Civil and Human Rights Director Joshua Barr Honored with Make-A-Difference Award

City of Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Director Joshua Barr was honored with the Make-A-Difference award last Monday at the 7th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast. Barr has served as director of the department since 2015 and was recognized for his outstanding work carrying forward the teachings of Dr. King in Des Moines.  

Three Make-A-Difference awards were given at the event, honoring one youth, one adult and one legacy leader.

Civil and Human Rights Department with Make-A-Difference Award.In his four-year tenure with the City, Barr has significantly increased community engagement and launched a new initiative called Bridging the Gap, a series of discussions involving community members, public safety entities, City officials and other decision-makers in Des Moines.

The solution-focused Bridging the Gap discussions led to the implementation of cultural competency and implicit bias training for all City employees in addition to addressing issues of social justice, public safety and economic opportunity.

“Dr. King died trying to ensure that everybody had an economic ladder to move up,” shared Barr. “The work of Bridging the Gap is about bringing people together at the same table who may not agree on how we accomplish that goal, but understand that the work must be done together.”

Bridging the Gap is one item on a long list of noteworthy efforts Barr is carrying out at the City. As the commission gears up for its 34th Annual Civil and Human Rights Symposium, he acknowledged the dedication of his entire team in connecting communities to resources and educating individuals to build a stronger Des Moines.

“The fight for equal opportunity and justice in our communities is not easy work,” said Barr. “We know that Dr. King was able to accomplish the things he did because of the collective strength of his team. We operate in the same way. The work we do gets done because of the dedicated individuals who come here each day with a drive to make a difference.”