Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh has announced the appointment of Dr Kwame Cooper as FDNY’s new Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO). Dr Cooper, who will serve as a member of the Commissioner’s executive leadership team and will hold the in-house title of Deputy Commissioner, is responsible for creating, implementing, assessing and gaining support for diversity and inclusion efforts agency wide. The position of FDNY Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer was created in 2015, and Cooper is the third person to hold the position.
‘Kwame Cooper is a dedicated public servant who has bravely served as a Firefighter and Chief Officer in Los Angeles for nearly four decades, and now brings his unique experience and vast knowledge of fire service, diversity and inclusion to the FDNY,’ said Acting Fire Commissioner Kavanagh. ‘He understands the culture of the Fire Service and knows first-hand what needs to be improved to create a more inclusive environment for all the men and women of the FDNY.’
‘Diversity, equity and inclusion create unique challenges and opportunities for fire service leadership, and throughout my career as a Firefighter – and later leading as a Fire Chief myself – I have overseen important initiatives across the country to meet those challenges head on and improve how firefighters treat one another in the work environment,’ said Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Cooper. ‘I believe inclusiveness is a fundamental principle of leadership, and I am honoured to join the FDNY and help this incredible organization build upon its successes and achieve its goals.’
Deputy Commissioner Cooper will report directly to the Fire Commissioner and will be a member of the executive leadership team, ensuring diversity initiatives are implemented in all bureaus within the department. He will also ensure compliance with Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and Law Department guidelines and will also serve as liaison to employee affinity and fraternal organizations.
About CDIO Kwame Cooper
Born and raised in New York City, CDIO Cooper served 38 years as a member of the Los Angeles City Fire Department, joining the LAFD in 1980. Most recently from 2016 to 2019, he served as Assistant Chief of their Operations Central Bureau. Previously, he served as LAFD’s Assistant Fire Marshal of their Fire Prevention and Public Safety Bureau (2014–2016), Assistant Chief of their Training and Support Bureau (2014), Assistant Chief Employee Relations Officer (2014), and Assistant Chief of their Emergency Services Bureau (2011–2014). Since 2019, he has served as a consultant on the creation of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Fire Chiefs Equity and Inclusion Council. The Council uses qualitative and quantitative research of demographic data to identify and eradicate sources of discrimination, harassment and hiring biases for African American, Hispanic, Women and LGBTQ+ individuals in the Fire and Emergency Medical Services.
He has served as an adjunct instructor at the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute since 1993 where he has trained thousands of firefighters from around the nation in leadership, diversity management and inclusion, executive coaching, public education and risk management. Since 1998, he has also served as an adjunct instructor at the National Fire Academy, teaching subjects to firefighters from around the country including leadership, diversity, public education, and cultural competency in the fire service.
CDIO Cooper holds a Doctorate Degree in Leadership & Organization Development – with an emphasis on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – from Grand Canyon University where his dissertation focused on issues of firehouse climate and diversity. He also holds a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Woodbury University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Studies from Long Beach State University. He is a graduate of the Harvard University Executive Leadership Education Program, the Executive Fire Officer Program from the National Fire Academy, the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute and the Los Angeles Police Department West Point Leadership Academy.
He serves on the Board of Directors for the National Fire Protection Association and previously served on the Board of Directors of the National Fire Academy. He is a member of the Stentorians – the Association of African Americans in the Fire Service – and is also a member of the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs, where he serves as part of a team that develops, implements and instructs an annual Junior and Senior Officer Leadership Academy in the Caribbean and the British Virgin Islands.