After a national search and an extensive interview process, the City of Portland is pleased to announce it has hired Umaru W. Balde as its first Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (JDEI) Director. He will begin in his role in April. Balde is fluent in English, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Hebrew, as well as these dialects: Fulani, Creole (Portuguese and English), various Arabic and African dialects.

The City sought to create this position, and included funding for it in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, following the recommendations of the Council-appointed Racial Equity Steering Committee (RESC). He will also help facilitate the City Council’s 2023 goal of looking at everything it does through a lens that prioritizes racial, social and justice equity.

Balde will also advise the city manager on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusive practices throughout the city of Portland, both within government and throughout the broader community. Additionally, he will perform professional and organizational duties related to the equitable and inclusive delivery of services and operations, as well as administrative policy.

Balde will relocate from Iowa where he was most recently the Director of the Multicultural Family Center for the City of Dubuque. Prior to that he was an investigator for the Civil Rights Commission for the City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Balde is currently a doctoral candidate (Ed.D) at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa, with an anticipated completion in spring 2025. He holds a Masters in PostSecondary Education and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Northern Iowa.  Additionally, he has attended the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel for Hebrew language studies; and has a Masters in Comparative Religions and a Bachelors in English Literature from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.

He will earn $113,168 annually.