WASHINGTON — On the first day of Black History Month, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has announced a major step in the city's goal of achieving racial equity.
During a news conference Monday morning, Bowser announced the forthcoming search for a Chief Equity Officer for the District. The officer will be responsible for developing and leading the District’s equity team, convening the District’s ongoing equity initiatives, and advancing the District’s goal of racial equity.
“As we continue our recovery into 2021, we have a unique opportunity to double down on our efforts to put racial equity at the forefront and revitalize systems to ensure a more inclusive and prosperous future for all Washingtonians,” Bowser said.
According to Bowser, the Office of Equity will focus on developing an infrastructure to ensure policy decisions and District programs are evaluated through an equity lens and will be housed in the Office of the City Administrator.
The Equity Officer will collaborate with District agencies, residents, and external stakeholders to make meaningful progress toward a more equitable city.
Bowser said that the hiring of the Chief Equity Officer will serve as the District’s first step toward the establishment of the office put forward in the Racial Equity Achieves Results “REACH Act” (D.C. Act 23-521) – legislation introduced by Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDufffie and passed by the Council of the District of Columbia to legislatively support a citywide focus on racial equity.
“Only by building systems that are intentional in their design to account for our city’s legacy of racism and discrimination and are targeted to expand access will every District resident truly have the same opportunities to prosper in our society,” McDuffie said. “The Chief Equity Officer will be instrumental in our local government’s efforts to eliminate racial disparities and advance the goal of achieving equity in the Nation’s Capital.”
Just last week, Bowser announced the appointment of Linda Harllee Harper to the position of Director of Gun Violence Prevention – the city's first-ever position focused on the issue.
Harper currently serves as the Senior Deputy Director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services in the District; a cabinet-level agency serving youth impacted by the DC Juvenile Justice System. Bowser said Harper will handle "strategic development review and implementation of our gun violence prevention efforts."