Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced the appointment of Tyeastia Green as the City’s first Director of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (REI&B). Tyeastia brings experience working with municipal employees on race and equity issues in Bloomington, Minnesota.
“Breaking down the barriers of institutional racism and implicit bias requires hard, detailed, and sustained organizational work,” said Mayor Weinberger. “The creation of this role represents a milestone in the City’s decades of efforts to advance equity. I am excited and grateful that Tyeastia has agreed to relocate to Burlington to help lead this critical work.”
Mayor Weinberger and the City Council created this position in September 2019 to further advance the City’s work on equity and inclusion. At the time, Mayor Weinberger said that the position represented an important next step for racial equity and inclusion within the City, and was hopeful that the creation of the position would bring new focus and energy to this work.
Tyeastia will bring many strengths to the REI&B Director role, including:
· Experience developing racial equity programs, including a Start Seeing Color campaign, Racial Equity Toolkit, and antiracism trainings for municipal employees in Minnesota; and
· Background in teaching, creating racial affinity groups, and leading discussions on race and antiracism in higher education.
Tyeastia began her career working in Information Technology and transitioned to the public sector in 2015. She is moving to Burlington from Minneapolis for the position, having most recently worked for the City of Bloomington, Minn. At the City of Bloomington she worked with a team to create the City’s first Racial Equity Toolkit, a policy document to inform decisions the City makes through the lens of racial equity. While with the City of Bloomington, Tyeastia also developed the Start Seeing Color campaign to bring visibility to race. Tyeastia has earned a graduate degree in Public Affairs-Antiracism/Racial Social Justice and Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, which she pursued out of a desire to give back to her community and change racial disparities and outcomes.
“I am excited about this position because of its focus on inclusion, and specifically, working toward normalizing the ‘others’ and doing it through engagement, facilitation, and education,” said Tyeastia. “I understand that being a part of the Black, Indigenous, Person of Color (BIPOC) community is not monolithic. We are all striving individually and collectively for equality and equity. Because of that, I want to use my leadership to be an influencer to change the narrative. I want to change how race is used as being a detriment to being used as an asset. I once heard a quote that said, ‘the people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world, are the ones who do,’ and I want to change the world.”
Tyeastia and her wife are relocating to Burlington in March.
Creation of the Position
In 2014, the City published a Diversity and Equity Strategic Plan and established a Core Team of senior City staff and community members to consult on City decisions through an equity lens. The Core Team played a valuable role over the last five years as the City pursued numerous diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, including consistent strong law enforcement responses to hate crimes, aggressively opposing the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, making some progress diversifying our workforce, expanding implicit bias training of our police and senior officials, altering police practices, and more.
The passage of nearly five years since the writing of the strategic plan, and changes to the national, state, and local landscapes, prompted the Administration to take stock of these efforts. The position of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director was conceived of in order to create a single point of contact and accountability for racial justice initiatives within the Administration, and charge one person with a mandate and capacity to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives day in and day out.
During the hiring process, Tyeastia proposed changing the title of the position to the Director of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. She shared that in this field, professionals are moving away from the term “diversity” because it reinforces the separation of black and indigenous people of color from a majority white population. Replacing this word with “belonging” will more accurately characterize the intended work of this position, which is to create a sense of belonging and inclusion for people of all backgrounds in the City.
Search Process for the Director of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
For this search, the City was specifically looking for someone who could form a new department in the City and revisit the City’s Diversity and Equity Strategic Plan from 2014.
The search began in November 2019. The process included:
· Posting the position locally, state-wide, and nationally, as well as specific outreach to diverse communities and supplemental recruitment efforts through the Mayor’s Office.
· Assembling a search committee to review resumes that met the minimum requirements and conduct initial interviews of both Vermont and out-of-state candidates. The search committee members were:
o Jordan Redell, Mayor’s Chief of Staff
o Brian Lowe, City’s Chief Innovation Officer
o Sharon Bushor, City Councilor for Ward 1
o Hal Colston, State Legislator and Director of Partnership for Change
o Phet Keomanyvanh, CEDO Community Development Specialist
o Lynn-Ellen Schimoler, member of the Mayor’s former Core Team
o Wanda Heading-Grant, Vice President for Human Resource, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at the University of Vermont
o Vanessa Santos Eugenio, City’s HR Talent, Recruitment, and Training Specialist
· Tyeastia visited Burlington at the end of January and met with additional City leaders and community members.
At the conclusion of the search, Tyeastia’s commitment to racial equity work and experience working in a municipality demonstrated that she is the right person to take on this position. Tyeastia will begin in the position the on April 6.