During the year, the Commission continued to expand its educational efforts, both as to scope of materials and resources, and the number of events in which we participated.
Staff participated in 232 workshops, with 7,239 persons in the audiences and an unknown number reached by media events. The training sessions ranged from one-on-one training with employers or landlords, to large groups of employees or students in a variety of settings. Most of these events come from voluntary requests or contacts; others are mandated as a result of settlement agreements.
The two most requested topics for workshops were preventing sexual harassment and appreciating diversity. Community fair housing seminars are on-going, as well as fair housing training for groups of landlords, managers, housing agencies, and realtors.
New titles were added to the video lending library, and a print library of books on cultural diversity and racism was established. There were 253 uses of the videos, up from 214 uses in the previous year.
Frequent use of press releases keeps the media and public informed of our work. Most exciting was continued expansion of our web site, which contains information on our law and administrative rules, forms and instructions for filing a complaint, Commission hearing decisions, publications, and directories of staff and Commissioners. This can be accessed at www.state.ia.us/government/crc.
Internally, the Training Committee continued to assess and schedule staff training. Guest speakers were brought in for such topics as AIDS awareness, reasonable accommodations for disabilities, public housing/fair housing, and refugee and immigration issues, including representatives of the two newest refugee groups in Iowa, the Bosnians and the Sudanese. Small group training sessions on the use of our new laptop computers were also arranged.
The annual four-day staff training event, "Gator U," was held in May. Topics for staff training included overview of the ADA, administrative law, improved use of our telephone system and voicemail, locating people by use of Internet resources, and Meskwaki history and government.
Conferences held during the year included "Practical Issues in Fair Housing Litigation," which was held at the Neal and Bea Smith Law Center, Drake University, Des Moines. The seminar featured Prof. Michael P. Seng and Prof. F. Willis Caruso of the John Marshall Law School, Chicago. In October, a conference was held for Iowa Local Commission staff and commissioners. A training seminar for Volunteer Mediators was held in June.
The Friends of Iowa Civil Rights, Inc., a non-profit organization founded to further civil rights efforts in Iowa, continued its organizational activities. Its first major event, a banquet and awards ceremony, was held in October. Mary Louise Smith, former chair of the Republican National Committee and former member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, was the keynote speaker. The individuals and businesses receiving awards for their civil rights work were chosen as a result of nominations from the public. A similar event is planned for October 1997.