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Statement from Valley Water CEO Rick Callender on racist actions by The Silicon Valley Organization

October 28, 2020
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CEO Rick Callender
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As an African American CEO, I am disgusted, hurt and deeply offended by The Silicon Valley Organization's (SVO) racist attempt in a political campaign to use a civil rights era picture of African American men to stir up racial fear and hatred.

Using these images to suggest there should be something to fear or distrust or other stereotypical issues associated with African American men should not be allowed in political campaigns, in the community, or from those who purport to represent us as industry associations. 

This is not about the election cycle; this is about trying to incite people to be fearful of me, an African American man, in my own community, which I live and work. This racist act is unacceptable.

On Sept. 22, 2020, the Valley Water Board of Directors stated Valley Water's stance on Racial Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and approved these guiding principles:

  • Stand up against acts of racism, exclusion, and abuse of power in our organization and our community.
  • Go beyond diversity and inclusion and build cultural competence and address issues of racial inequity to become an anti‑racist, anti‑hate organization.
  • Combat hate, discrimination, and unfair treatment against all people.

Today, words are no longer enough. We cannot disapprove in silence and expect change. After more than 44 years of membership in the SVO, I am rescinding Valley Water's membership and removing our representation from the SVO Board of Directors. We must hold those in power accountable and demand equality for all.


Valley Water manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 2 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 275 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.