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City Provided Culture Change Training to 1,500 Employees, Community

New report details anti-racism and culture change work

ALBUQUERQUE — Since the Keller administration launched the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) in 2018, more than 1,500 City employees and community members have received diversity, equity and inclusion training. The City’s Culture Change Initiative Report—available for download here—documents the efforts the City has undertaken to normalize conversations about equity and make progress toward a more inclusive Albuquerque.

In 2018, as part of a broader reform effort and shift toward proactive community policing at the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), Mayor Tim Keller mandated Cultural Sensitivity Training for all cadets. In 2019, under the leadership of OEI, City employees began to participate in racial equity workshops and other equity and inclusion trainings on topics including working with the LGBTQ and disability communities.

“We worked hard to meet our City’s internal training needs, focusing on the police department and leadership,” said Michelle Melendez, the City’s inaugural director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion. “The backlash against anti-racism training nationally and locally was swift, but our administration did not back down – working with City Council we doubled down, passing a resolution that strengthened our City’s commitment to racial equity and making training mandatory. The Keller Administration funded equity training properly and that funding is allowing us to build the capacity of local trainers while also bringing the best-in-class national anti-racism training to City government.”

In September 2019, the Mayor appointed Giovianna Burrell as the OEI’s Culture Change Leader to further develop and implement a cohesive anti-racism, equity, and inclusion training program for City employees. The Culture Change Initiative officially launched in January 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement fueled the demand for the City’s anti-racism training. The City responded to the public health challenge by taking Culture Change courses online through Zoom webinars to follow safe social distancing guidelines. The City Council, Council staff, and the Mayor’s Office have all participated in the training.

Mayor Tim Keller said, “Racism and inequity are not relics of the past. We’re doing this work to make City Hall, the services we offer, and the Albuquerque community fairer, more equitable, and more inclusive.”

More than 78% of participants said they learned something new from the Culture Change Initiative and 82% said they would recommend the training to colleagues.

Below are 2020 participation numbers from the Culture Change Initiative Report:

- 43 Culture Change learning opportunities for City employees

- 7 City departments that requested Culture Change Workshops

- 527 total City employees participated

- 15 percent of City Employees attended more than one training

- 118 community members attended training sessions that were open to the public.

“Equity and inclusion work exposes how we are deeply interconnected. This is lifelong work that is a commitment. The trainings we have led has shown how important it is for us to understand these concepts to reach our greatest thriving potential through education and reminding people of the power they have within to create systems change, which is the essence of culture change,” said Giovianna Burrell, Culture Change Leader with the Office of Equity & Inclusion.

The City contracted with local educator Dr. Virginia Necochea from the Center for Social Sustainable Systems and with RACED, Inc. a local consulting firm to help plan and facilitate learning opportunities with multiple additional community trainers and the national organization The People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond, which provides the trademarked intensive anti-racism training called Undoing Racism Workshop.

Click here to read the full engagement report.

Looking ahead, the City’s Culture Change Initiative looks to expand department participation to create the opportunity for true culture change, along with build the Office of Equity and Inclusion’s capacity to provide mandatory training for all City employees through a train-the-trainer model of dissemination and by adding administration support.


To learn more about the City’s Culture Change efforts, go to


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