At the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA), we know that
the human services programs our county members operate have the
power to transform lives, particularly for California’s most
vulnerable. At the same time, we are mindful of our
privilege and position, and recognize that many of our clients
are persons of color, identify as LGBTQ+ or come from other
historically underserved communities, are of limited English
proficiency, are new to this state and country, or are members of
other marginalized groups.
While CWDA and our member agencies and staff can’t undo past
harm, we can take steps today to improve services and promote
equitable treatment and inclusion now and in the future. That’s
why we’re proud to announce our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
(DEI) Initiative. Over the past year, our staff and members
worked together to develop a five-year plan including concrete
objectives for our internal organization, to support our members
in the 58 counties, and to work with our partner organizations
and agencies at the state, federal and local level to promote our
work and collaborate on new projects. Throughout this
Board-approved initiative, we will work to bring a DEI lens to
everything we do, from how we approach state policy, to how we
support our members to effectively engage with clients and train
and empower staff at the county level. We will encourage our
county partners to take a similar approach and work on
incorporating DEI-informed practices when interacting with
We’re pleased to share our DEI Strategic Plan and Timeline, as
well as an inaugural blog post on the initiative from our
Executive Director Cathy Senderling-McDonald.
We look forward to working with our county members, and our
partners at other county and state agencies, the Legislature and
the broader community of advocates to effectuate this plan and be
held accountable to it.
As I stepped into the role of CWDA’s Executive Director in
January 2021, our state and our county human services agencies
were grappling with several interrelated crises. One was
the devastation, fear and human loss of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our county staff were on the front lines, meeting a surge of need
and witnessing the devastating impact of the virus on communities
long excluded from the basic foundations of health – quality
housing, nutrition, preventive care and more.