Taj Suleyman join the City’s May 17, 2022 as director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Suleyman has extensive career experience leading diversity, equity and inclusion work for a variety of organizations, including work for the public sector and non-profits. Most recently he was the director of equity for Dubuque Community Schools in Dubuque, Iowa, serving as a key district leader.
Prior to joining Dubuque Community Schools, Suleyman served as equity outreach coordinator for the City of Dubuque. He has worked both within the city organization and across the community to develop programs that advance understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion; and implemented initiatives to engage and support under-represented groups.
“We are very excited to have Taj join our team,” said Jason Gage, City Manager. “He has significant leadership experience and we are looking forward to continuing our work to build a better workplace that represents the community we serve.”
Suleyman reports directly to the City Manager. Gage said this position is critical in taking the local government’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives to a new level, including developing and implementing strategies and education programs throughout the organization.
“This is not intended to be a position that dives in and solves all our diversity and inclusion challenges in our community,” Gage explains. “However, this position will give the municipality the ability to strengthen our collaboration with community-wide organizations in concert with the City departments that already work in this space. As the local representative government, the City of Springfield is held to a higher standard as a beacon and guiding organization. The trust we have previously built with our citizens is meaningful. As all communities do, however, we have more work to do,” Gage said.
The City of Springfield is committed to taking a leadership role in addressing direct and systemic prejudice, bias and racism. Beyond racial equity, however, the City is committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in every sense of the words, which is one reasons Suleyman was attracted to the job.
“I am excited about working in a community in which I experienced an authentic and genuine hospitality when I visited,” Suleyman said. “I am looking forward to being part of the community dialogue and advancing the conversation inside the City of Springfield organization. I strive, along with other City leadership, to co-facilitate the celebration of diversity, envision inclusivity and advancing equity in our communities.”
Suleyman came to the U.S. as a refugee from Lebanon 21 years ago, the son of a Sudanese father and Saudi Arabian mother. He says his personal experiences help shape his understanding of issues faced by immigrants and other members of subgroup populations. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in international relations (languages) from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and a master of arts degree in intercultural relations from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.