Derek Okubo: Director of Human Rights and Community Relations

As part of today’s festivities for now-Mayor Michael Hancock, Derek Okubo was just announced as the next Director of Human Rights and Community Relations.

HRCR is a well-liked branch of City Government, and encompasses the Denver Office on Aging, the Denver Office of Disability Rights, the Denver Anti-Discrimination Office, the Denver Women’s Commission, the Denver Office of Community Support and the Denver Office of Sign Language Services & Resources. In short, it’s an important cog in any Mayor’s administration and need be headed by someone with a fundamental understanding of civic equality.

HRCR, besides serving as an advocate for the elderly, the disenfranchised, the LGBT community, and others, also goes through a ton of data. That’s why its director should be someone familiar with collecting, processing, and analyzing data relating to poverty, population growth, unemployment, and so on and so forth.

In comes Derek Okubo. His profile as senior vice president of the American Civic League notes that Okubo

has helped to design and implement dozens of community planning processes around the country and assisted local governments, school districts and communities in long-range planning, economic development, conflict resolution, apprenticeships, race relations, program development, collaborative problem-solving, consensus building, substance abuse prevention and health care. He was actively involved Model City Charter Revision Committee, which produced the 8th Edition of the Model City Charter.

Okubo is also the author of Governance and Diversity: Findings from Los Angeles and Governance and Diversity: Findings from Oakland.

The director spot at HRCR isn’t the most glamorous position in the Mayor’s staff, so we’re glad that Hancock has appointed someone who appears to really have a fundamental understanding of the issues he’ll be focusing on. A relationship with Okubo also helps Hancock and his administration form closer ties with the NCL. That certainly won’t hurt in raising Denver’s profile as a modern, progressive city. Hey, it may even land Denver an All-American City Award during the Hancock years.  

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