The Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership, which aims to develop leaders of color to assume positions in public service in the Greater Boston area, was launched Feb. 7, 2007, at Suffolk University.

The Initiative is a new, three-year effort to provide education and training related to seeking elected office, managing and running political campaigns, and serving in all levels of government.

A partnership led by ¿Oíste?, MassVOTE and Suffolk University’s Department of Government will manage the initiative.

"The Initiative for Diversity in Public Leadership provides an excellent opportunity for representative democracy to expand within Massachusetts," said Kenneth S. Greenberg, dean of Suffolk's College of Arts and Sciences. "Our Government Department is pleased to be a part of this initiative in co-designing the curriculum to prepare new leaders for public service."

Study reveals gaps in diversity of representation

The Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership grew out of a study on diversity in state and municipal government by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. This report studied the numbers of appointed and elected individuals of color statewide. It found that fewer than 11 percent of top-level gubernatorial appointees in the outgoing administration were people of color.

The Initiative will address this problem by developing a new generation of leaders of color committed to public service in order to ensure a more representative democracy and a diverse civic community in Greater Boston.

The Initiative for Diversity in Civic Lea was developed by a planning committee that includes philanthropic leaders, such as Angel H. Bermudez of the Boston Foundation and Charles Rodgers of the New Community Fund, and community leaders, such as Brenda Gadson, Boston Center for Community and Justice; Ali Noorani, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition; and Leverett Wing, Lee Wing Management.

The kickoff event featured a keynote speech by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.