen will now work more in the “front lines.”
“We are hoping … this will help us continue to strengthen our neighborhood service,” he said.
Berumen said she hopes to put her mediation background to good use.
“I love the community. I am really looking forward to working with the community and becoming more involved in the issues,” Berumen said.
The city manager’s decision to move the Diversity Office into Neighborhood Services comes only about two months after Mesa launched a sweeping reorganization.
The overhaul reshaped bulky divisions by putting them under four deputy city managers.