Nearly 40 percent of the 1 million residents in San Jose were born outside the U.S. While immigrants have high workforce participation rates, many also struggle to access opportunities in education, jobs, and public services. San Jose has prioritized integrating its immigrant populations, as city leadership recognizes the need for more nuanced conversations and guidance around race and racial equity. Working with the Office of the City Manager, FUSE Executive Fellow Hymavathy Menath helped San Jose develop a racial equity framework to achieve racial equity objectives across city operations.
Hymavathy guided and supported San Jose’s leadership and community in laying the foundation for racial equity work, including collaborating with city administration, community leaders, racial equity advocates, and nonprofits to develop a racial equity framework for rapid response in emergency operations for COVID-19. To sustain the impact of this work, she began building organizational capacity for institutional transformation and is helping the city leverage data as a strategic asset. Using racial equity principles and practices, she has also developed a survey process to assist in economic recovery, which includes developing a virtual incubator for small businesses in East San Jose. San Jose now seeks to establish an Office of Racial Equity to institutionalize a racial equity lens within all city functions. To this end, Hymavathy will focus on strategic planning, creating accountability mechanisms, and capacity building for the Office’s development.