Meet Your New Commissoner: Betty J. Diggs (7F06)

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Betty Diggs (7F06). Courtesy the Commissioner

On January 2, 2021, 19 newly-elected representatives were sworn in for the five Ward 7 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs). The ceremony, like much of the campaign, took place virtually, with Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray (D) administering the oath of office.

The large incoming class means that many Ward 7 ANCs will meet in January with a majority of their seven seats filled by new commissioners. They come to a difficult job in a difficult time, meeting virtually to help residents confront the all-too-real issues raised and, in many cases, exacerbated by the pandemic, including issues of health, public safety, education and housing.

Commissioners serve two-year terms without pay. Each commissioner represents a Single Member District (SMD) of approximately 2,000 residents. The ANCs’ main role in the District is to be their neighborhood’s official voice in advising the District government (and Federal agencies) on things that affect their neighborhoods.

Meet your newly elected representative below. Learn more about ANCs by visiting anc.dc.gov.

Betty J. Diggs (7F06) is a native Washingtonian who has lived most of her life in East River Heights. She is the product of DC Public School and a graduate of Howard University. Before retiring, Diggs worked for the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, supervising the Child Protective Services and then Adult Protective Services departments.

A long-time activist in the community, Diggs worked to aid neighbors and beautify streets in the 1990s with the Northeast Neighborhood Committee. In 2019, Diggs won an MPD Citizen Award for creating Porch Patrol, a program that builds relationships between officers and residents via front-stoop conversations. Recently, she created the Dialogue with the Elders program to bridge a disconnect between returning citizens and seniors active in the community.

Diggs said one of the reasons she ran for office was that she noticed an increase in violent crime in the area over the last two years. A new neighbor returning home from the metro station after work one afternoon was brutally beaten and robbed. Another was getting ready to go upstairs to bed when a bullet passed through a front window, narrowly missing her. Diggs had been working alongside MPD, but said these incidents were a wake-up call. “Those things really convinced me: we really need to do more,” she said.

In conversation, neighbors also described a pattern of drawn-out processes and slow responses to community concerns from District agencies. Knocking on doors during the campaign, Diggs said she found that every street struggled to have an issue addressed. On 35th, there was concern about structural damage to homes from the daily CSX trains. On 34th, it was a need for speed bumps. “So every street, almost, has a different concern —and I want to make sure I’m able to address every one,” Digg said.

Working together to amplify community voice is key, she said. “I believe in community-building and I believe in an organized community,” Diggs said, “and I think that by us becoming more organized, that will be an impetus for critical positive change in our neighborhood.”

Reach Commissioner Diggs at 7F04@anc.dc.gov