Meet Chinua Rhodes, Director of Community Engagement for Sacramento


Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s office has a new addition to its Community engagement team which was originally established in 2020.

Chinua Rhodes, originally from Sacramento, has been hired as Director of Community Engagement. Rhodes is a community organizer and serves as a trustee of the Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Directors.

The Community Engagement Team organizes residents through civic engagement to ensure they have access to the resources and opportunities provided by the City of Sacramento. The engagement team is the direct link between the community and the mayor’s office, and its goal is to reach underserved people.

Rhodes spoke to The Sacramento Bee about his new position, his fieldwork through the organization, and his future with the school district.

Note: The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: You have a new position. Explain what this new position entails, what will you do?

A: I have a new job. It’s in Mayor Steinberg’s office in the community engagement office. I’m the director of community engagement for the mayor’s office.

Q: Can you tell me what you will be doing as the Director of Community Engagement for the City of Sacramento in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office?

A: My job is to oversee the Mayor’s Communications Office. More importantly, what I see is forging strong links with agencies, community organizations, community members and other service providers to really increase the capacity of the mayor’s office to serve and defend the interests of our residents.

Q: So, Director of Community Engagement, what exactly does this mean for Chinua?

A: I think that’s a very good question. I think this really engages the Sacramento community, as a whole, with the understanding that the heart of the city is not just about geography. It’s about people and our values.

Q: How has your experience prepared you for this new task? I imagine you are going to do a plethora of other things now as far as the community is concerned.

A: I think in short, I’ve always strived to be a coalition builder. Someone who builds on shared values, builds on relationships despite differences and bridges divisions. On the south side, we say, “I’m true to this. I am not new to this area. And like the community part, what we do and how we engage has always been at the center of everything I’ve done throughout my career.

Q: Will you continue to keep your position on the Board of Education?

A: Yes, I will. Certainly always be an administrator of the Board of Education, it is a position duly elected by the people. So I will continue to represent zone five, regarding education and everything related to the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Q: Why was it important for you to get this job?

A: I think this position was very unique. I come from a community organizing background. I was still trying to figure out how and what I could do to put my skills forward to engage Sacramentians. I was lucky enough to get the job. We are here, they let us in and if they let us in, we have to do something with it. I look forward to moving forward and working with the Mayor and our communities and I hope to engage and truly have voices heard as we move forward in building the Sacramento that we would love to see.

This story was originally published November 15, 2021 10:51 am.

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Marcus D. Smith covers black communities for The Sacramento Bee. Marcus is an alumnus of Texas Southern University in Houston. Marcus grew up in Sacramento and is delighted to be back home following his passion for journalism.


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