Ozy • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Manager at the Denver Public Library

Ozy is a macro social worker and Denver Public Library’s first equity, diversity, and inclusion manager. As a member of the executive team, she’s in charge of championing the library’s equity efforts and engaging staff to build a welcoming and inclusive culture for its employees and customers. She spends her days considering what it means to create and cultivate spaces where we can bring our whole selves into the work we do and have those selves properly valued and respected.

Ozy, who grew up going to libraries, is a lover of books, chicken wings, deep hugs, and jump rope. She is a consumer of art and a cultivator of spaces for creatives to enjoy one another, specifically people of the diaspora. She’s also a member of the Palmwine Collective, a group of Black femme artists & healers curating creative spaces and content for Black collective healing.

Ozy is intentional about her growth and often steps away from the noise to peel back the layers and discover who she is in the moment, who she is trying to be, what she wants to be, who she thinks she should be, and who her community needs her to be. She shared that the answer to those questions changes every day.

She’s all about connection, community, equity, art, and expression, and is constantly in search of healing and figuring out what that means not only on an individual level but on a collective, societal, and global level. When I asked her to describe Denver in one word she replied, “changing.” Here’s what it means to be her, here.

Who are you?

I am a force of energy most days, but some days I’m really still and quiet. I think I am a person that is learning to surrender to what each individual moment is asking of me and to respond accordingly. To really take the time to not only let myself feel and experience the things that are happening but to listen long enough to know what they’re telling me, what they’re teaching me and what they’re asking of me. And so that’s what I would say is what’s going on inside me these days. If I had to define myself I’d say I am a very passionate promoter of equity, healing and connection. I am the color yellow in human form. I am a sunflower, I am always searching for the sun, always trying to grow, trying to really be as expansive as possible.

What does it mean to be you?

Being me means to always be taking in new things. Being me means feeling deeply. I am incredibly empathetic. I just, I feel a lot, and that makes me really good at what I do. It makes me really good at connecting. It makes me a great social worker and a compassionate human. It’s a very beautiful thing, but it also takes a lot of energy. And so sometimes being me means to be sad and drained. Sometimes it means to be overwhelmed, even by the things that bring me the most joy and set my heart on fire. To be me means to sort of teeter between the extremes, sometimes, but also to really recognize the beauty in both the most dramatic of highs and the most terrifying of lows. Being me means to be constantly searching and seeking. It means to be looking for more wonder, more experience, more connection.

What does it mean to be you here?

To be me here means to be growing and learning. It means to be connecting with and to. It means to be expanding, to be creating abundance. It means to be like sunflowers that take over an area for better or for worse. I feel like I do that with yellow light and yellow energy. For me to be here means to be spreading this forcefield of yellow healing energy and yellow love just throughout everything that I do, throughout every place that I’m in, and every space that I enter.

What do you love most about living in Denver?

There’s so much that I love about Denver! I love the art here. I love all of the creative spaces that I have been so fortunate and so blessed to be a part of. I love the communities that I have been able to connect with. This city has led me to some of the most incredible people I’ve ever known and some of the deepest relationships I’ve ever experienced. I have been able to find some really important healing spaces where I can be my full self and have that held and cherished and nurtured. I love how much this city helps me grow. I love that Denver has four seasons but doesn’t have tons of humidity. I love that so much. I love the mountains, of course. I love how expansive the sky is here. It makes me feel that I can breathe here. It’s one of the first things that really took me in about this place. I remember thinking, wow the sky is so vast here it could swallow me up if I wanted it to and some days I really do want it to.That’s part of is so compelling, I don’t know how to say it articulate it but there’s just something about how vast things are here that really just remind me how small I am and how that is okay. I don’t need to be so large all the time. I can be small sometimes and still feel safe, still feel held by the place around me. I love how I feel here. I feel connected, I feel grounded, I feel like I’m living my purpose. I feel energized all the time. I constantly feel moved to act to work for change. More recently, I’ve been called to slow down, to sit, to rest. I love the people here and what they’ve taught me. I love the environment here as it relates to nature but also the community and sense of home I’ve been so fortunate to feel in so many ways. I don’t, I’m rambling at this point. I guess what I love most about living in Denver is that I love who I am here.

How have your experiences in Denver shaped you?

They have made me who I am.