Burlington mayor appoints new racial equity director

Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 7:35 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger Thursday announced the appointment of the next director of the city’s office of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

“I’m here, I’m ready to listen and learn,” Kim Carson told a group gathered outside City Hall for the mayor’s announcement.

Weinberger created the REIB department in 2019. The next year he declared racism a public health emergency. Early in 2020, the mayor named Tyeastia Green to be the city’s first racial equity director. She worked for nearly two years as head of the department, including creating the first Juneteenth event in Burlington. But earlier this year Green left the post, leading BIPOC community leaders to blame the mayor for lack of support for her departure. Weinberger has rejected that criticism.

Carson called her appointment a great honor and responsibility she doesn’t take lightly. “I’ve been in an environment where people have been actually actively working against the work, and so to come to a space where people from the highest level are committed from the state level -- and definitely on the city level -- I really want to sit back, see what you’re doing and see where I can add in my expertise in there and see where I can move the work forward,” she said.

Carson comes most recently from Iowa where she served as the director of education and human capital development for the Iowa Judicial Branch, providing strategic leadership for diversity and equity initiatives, according to city officials. She was also a former collegiate track coach and competed at the 1996 U.S. Olympic trials.

“Leading a department with such a broad and critical mandate is a major challenge. I am very excited to be bringing forward for confirmation an individual in Kim Carson that possesses the skills, education, training, work experience, and values to succeed in this key leadership role,” Weinberger said.

The search for Carson had fifteen applicants. Earlier this year, the city committed $2 million to continue the REIB department, which will be rebuilt to 14 staffers. After Green left many others followed, leaving just five staff.

Community leader Patrick Brown was on the search committee and says metrics of success will be BIPOC home and business ownership, along with representation in senior roles in the city. “The REIB department, I should say, is a start, but does need community support, does need internal support from the mayor and city council to accomplish what it needs to accomplish,” he said.

Carson’s appointment will go before the Burlington City Council for approval at their regular meeting this coming Monday.

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