For Immediate Release, Aug 24th, 2020
Bend, Or - The Downtown Bend Business Association (DBBA), a small nonprofit dedicated to increasing the vitality of Downtown Bend, announced today that it has created a Cultural Awareness and Social Diversity Coordinator position to serve as an ex-officio on their Board of Directors. This role will coordinate and guide efforts to define, assess, foster and cultivate diversity and inclusion in Downtown Bend.
To drive this effort, the DBBA has named Riccardo Waites as the organization’s first Cultural Awareness and Social Diversity Coordinator.
Waites is a naval submarine veteran, single father, small business owner, and Founder of Central Oregon Black Leaders Assembly (COBLA).
Back in 2019, Bend City Councilors unanimously approved goals for the 2019 – 2021 biennium that included, for the first time, actions focused on “embedding a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion within the City of Bend.” At the time when this goal was established, the DBBA was in full support of these efforts and they also began working with city staff in their efforts to make Bend a Welcoming City.
Since this time, our world has shifted and changed in more ways than one and we are seeing now more than ever the need to bring experts on this diversity and inclusion into every level of leadership. In establishing this new position, the DBBA wants to communicate that Downtown Bend is for everyone, that Black Lives Matter, and that we welcome and honor people of all races, ethnicity, culture, country of origin, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender, language, socioeconomic status, emotional, developmental and physical ability.
In April, the DBBA partnered with OUT Central Oregon to encourage local businesses to display a "You are Welcome Here" sticker on their windows. Next month, you’ll see “Downtown is for Everyone” in white, yellow, brown, black and rainbow letters on Downtown Bend Directory Maps.
“It is important to our organization that people who live in our community, and those who visit us, know that it doesn’t matter what the color of their skin is, or who they love, Downtown is a place for everyone.” says Aisling, Executive Director of the DBBA.
Waites hopes to bring a sense of inclusion, safety, and more businesses of color to Downtown.
Downtown Bend was established in 1903, and for over a 100 years has served as the heart of the Bend community. Downtown serves as Bend’s living room, the entrepreneurial hub of the city, the City’s largest collective employer, and the #1 tourist destination in Central Oregon. Downtown offers unique boutiques, award-winning restaurants, state-of-the-art beauty and spa services, and high-quality entertainment venues.
Downtown welcomes everyone to enjoy all that their district has to offer.