The City of San Luis Obispo appointed Cal Poly’s Director of Student Diversity and Belonging Beya Makekau as the city’s first diversity, equity and inclusion manager on Tuesday.
“I am honored to serve in this inaugural role, and I am eager to use my expertise in partnership with City leaders and our community to contribute to building a San Luis Obispo rooted in equity, inclusion and belonging,” Makekau said in a city press release.
As the inaugural DEI Manager, Makekau will establish and manage the City’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This includes leading and collaborating with senior City leadership to create, coordinate and manage all DEI programs from learning content to staff development and community engagement efforts, according to the press release.
“She will lead the City’s initiatives and programs that make San Luis Obispo a more welcoming, inclusive and safe community for everyone,” the City said in the press release.
The City hired Makekau last year as a consultant to support the San Luis Obispo’s DEI Task Force.
Working with the DEI Task Force, Makekau helped develop recommendations for the City to adopt to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in San Luis Obispo. One recommendation was for the City to adopt diversity, equity and inclusion as a Major City Goal, which the City did in their 2021-23 Financial Plan.
Back in November 2021, the City began its search to hire a DEI Manager as recommended by the task force.
“Unfortunately, that recruitment effort was unsuccessful. Rather than restart the process, the City offered the position to Makekau, a regarded champion of DEI in our community,” the City said in the press release.
Mustang News previously reported that Makekau was a member of a hiring committee, alongside the interim DEI project manager Dale Magee, City Manager Derek Johnson and other city staff members.
Deputy City Manager Greg Hermann told Mustang News the city council was hoping to finalize the decision by Jan. 1, but the city received an unprecedented 51 applications from people across the country.
“She [Makekau] specializes in cultural competency, the intersections of privilege, theory informed praxis and inclusive practices. Her mission is to disrupt systems of oppression and advocate for equity through education,” according to Cal Poly’s Student Diversity and Belonging staff page.
Before her time at Cal Poly, Makekau worked at Portland State University as a diversity outreach specialist in the school of business, where she built retention programs for underrepresented minority students.
Makekau’s first day in her new role will be Thursday, Feb. 17.
“As a queer Latina I deeply believe in the beauty of diversity, the necessity for equity, and the power of inclusion,” Makekau said in the press release. “Let’s get to work!”
Editor’s Note: Mustang News reached out to Makekau for an interview, but she declined as she is settling into her new position.