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National cities group rates Federal Way's diversity efforts among best

By PAT JENKINS

The Mirror

Kim Hensley has two telephone numbers at Federal Way City Hall: One for speaking in Korean, the other in English.

That says a lot about her role as Korean liaison for the municipal government, and why the city was honored nationally this week for its efforts to bring cultures together.

The National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO), a constituency group of the National League of Cities, included Federal Way among seven cities in its annual City Cultural Diversity Awards. The others are Louisville, Ky., Little Rock, Ark., Phoenix, Ariz., Enterprise, Ala., West Palm Beach, Fla. and Durham, N.C.

The awards were presented Monday during the League of Cities’ congressional city conference in Washington, D.C. In an awards ceremony, NBC-LEO president Felicia Moore, a City Councilwoman for Atlanta, Ga., praised the award-winning cities for improving and promoting cultural diversity.

Federal Way sponsors an outreach program, headed by Hensley, to help Korean immigrants overcome obstacles to settling in America. The program advises them on handling everyday challenges, guides them through government procedures and provides translators. It also encourages participation in civic affairs by organizing meetings with city officials to talk about issues and share information from the Korean perspective.

Korean ties –– and some firsts –– run deep in Federal Way. One of its sister cities is Donghae in South Korea. Federal Way helped host a Korean cultural and sports festival here last year. And City Councilman Mike Park, who doubles as mayor, was the first Korean-American mayor in Washington and reportedly only the second in the U.S. when he had his first turn in the appointed post in 2000.

NBC-LEO, established in 1970 to advocate the interests of African-American elected officials in local governments, bases its awards on governance through citizen and community participation.

Louisville was recognized for its work with immigrants and refugees, Little Rock for its WorldFest event promoting equal opportunity and civil rights, Phoenix for commitment to diversity in the city’s workforce, Enterprise for a dinner club that puts people of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds in a social setting, West Palm Beach for a job fair pushing minority participation in employment, business and government, and Durham for pairing city and Latino community leaders in discussions of violent crimes involving Hispanic victims.

More information is available at www.nbc-leo.org and www.nlc.org.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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