Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday created a new Office of Community Engagement to improve communication and outreach to African Americans and low-income Missourians.
The move follows the turmoil in Ferguson in the wake of Michael Brown’s death.
Nixon appointed a former state senator, Maida Coleman, as office director. Former St. Louis City Municipal Judge Marvin Teer will serve as deputy director and general counsel.
“Across our state, Missouri communities are facing serious issues involving race, educational and economic opportunities, and poverty,” Nixon said in a statement. “The Office of Community Engagement will be responsible for facilitating meaningful communication about these issues that will yield concrete results.
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“Maida and Marvin will get to work immediately to listen, learn, and assess the challenges facing minority and low-income communities across the state, and help to develop specific policies to address them.”
He said the office would be responsible for engaging communities, public and private sector leaders, clergy and citizens across the state in communication regarding critical issues affecting Missouri communities.
The office will also be responsible for assisting in the development of policies and strategies to foster greater prosperity and opportunity for all Missourians. In addition, the Office may make recommendations to the Department of Economic Development, Missouri Community Service Commission, Missouri Housing Development Commission and other boards, commissions and agencies that administer programs designed to assist low-income individuals, urban neighborhoods, community redevelopment and similar activities.