The village of Oak Park has gained an important new staff member. Danielle Walker has been hired as the village’s first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. The new position is responsible for collaborating on the development and application of organization-wide equity and inclusion strategies, including that of the village’s racial equity toolkit.
“I have dedicated my career to equity and social justice that boldly leads to cultivating an equitable and inclusive society for all voices, communities and people that have been left behind,” Walker said in a village news release announcing her hire on Aug. 16. “I’m excited to continue on this path in Oak Park.”
The village had been searching to fill the position since April. Walker has a Ph.D. in philosophy with a concentration on critical social issues in education from the University of Colorado-Denver.
“I am pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Danielle Walker to lead the highly important work of institutionalizing diversity, equity and inclusion in our Village government,” Village Manager Kevin Jackson said in the press release. “Her extensive background leading, advising and advocating for the infusion of diversity, equity and inclusion in organizational cultures and other workforce dynamics makes her uniquely qualified to fill this position.”
Walker officially joined the village as its DEI officer Aug. 15. The position is part of the village’s executive leadership team. Before coming to Oak Park, she served as the DEI officer for the City and County of Denver-City Attorney’s Office. She was the first person to hold that title.
She additionally served as a policy advisor for the Colorado Department of Health Care, Policy and Finance, where she focused on equity within the disability community. Walker has also spent close to a decade researching diversity, equity and inclusion strategies.
Walker is the founder of the Racism Lives Here higher education initiative and was awarded the 47th NAACP Image Chairman’s Award for Activism. She also holds a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Missouri, where she also received her Bachelor of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies.