David Velazquez, president and CEO of the Potomac Electric Power Company known as Pepco, stated at a virtual press briefing on Jan. 28 that a joint project that Pepco and the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) have launched this week to “advance equity, inclusion, economic opportunity and social justice” for underserved communities in D.C. will be fully inclusive of LGBTQ people.
Velazquez and WIN co-founders Rev. H. Lionel Edmonds and Rev. Joseph Daniels Jr. told the press briefing the partnership that Pepco and WIN have created was aimed at pushing aggressively for higher wages and more career opportunities for more District residents and to help expand local and diverse businesses, including minority-owned businesses.
D.C. Council members Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) and Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), who participated in the briefing, expressed strong support for the joint Pepco-WIN effort to boost economic opportunities for D.C. residents.
Through the press briefing’s moderator, Sheila Brooks, the Washington Blade asked whether LGBTQ people, who are a part of the diverse communities the Pepco-WIN program is seeking to help, would be welcome to join in the various aspects of the program.
“Yes, that’s a simple answer, absolutely,” Velazquez said. “We’re looking, again, as I mentioned before, we’re looking to reach out to all the communities, all the residents. You know, when we talk about being inclusive and equitable, that’s what we’re driving for, to be able to include everyone and helping everyone move forward,” he said.
A joint statement released by Pepco and WIN says WIN, which was founded in 1996, is a “broad-based, multi-racial, multi-faith strictly nonpartisan, District-wide citizens’ power organization, rooted in local congregations and associations.” The statement says the organization brings together leaders “across the divides of race, religion, income, and neighborhoods” to push for affordable housing, public safety, and good jobs, among other things.
“This partnership will result in increased hiring and training opportunities for local and diverse residents and increased contracting opportunities for local and diverse suppliers,” Velazquez said at the briefing. “Also, through these existing planned efforts we’re going to be investing millions of dollars in programs and initiatives that will serve low-income households and traditionally underserved communities,” Velazquez said.
“We are proud to partner with Pepco to increase access to good job opportunities in some of the wards with the highest unemployment rates in the District by increasing its local hiring through the D.C. Infrastructure Academy,” WIN co-founder Edmonds said.
The D.C. Infrastructure Academy is a joint D.C. government program that partners with Pepco, unions, local universities and other private sector partners to help D.C. residents find infrastructure related jobs.
“This agreement serves as a nationwide and even global example for what corporate accountability looks like when communities organize to put their interests in racial equity and economic justice on the table,” Edmonds said in referring to the joint WIN-Pepco partnership.