DENVER — Dr. Aisha Rousseau has been named Denver's Chief Equity Officer and the new head of the Mayor’s Office of Social Equity and Innovation.
Mayor Michael B. Hancock made the announcement on Tuesday morning.
“Dr. Rousseau has demonstrated a unique expertise in balancing the exposure of racial and social injustices, with the very critical work of improving the systems and processes that created them in the first place,” he said. “Her candid approach and passionate leadership is exactly what we need and I am proud to have her leading this effort.”
Rousseau will work to ensure the City and County of Denver is a more equitable place, with a main focus to "guide and advance the inclusion of equity, in the form of education, processes and policies, into city departments and programs, with the goal of providing those we serve with a more accessible, diverse, and inclusive city government," according to the city.
"I’m really continuing the work that has been laid as a foundation by Aaron Brown and Kim Desmond with building diversity, equity, and inclusion here in the City and County of Denver both internally and external to city government practices," Rousseau said.
She will prioritize Hancock's vision of creating Denver Institute of Equity and Reconciliation, which would establish the city as a national leader in research related to racism, bias, inclusion, practices of reconciliation, and the development of programs and training opportunities for law enforcement and the public, private and education sectors.
"I’m really excited about giving attention to the mayor's initiative that he has been working kind of quietly behind the scenes on," Rousseau said.
Most recently, Rousseau served as the Director of the Division of Disability Rights for the City and County of Denver. In this new role, she carries with her a proven record of creating spaces for marginalized people to enable their voices and perspectives, and in turn, shape inclusive and accessible policies and environments, according to the city.
"I'm just excited about doing this work. It’s important for me to acknowledge that the last 6 years we’ve been doing equity work as it pertains specifically to people with disabilities and this office, the Mayor's Office of Social Equity and Innovation and the Chief Equity Officer position is really just moving this work forward," Rousseau said.
“I have enjoyed leading the cultural shift in Denver around equity, as it specifically pertains to physical and programmatic accessibility these last six years,” Rousseau said. “I look forward to partnering with internal and external stakeholders and continue to set Denver on a track towards leading the way in dismantling systemic racism through the development of more equitable processes, practices, and policies.”
Rousseau was born in Denver. She earned a BA from Spelman College, a Master of Science in rehabilitation counseling from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University, and a PhD in health-related sciences from the School of Allied Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University.