Santa Clara County, the most populous county in the San Francisco Bay Area region, and one of the most affluent counties in the United States has filled two full-time positions for its newly-created Office of LGBTQ Affairs. The county is only the third local government agency—and the first county in the nation—to have an office exclusively dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community. The new staff include Maribel Martinez for the position of manager and Ashley Scarborough for the position of management analyst. Both will assume their new roles Jan. 19.
“The establishment of the Office of LGBTQ Affairs marks another important step on the road to full equality,” said Supervisor Ken Yeager, who led the effort behind the office’s creation. “I am thrilled to see it open soon, and I am proud of Santa Clara County for continuing to be leader for LGBTQ rights and services.”
The only other similar offices in the United States are the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs in the city of Philadelphia and the Office of LGBT Affairs in Washington, D.C.
“While our country and this County have come a long way in recent years, it is clear we can be doing more to serve LGBTQ individuals and ensure improved outcomes for this community,” said Yeager, “I am confident that the Office of LGBTQ Affairs will get us closer to that end.”
According to the County the primary functions of the Office of LGBTQ Affairs will be:
• Training: Train County staff and community stakeholders on LGBTQ issues as they relate to clients, residents, and employees.
• Individualized, Case-specific Assistance: Offer guidance to County departments seeking to fairly and properly serve LGBTQ individuals.
• Cross-departmental Best Practices: Ensure all County departments are following best practices when it comes to treatment of LGBTQ clients, residents, and employees.
• External Relations: Represent the County to local, state and national government agencies, school districts and nonprofit organizations on LGBTQ issues.
• Communications: Develop the Office’s communication strategies and efforts, including a website, pamphlets, and directories, as well as coordinate with the Office of Public Affairs on media inquiries.
• Resource Development: Identify gaps in services to LGBTQ residents and develop resources to address them.
• Community Engagement and Mobilization: Play a role in promoting and collaborating on LGBTQ community events, including those that foster dialogue and increase access to services for the most disenfranchised members of the LGBTQ community.
• Measuring Progress: Develop an evaluation metric to determine the effectiveness of the Office on each of the above responsibilities.