Russian Outreach Coordinator
The City of West Hollywood holds itself accountable to the members of its community and is committed to actively seeking public participation. It promotes an open process through which it can respond to constituent’s needs while balancing competing interests and diverse opinions.
The first step that the city took towards responding to the needs of the Russian speaking community was creation in 1995 a position of a Russian Outreach Coordinator in Public Safety and Community Services Department. A major component of reaching the City’s Russian- speaking community was the implementation of a bilingual staff within City Hall. Since, February 1995 the Public Safety Division’s Russian Outreach Coordinator has provided an important bridge to the City’s Russian speakers by offering necessary services. At present, these services include, but are not limited to translating all materials, such as recruitment notices, applications, letters, agendas, staff reports, and meeting minutes.
In addition, the City’s conversation café at Plummer Park is another City sponsored program for Russian-speaking community members. The café has become a wonderful opportunity for Russian-speaking immigrants to practice their English language communication skills, as well as a place where people with different backgrounds can meet and share their interests. The growing needs of the Russian – speaking community prompted the City Council to direct staff to create an Advisory Board, which could focus on the issues of concern to recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Following the direction of the City Council, the Russian Advisory Board of the City of West Hollywood was created in the year 2000.
The Russian Advisory Board
The Russian Advisory Board consists of nine Russian-speaking members who advise the City Council on issues relating to the Russian-speaking Community. Five members are appointed by a Councilmember and four serve as at-large appointees.One of the primary objectives of the Russian Advisory Board is to have new immigrants participate actively in the civic life of the City. This includes translation services, familiarization with the inner workings of local government, assistance in obtaining City and social services, and special cultural events.
The Public Safety Division’s Russian Outreach Coordinator is the City’s staff liaison to the board and provides necessary translation services. The creation of the Russian Advisory Board helps to integrate new immigrants into the City’s decision-making process. The Russian Advisory Board meets monthly with liaison City staff to discuss issues specific to the Russian-speaking communities needs, and to familiarize them with the inner workings of local government.
The Russian Advisory Board’s monthly meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month at West Hollywood City Hall, 8300 Santa Monica Blvd. Meetings are open to the public and offer an opportunity for community members to present their concerns, start dialogue on issues, hear what is happening in the community and become involved in the programming of activities. Meetings are conducted in Russian and English with simultaneous or consecutive translation, they are wheelchair accessible, and disability-related needs can be accommodated upon 48 hours notice. A Russian- speaking staff liaison provides assistance to the activities of the Board and coordinates their monthly meetings.
The Advisory Board is responsible for the creation of several important programs and events targeting the Russian-speaking community. As the result of ongoing efforts of the Russian Advisory Board, the City of West Hollywood has been able to introduce Russian cultural heritage to the community at large. Thanks to the RAB’s activities, West Hollywood has gained a reputation as home for a number of Russian specific programs and activities.