Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The City of Lake Oswego aspires to be an organization where every person feels safe, welcomed, supported, and included. 

Our country is experiencing a turning point and we are having much-needed difficult conversations about racial inequality. We invite everyone in our community to stay engaged and work together to make Lake Oswego a welcoming and inclusive community for all.

Over the past few years, the City has taken a number of actions to break down barriers that, historically, have made it harder for some people in our community to succeed. 

Our City Commitment

In September 2017, the City Council adopted a resolution affirming our commitment to welcoming and including all people in our community.  Our policy says:

The City of Lake Oswego works to welcome and include all of our community’s residents at City facilities, events and meetings.  We strive to ensure that City services are relevant and responsive to all residents and that all people can participate in City projects and decisions. Lake Oswego’s economic, cultural, and political environment is made better when all people have access to City programs and services.

In 2020, the City Council adopted goals around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) that include increasing the diversity of people serving on City Boards, Commissions and Committees and employed by the City of Lake Oswego to meet the needs of all the City’s residents. Initiatives under this goal include formal DEI training for Council, Executive Team, and Board and Commissions, and support the DEI Task Force and implement their recommendations. Other tasks include developing a calendar of events to celebrate cultural and religious diversity. 

Actions to Date

DEI Task Force

Creating a welcoming and inclusive community takes effort and purpose. In May 2019, the Lake Oswego City Council passed Resolution 19-31, establishing a DEI Task Force. Council charged the Task Force with, “identifying barriers to participation on the City's boards and commissions, making suggestions to reduce those barriers, identifying methods to increase the applicant pool for City job openings, and making suggestions on how the City can increase the diversity of its applicant pool.”

Subsequently, Resolution 19-49 appointed members to the Task Force in September 2019. Task Force bi-monthly meetings began on February 5, 2020. One meeting took place in March 2020 before COVID-19 pandemic led to the temporary postponement of all boards, commissions and task force meetings. Meetings resumed in June (virtually). Check the city meeting calendar for upcoming meeting times and agendas. 

In June 2020, City Council asked the DEI Task Force to take on a broader set of questions focusing on:

  • Changes in community engagement practices.
  • Ways to make City facilities and services more welcoming to diverse people.
  • How can we hire, train, retain, and support a diverse workforce?
  • Ways to build relationships with people and groups who haven’t been traditionally involved with City 

In addition, in 2020, the City Council adopted goals around DEI. Goals include:

  • Formal DEI training for Council, staff and Board and Commission members.
  • To support and collaborate with the DEI Task Force, and to receive and deliberate on their recommendations.

Other Actions 

  • Specific training and support that will improve our ability to understand and address unconscious bias: 
    • Supervisors Forum Training on Understanding Bias in June 2018
    • Police Department Training on Implicit Bias and Procedural Justice in February 2019
    • Parks and Recreation Department Training on White Allyship in February 2019
    • Supervisors Forum Training on White Allyship in Close-Knit Communities in April 2019
    • Lake Oswego University Class on DEI in September 2019
    • Library Department full-day Training on DEI in October 2019
    • Supervisors Forum Training on DEI in November 2019
    • Police and Fire Command Staff two-day Training titled Changing the Narrative in December 2019
  • Co-hosted and participated in planning the first ever multi-City equity summit in 2019.
  • Participated as a sponsor and on the planning committee for the Building Bridges – Confronting Hate event held on October 24, 2019. The City has participated in this event for a many years and City staff and Councilor Kohlhoff are on the planning committee for the 2020 Building Bridges event.
  • Sponsored and staff have attended the NW Public Employees Diversity Conference for many years.
  • Member of Partners in Diversity and regularly attend their events, including Say Hey!
  • Lake Oswego Police participates in Word is Bond.
  • Staff, including members of the Police Department, and City Council members regularly attend Respond to Racism monthly meetings.
  • A group of staff and community members went to the Museum of Tolerance (MOT) in 2018. They now hold Joint Equity Initiative meetings on a quarterly basis. This includes City staff, members of Council, members from Respond to Racism, LOSD staff and Board members. The purpose of these meetings is to share information about the work we are doing around DEI and collaborate when possible.
  • City Manager and Assistant City Manager have been serving on the steering and planning committee for the NW Women’s Leadership Academy since its inception in 2017.   

Removal of Racial Covenants in Deeds

Some residents may find discriminatory language in their property deed that restricts homeownership based on race. These restrictions, known as racial covenants, are illegal and no longer in effect. 

The Supreme Court ruled against racially restrictive covenants in 1948, and they were outlawed by the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968. However, because so many of them remain in deeds and private covenants and restrictions, or “CC&Rs”, some states, including Oregon, have adopted laws to help homeowners remove them from their deeds. 

Learn more about how to remove restrictive covenants from your deed.

Library Resources

Lake Oswego Public Library continues to learn about, support, and develop resources and policies related to anti-racism, the DEI framework and the Own Voices movement. Visit their website for some of the ways we are building and sharing resources to help further the discussion and understanding of these issues. 

Contact Information

Megan Phelan

Assistant City Manager



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