WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — “I would like to say in my lifetime, to be able to see this, it's just absolutely fantastic. I never thought I would see the change that I've seen,” said Christine Samuel, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the City of Winter Haven.
She’s helping leaders foster a more diverse workplace, making everyone feel like they belong, facilitating and transforming community relationships, and fighting for equity.
In fact, Samuel came out of retirement to do this job. She was hired last summer.
"I felt like this was the right time for me to come in this position. And I really, really believe that I can make a difference, and I think I have,” said Samuel.
She said the city is making progress in the way they talk about affordable housing, public safety, and community improvement grants. They’re also in the process of creating an advisory committee so that people can have a voice.
“I know we have a lot of challenges. But I think that with people having a heart, you have a heart. And together we can make a difference. And I'm seeing that happen,” said Samuel.
She tells us Black people make up about 28% of Winter Haven’s population, and she’s been working hard to make sure they feel heard and included.
"At first, they didn't feel like they had a voice, you know, I would come hear them. But I think that from us going to meetings with them, and working with them has really brought about that change,” said Samuel.
While they still have a long way to go, Samuel says the city is focused on creating a future for everyone.
“I truly believe that we're at a time right now where we're making a change for this city. And hopefully, the lives that we're touching. It will make it a better place,” said Samuel.