Hear From DCHS Staff on Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month and How They Empower Communities

Affinity Groups, also known as Employee Resource Groups (ERG), focus on protected categories of people as defined by federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws. These employee groups address racism and other forms of oppression to advance the County’s equity and social justice goals—enhancing the King County Equity and Social Justice Strategic plan through their vital work.

DCHS is both proud and supportive of our staff who are active members across various Affinity Groups—with some of our folks also holding leadership roles within the various ERGs. We’re happy to cross-post from the KC Employees blog as they talk about community empowerment and the meaning of this important month-long celebration with two of our DCHS staff.

Posted on October 8, 2020 by Lilia Cabello Drain on KC Employees

Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month and supporting one another

The King County Latinx Affinity Group is hosting several events throughout the year to encourage employees during these challenging times, and celebrate Latinx Heritage Month, recognized as Sept. 15 – Oct. 15. Several of these events are planned in collaboration with Sound Transit Latinx in Transportation (LiT), and the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Latinx Caucus. They are intended to educate and empower community members to join together in supporting one another, the Latinx community, and other King County communities as well.

To learn more about these events and the Latinx Affinity Group overall, we connected with several members to hear about their experience as members and event organizers.

Shannon Perez-Darby, a Program Manager in the Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS), is an active member in the Latinx group. She has been with the County since 2018 and works in the Adult Services Division as part of the Resilient Communities Program, overseeing how the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy can help fund strategies that support marginalized communities to thrive.

She explains how important it is that the County does this work to value and honor the full range of employees’ experiences and identities, which in turn allows employees to come together to further expand on it, and enhance its impact.

“This work is a reflection of our larger values; how you do one thing is how you do everything,” she said. “We built trust, connection, and the space to let all members to bring their whole selves to the affinity group space.”

Reginald B. Cole is a Program Manager in the Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline (SSPP) area within Best Starts for Kids, also within DCHS. He has been with the County since 2017 and supports the grant process work being done through the SSPP to ensure grant recipients are successful.

He has appreciated the opportunity to be a Latinx Affinity Group member, citing the group as a way to build community, stay up to date with what is being done around King County from a Latinx perspective, and support projects when possible.

“This work is so important, because whether we think about it or not, we carry our identities with us every day, and especially as people of color, that is at most times even more apparent,” Reginald explains. “When intentional space is created to have conversations surrounding our identities, cultures, etc., it sets us up to see each other’s humanity in a new light.”

“As King County staff serving a wide array of people with infinite different identities this work is paramount.”

These events in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month, observed from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 in the United States, Canada, and Latin America, are an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the long, important presence and contributions of Hispanic and Latino and Latina (Latinx) Americans. The events have included conversations from prominent Latinx community members, discussions about mental health, Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) history, civic engagement, and others. View the full calendar here.

To attend a Latinx Heritage month event, view the proclamation and event calendar here. To learn more about the Latinx Affinity Group, the Black/African Affinity Group, and other groups active at King County visit https://kingcounty.gov/AffinityGroups.

Read how the Latinx Affinity Group is supporting other Affinity Groups in the article “Coming together to address racial inequities and care for one another.”