Education and Outreach
While education and outreach has always been an important part of the Commission's work, this past year more emphasis was placed on increasing the quantity, methods and quality of our outreach program.
Commission staff participated in 229 presentations, seminars,
classes and workshops, up from 204 in the previous year. Frank
Tribble took his "Celebrating Diversity" program to
an widening circle of schools around the state, and David Meeks
did a series of school programs in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area.
Another way of getting our message to the public is the increased
use of press releases to the media when we have accomplishments
to announce. We also continued participation in the "Ask
Iowa" electronic kiosk, which provides interactive video
information on six state agencies. There are now seven kiosks
located around the state.
Staff responded to 4,708 telephone calls requesting information
on civil rights or related topics. (This number does not include
intake calls or individual case-related calls.) With a majority
of calls, response includes sending printed materials on the requested
topic. Over 23,400 pieces of educational materials were sent to
the general public, including two issues of the Communicator,
the Annual Report, Case Reports, brochures and factsheets
on a variety of topics, and EEO and fair housing posters.
In the area of housing, the fair housing educator fielded 1,266
telephone calls, and gave 30 fair housing educational seminars
to a total of 763 participants. Also distributed were 1,391 fair
housing packets, which contain a comprehensive collection of publications
on housing law, rights and responsibilities of both tenants and
landlords, and other resource materials.
Video Lending Library
More titles were added to our video lending library, for a
total of 35 titles on civil rights and related topics. This is
an important service, particularly to employers, as these types
of videos are seldom available through general library collections.
There were 118 loans of videos to employers, other civil rights
agencies, other state agencies, and advocacy groups.
Internally, a Training Committee was established to oversee
the training and education needs of the staff. A variety of sessions
took place during the year in response to expressed needs of staff.
An Employee Resource Library was assembled, with books and audio-visual
materials on personal and professional skills included. The committee
sponsored a series of "Lunch and Learn" programs over
the noon hour, which included both work-related and recreational
topics. A training and orientation program for new employees was
developed, to provide new staff with not only information on the
law and job skills but also with an overview of the total work
of the agency. A similar format will be used for orientation of
newly appointed commissioners.
The training year culminated with a week-long "Gator U" which included topics of interest to all staff. Staff members were instructed to schedule no appointments during the week so that they could give their full attention to classes such as team-building, time management, investigative skills, interviewing skills, locating people needed for investigations, and personal motivation. Several outside experts participated as leaders and speakers. A panel of local attorneys who regularly deal with our agency gave us feedback on ways we could better work together. Evaluations from staff were very positive, and Gator U will undoubtedly be held again in the future.
Fair Housing Conference
A fair housing conference for attorneys was held in Des Moines on April 28, 1995. The conference, entitled "Federal and State Housing Law: What Housing Cases Can Mean to Your Practice," was designed to assist attorneys in representing plaintiffs in housing cases filed under federal law, Title VIII, and state law, Iowa Code Chapter 216. Avery Friedman, nationally known housing attorney, Rick Autry, assistant attorney general for the Commission, and a representative of the Kansas City HUD office, were presenters. The seminar was rebroadcast on the Iowa Communications Network to 12 locations around the state, for those who could not attend the conference in person.
A grant from the Iowa Humanities Board made possible the conference, "A Celebration of Iowa's History of Diversity." The Conference was held in Des Moines on May 12, 1995, with a program aimed at human resource people and educators. The history of Asians, African Americans, Native Americans, Europeans, and Hispanics in Iowa was the focus, as well as diversity programs for employment and school settings.
Friends of Iowa Civil Rights
FY95 also saw the formation of a non-profit group, Friends of Iowa Civil Rights, Inc. The mission of the organization is to successfully raise funds for and assist in the charitable and educational programs and projects of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, or other groups around the state of Iowa who share the same goal of promoting civil rights. The goals are fund raising, making grants and supporting groups in other ways, and educational activities. Current board memebers are Carl McPherson, president; Victoria Bruner, vice-president; Rube Abebe, Jeff Courter, Orlando Ray Dial, and Lorenzo Quintanar.