Building an Equity-Driven and Culturally Responsive Government Through Authentic Community Engagement

November 25, 2021

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FUSE Corps

Brooklyn Center leaders are focused on building trust and partnerships with residents across all spectrums of diversity, ensuring they are viewed as decision-makers in co-designing city processes and policies. To support this work, the City Manager’s Office will partner with a FUSE Corps Executive Fellow for one year to design and implement a community engagement action plan focused on advancing racial equity.

This fellowship project begins on October 25, 2021, and ends on October 23, 2022. The fellowship begins with a multi-day virtual orientation the week of October 25, 2021. The selected Executive Fellow will begin their first day of providing services to the host agency on November 1, 2021.

PROJECT CONTEXT

Brooklyn Center, Minnesota moved to the national spotlight as city leaders responded to the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot during a traffic stop at the height of the Derek Chauvin trial, sparking successive days of protests earlier this year. City leaders have responded in several ways with passing the Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety and Violence Prevention Resolution, which was named for Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler, a 21-year-old man with autism and mental illness who was fatally shot by officers in August 2019, and through partnering with FUSE Corps to bring in an Executive Fellow to support its public safety reform. These recent events have galvanized leaders to evaluate their internal processes and to establish policies and priorities that are informed by strategic community engagement and aligned with the needs of Brooklyn Center residents. 

The city aims to work better for all people. In light of the tragedies the community has experienced, Brooklyn Center leaders have focused their efforts on building trust and creating a partnership where residents across all spectrums of diversity are viewed as decision-makers in co-designing city processes and policies. Brooklyn Center hopes to reimagine public safety through cultivating a more equitable relationship with its historically underrepresented communities. Leaders at Brooklyn Center want to normalize conversations about race through a shared language, provide staff resources to organize its operations for racial equity and community engagement, and design a community engagement action plan focused on advancing racial equity in the city.

To support this work, the City of Brooklyn Center has partnered with FUSE Corps to bring in an Executive Fellow to examine the internal capacity and infrastructure of the city, design a framework for an equity-driven government, and liaise between both the internal work to build administrative capacity and the public safety project sponsored by FUSE Corps. Ultimately, the FUSE Executive Fellow leading the city’s community engagement strategy will ensure that the internal administrative work and external, community-facing initiatives align, complement, and engage one another when appropriate.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the Executive Fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Executive Fellow and the host agency.

Starting in November 2021, the FUSE Executive Fellowship will begin with building an understanding of the Brooklyn Center community. The review will focus on understanding who are the residents as human beings (beyond demographic data)—what assets they bring to the city as partners and what motivates and inspires them— and review the historical inequities or exclusion that have been perpetuated against the community. The Fellow will also orient on the history of the city with an emphasis on the perspective of historically marginalized residents, review the city’s policies and procedures to identify barriers to advance residents of color steeped in racism from the past, the city’s work that has been (and is being) done to advance racial equity and authentically engage the community. The Fellow will facilitate a listening tour with city leaders, community members, including underrepresented community members, community-based organizations, and other identified stakeholders, to understand the current state of racial equity and the relationship of the city and its residents. The Executive Fellow will review the current guidelines for engaging the community and evaluate what data is collected to assess community engagement and understand how community engagement is evaluated. The Executive Fellow will also research equity-centered frameworks for community engagement in other cities and counties, determine a set of best practices, and assess their applicability to Brooklyn Center. 

Utilizing this initial listening tour with key stakeholders and the review of information gathered, the Executive Fellow will analyze gaps in policy and administrative procedures and devise solutions to mitigate gaps and will also determine barriers to implementing any strategies. The Executive Fellow will also create a strategy and holistic implementation plan with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for internal and external stakeholders. The plan should have a clear, unified vision for the future of the work, emphasizing actionable solutions that create equitable environments and engaged communities by leveling the playing field and enhancing opportunities for traditionally underserved communities. In addition, the plan should include specific recommendation on how to leverage all available partnerships, resources, and the current public safety project for maximum support will also be developed. The plan should include strategies to build internal capacity for the city to support and sustain authentic community engagement in additional to community-facing strategies focused on the development of a more equitable and inclusive Brooklyn Center. Throughout the process, the FUSE Fellow will incorporate community feedback and identify ways for the community engaged in informing the strategies. By the end of second phase, the FUSE Executive Fellow will create a framework for the city to use to guide the development of policies, procedures, and an approach to engage the community in service of ensuring equity.

Working closely with the FUSE Executive Fellow leading the public safety project, the FUSE Executive Fellow leading the community engagement project will pilot recommendations included in the newly developed community engagement strategic plan. The Executive Fellow will then work to initiate recommendations and activities that are most urgent and can be implemented quickly. By October 2022, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the initial implementation of the strategic plan and decisions on recommended programs and partnerships as outlined in the plan. This will include the following: 

  • Conduct a thorough review of the current landscape and engage stakeholdersConduct a landscape analysis, collating all relevant programming, policies, and processes and identify cross-cutting themes; research city history; facilitate focus groups, round tables, listening tours and other mediums of outreach to engage the community and gather information; solicit and incorporate input from stakeholders to build consensus; facilitate ongoing community participation; build new/strengthen existing lines of communication between stakeholders.
  • Research community-based racial equity systems across the country and identify best practices to inform recommendations for the framework– Identify community-based equity-centered frameworks in other cities and counties, determine a set of research-based best practices, and assess their applicability to the Brooklyn Center context; collate relevant information, identify themes and make recommendations for the framework to ensure racial equity progress.
  • Develop recommendations and form a comprehensive strategic plan – Identify a shared vision with the community, the city and other identified key stakeholders and build an actionable plan to implement recommendations that strengthen and improve the quality of life for Brooklyn Center residents; including establishment of a timeline for implementation aligned with the city priorities.
  • Develop implementation framework and roll out recommendations – Establish framework outlining short and long-term goals; timelines; priority areas; clear roles of internal and external stakeholders; coordinate and leverage all resources for maximum impact; oversee implementation of strategies.
  • Support long-term implementation – Identify relevant success metrics, setting benchmarks for tracking progress; support capacity building, creating internal infrastructure and systems; work with leadership across Departments to effectively advance recommendations; measure and broadly share progress towards goals; and integrate accountability mechanisms for long-term deployment and continual evaluation of the framework, ensuring community needs and racial equity are centered in all strategies.

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Mayor Mike Elliott, City of Brooklyn Center
  • Project Supervisor – Reggie Edwards, City Manager, City of Brooklyn Center
  • Troy Gilchrist, City Attorney, City of Brooklyn Center

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Approximately 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in community engagement, particularly with diverse, historically marginalized populations
  • Superior critical thinking, analytical and market research skills with the keen ability to synthesize both qualitative and quantitative information to make a case
  • Deep knowledge and expertise in leading organizational change around diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Track record of success in organizing and increasing community engagement in service of ensuring equity
  • Robust experience in full life cycle project management with a successful track record of taking projects from initiation, planning, execution to closure
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills, easily able to make a business and policy case
  • Cross-cultural agility, relating to a wide variety of diverse audiences
  • Political astuteness, understanding the functionality of City, county, and state in criminal justice or public safety reform, and political sensitiveness around navigating each entity
  • Self-starter with the ability to lead with minimal direction and oversight
  • Superior critical thinking, analytical and research skills with the keen ability to synthesize both qualitative and quantitative information
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills, easily able to make a research-based business and policy case
  • Level-headed and strategic decision-maker who is effective at mapping out program and policy impacts
  • Personable with proven ability to create and deliver powerful presentations; comfortable with public speaking
  • A self-motivated and goal-oriented leader who can also be an independent worker
  • Cross-cultural agility, relating to a wide variety of diverse audiences
  • Strong emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Strong cross-team collaborator
  • Capacity to sustain progress within potentially ambiguous environments
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.
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