SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The city of Springfield has hired its first director of diversity, equity & inclusion.
Taj Suleyman will join the city’s leadership team on May 17.
Before working in Springfield, Suleyman has led diversity, equity and inclusion work for different organizations, including work for the public sector and non-profits.
When Suleyman was the equity outreach coordinator for the city of Dubuque, he helped develop programs to advance understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“We are very excited to have Taj join our team,” said Jason Gage, the city manager. “He has significant leadership experience and we are looking forward to continuing our work to build a better workplace that represents the community we serve.”
For Springfield, Suleyman will help develop and implement strategies and education programs.
“This is not intended to be a position that dives in and solves all our diversity and inclusion challenges in our community,” Gage explains. “However, this position will give the municipality the ability to strengthen our collaboration with community-wide organizations in concert with the City departments that already work in this space. As the local representative government, the City of Springfield is held to a higher standard as a beacon and guiding organization. The trust we have previously built with our citizens is meaningful. As all communities do, however, we have more work to do.”
Twenty-one years ago, Suleyman came to the United States as a refugee from Lebanon. He says his personal experiences help shape his understanding of issues faced by immigrants and other members of subgroup populations.
I am honored to accept the offer and excited about working in a community in which I experienced an authentic and genuine hospitality when I visited,” Suleyman said. “I am looking forward to being part of the community dialogue and advancing the conversation inside the City of Springfield organization. I strive, along with other City leadership, to co-facilitate the celebration of diversity, envision inclusivity and advancing equity in our communities.”
Suleyman has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations (languages) from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and a Master of Arts degree in Intercultural Relations from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.