City of Dubuque Leisure Services Manager Marie Ware has named Umaru Balde as the City of Dubuque’s new Multicultural Family Center Director.  He will begin June 1.

As the Multicultural Family Center director, Balde will work with the Multicultural Family Center board of directors to continue to further their mission of empowering all families of Dubuque to reach their potential and building unity through diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Balde, as the lead of the staff of the center, will continue to build upon the programming of the center and expansion of partnerships that have made it so successful.

Multicultural Family Center Board President Chris Johnson said,

“Umaru brings a broad background and international experience to the center.  He exemplifies multiculturalism. He will be a great mentor for our youth.”

“Umaru has lived in eight countries across the globe and, through those experiences, brings a broad set of multicultural and advocacy skills to the position.  He has extensive experience working with diverse populations in a variety of settings and has been involved with youth and marginalized communities in many of his roles,” said Ware. “Umaru is fluent in more than 10 languages and dialects including English, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Hebrew.  I am excited for our community to meet and welcome Umaru."

“As Margaret Mead said, ‘If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentials, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse individual human gift finds a fitting place,’” shared Balde. “It is an honor to be part of this team and I look forward to serving the community of Dubuque to the fullest of my capacity.”

Balde comes to Dubuque after most recently serving as an investigator for the City of Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission. Previously, he was the assistant director of the Latino and Multicultural Services Department with the YWCA of Black Hawk County in Waterloo.  Other experience includes serving as an admissions representative for diverse populations for Hawkeye Community College as well as an educational counselor for the TRIO Educational Opportunity Center at the University of Northern Iowa.

Balde is a member of the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and is vice president of the board of directors of the Iowa United Nations Association. He is a United Nations-certified diplomatic negotiator and is the co-founder of the Cedar Valley Advocates for Immigration and Refugee Rights (CV-AIRR).  Balde is also a civil mediator and has taught English as a second language as a volunteer for the last eight years.

Balde holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa in political science (social and behavioral science) and a master’s degree in higher education leadership.  He also attended the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, for Hebrew language studies and Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, where he received a bachelor’s degree in languages and translation and a master’s degree in philosophy (comparative religions). In addition, Balde is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Northern Iowa.

Balde replaces Jacqueline Hunter who moved to be closer to family.