History of DEI

History of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiatives at CCWD

CCWD started its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiative under the leadership of former General Manager Steve Welch. When the District’s Board of Directors (Board) selected Welch to become General Manager in late 2019, he shared with all employees his priorities, including a focus on DEI. His DEI vision, supported by the Board, was to deliberately build a culture where every employee feels free to contribute fully through their creativity, innovation, expertise and productivity. 

After a brief pause due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in July 2020, a DEI Advisory Council was formed, comprised of CCWD employees and held its first meeting. Shortly thereafter, following a competitive proposal process, a professional services consultant was hired with specific expertise in DEI to assist the District with creating a five-year strategic plan. An important consideration for the emerging DEI initiative was for it to be employee-led; inclusive of all employees. Three months later the Board approved the creation of a new DEI Department effective October 5, 2020 and Sonja Stanchina was selected to become the first Director of DEI to lead this critical business strategy area and develop the strategic plan.

Between October 2020 and October 2021, CCWD established additional employee-comprised committees, conducted trainings, implemented new processes to mitigate bias in recruitment and selection processes, and created internal educational materials to engage employees in this new initiative. CCWD also conducted a comprehensive and voluntary employee DEI survey to establish baseline assessment data as necessary to measure effectiveness and ongoing progress.  

Information gained from the discussions with employees, the consultants, and the employee survey was synthesized to form CCWD’s FY22-FY26 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategic Plan (PDF). The Plan was completed in October 2021 and implementation began. The Plan will provide guidance on an ongoing basis as CCWD’s DEI program grows. CCWD was pleased to receive statements of support from both union labor partner representatives (International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21 and International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 39) who represent 90% of District employees.  

CCWD’s DEI work completed through October 2021 received recognition from the California Public Employers Labor Relations Association. Represented by thousands of California public sector professionals, this recognition affirms CCWD’s DEI focus and early progress.