The Waterloo Commission on Human Rights is an administrative agency within the City of Waterloo. It was created in compliance with the Code of Iowa Chapter 216.19 that mandates cities with populations of 29,000 or greater to maintain a local civil rights agency or commission. It derives its authority from this Code and the City of Waterloo Ordinance 4064.

In January 1965, Mayor Jochumsen formed a committee to begin working on buffering race relations in Waterloo. Over the next 18 months, thirteen concerned citizens and two mayors drafted the blueprint that established the Waterloo Commission on Human Rights. Under Mayor Lloyd Turner, Resolution No. 16909 was approved on July 7, 1966, establishing the Waterloo Commission on Human Rights. On July 28, 1966, the Commission hired its first staff. Since then, the Commission has worked with eight executive directors: M. Peter Middleton, 1965-1966 [Acting Director] and 1968 to 1970; Roland James, 1966-1968; Willie Mosley, 1970-1974; Betty Jean Ferguson, 1974-1992; James L. Boyd, 1993; Walter Reed, Jr. 1994-2005; David Meeks, 2005 – 2010; and Abraham L. Funchess, Jr., 2010 - Present. Under the leadership of Commission Chair George Meeks and Mayor John R. Rooff, Ordinance No. 4064 amending Chapter 20 Human Rights Commission ordinance was approved on January 4, 1995.

In November 2007, under Commission Chair Jerome Amos and Mayor Tim Hurley Ordinance No. 4064 was amended to include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity.

In February 2014, under Commission Chair Rhonda McRina and Mayor Buck Clark, a critical municipal ordinance was passed to help redress issues related to sexual violence-- Article B. Housing Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence of Chapter 3, Human Rights, Title 5, Police Regulations.


Conference on Human Rights
In March 1998, Mayor John Rooff asked the Human Rights Commission to organize a Race Conference in Waterloo. The Mayor wanted all who attended to feel they could be part of the solution and that their opinion mattered in improving our City’s racial issues. Because of this, the central focus of this conference intentionally focused on the issue of race relations rather than on diversity in general. Since that time the conference has become an annual event. The Conference usually includes a guest speaker, morning and afternoon workshops, and information booths in the lobby. After ten years it was determined to make the conference more inclusive, and now the conference covers a wide range of diversity-inclusion issues, including discussions around sexual violence, disproportionate and over-incarceration, and economic justice. Registration forms are available at the Commission Office.