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Springfield hires diversity leader

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The city of Springfield named its first director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Taj Suleyman is scheduled to start May 17, according to a news release. He joins the city from Iowa's Dubuque Community Schools, for which he's served as director of equity.

“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 in the release. “I am looking forward to being part of the community dialogue and advancing the conversation inside the city of Springfield organization."

In his new position, Suleyman will oversee the municipality's diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, including the development and implementation of strategies and education programs throughout the organization.

City spokesperson Cora Scott said Suleyman would be part of City Manager Jason Gage’s office and that his hiring would not result in the creation of a new department.

“This is not intended to be a position that dives in and solves all our diversity and inclusion challenges in our community," Gage said in the release. “However, this position will give the municipality the ability to strengthen our collaboration with communitywide organizations in concert with the city departments that already work in this space."

Suleyman, who moved to the United States as a refugee from Lebanon 21 years ago, also has experience as equity outreach coordinator for the city of Dubuque, Iowa. The son of a Sudanese father and Saudi Arabian mother, Suleyman has a bachelor's in international relations from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and a master's in intercultural relations from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.

His annual salary at the city of Springfield will be $112,500, according to the release.

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