Implementing a Framework to Advance Racial Equity in Milwaukee County

May 18, 2022

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Milwaukee County recognizes that institutional racism plays a critical role in these inequities and disparities plaguing their community, and in 2022 formed its Office of Equity (OoE) to drive Milwaukee County’s efforts to shift its institutional power and dismantle racist policies and practices. The OoE will partner with a FUSE Executive Fellow for one year to increase coordination of the County’s ecosystem of equity initiatives and build enterprise-wide and regional capacity to strengthening the County’s internal and regional racial equity infrastructure.

This fellowship project begins on July 25, 2022, and ends on July 24, 2023. The fellowship begins with a multi-day virtual orientation the week of July 25, 2022. The selected Executive Fellow will begin their first day of providing services to the host agency on August 1, 2022. 

PROJECT CONTEXT

It is the unfortunate reality that every American metropolitan area struggles with income inequality, concentrated poverty, unequal incarceration rates, disparate health outcomes, and poor overall quality of life for people of color. Milwaukee is not unique in the comprehensive issues faced by its communities of color, now the majority population in the County per the 2020 census. 

Milwaukee County recognizes that institutional racism plays a critical role in these inequities and disparities plaguing their community. And the County is committed to making authentic and lasting change. The County is led by the vision that Milwaukee will be the healthiest County in Wisconsin by achieving racial equity. By dismantling institutional racism in its organization and building policies, practices, and a culture that ensures race no longer predicts health outcomes, Milwaukee County can ensure outcomes for everyone will improve. 

To this end, in 2022, the County formed its Office of Equity (OoE). OoE plays a critical role in recognizing and resolving the County’s racial inequities and provides advice, guidance, training, and technical assistance to normalize, operationalize, and institutionalize racial equity within the County’s operations, policy, and programs. OoE builds upon the work of the County’s Office on African American Affairs which enabled the County to pass a first-of-its-kind resolution declaring racism a public health crisis, after which 170 other jurisdictions followed suit; joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) to receive additional technical assistance; trained more than 3,600 county employees in racial equity and implicit bias; and developed and implemented a racial equity tool to analyze the racial impact of cuts and investments on the 2020 and 2021 budgets, among other initiatives. OoE is now empowered to drive Milwaukee County’s efforts to shift its institutional power and dismantle racist policies and practices.

To support these efforts, Milwaukee County’s OoE will partner with FUSE Corps to host an Executive Fellow for one year to increase coordination and build enterprise-wide and regional capacity to advance health and racial equity throughout all 19 municipalities in Milwaukee County. The Executive Fellow will evaluate the County’s ecosystem of equity initiatives, support racial equity capacity building across County departments, strategic plan strategy teams, special initiatives, and municipalities, and help implement strategies grounded in a county-wide shared vision of equity, strengthening the County’s internal and regional racial equity infrastructure.

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 July 2022, the FUSE Executive Fellow will work quickly to build deep relationships with a wide range of critical stakeholders, including staff across County departments and municipalities, and technical assistance providers. Utilizing this initial listening tour with key stakeholders, the Executive Fellow will conduct a landscape assessment of the County’s ecosystem of internal equity initiatives. The Executive Fellow will evaluate this equity ‘census’ and develop a baseline for how equity concepts have been integrated throughout departments. Concurrently, the Executive Fellow will evaluate similar efforts across the County’s 7 strategic plan strategy teams and 19 municipalities to understand the extent to which they are promoting racial equity across County government structures and operations.

Next, the Executive Fellow will support integrating an enterprise-wide race and equity framework stemming from this analysis. This framework will establish a shared set of standards, processes, and definitions around equity and racism. The Executive Fellow will work closely with County leadership to determine how best to share and disseminate these best practices, scale successful initiatives, and promote new processes cross-departmentally. The Executive Fellow will be part of the OoE team responsible for establishing clear messaging and communication infrastructure to facilitate change across departments and municipalities and bring along stakeholders who are unfamiliar with how racial equity might play out within their spheres of influence. Through this framework, the Executive Fellow, in concert with OoE, will connect the disparate equity efforts that have been launched across the County.

The Executive Fellow will also play a critical role in mobilizing and institutionalizing this framework, building enterprise-wide and regional capacity. This will possibly include the design and launch of an ‘equity innovation lab.’ The Executive Fellow will research government-based innovation labs and six-sigma models nationally, assessing applicability locally, and review the equity ‘census’ to ensure resources address cross-cutting gaps and opportunities. The Executive Fellow will consult various staff and stakeholder groups during the design phase to ensure the lab can serve as a one-stop shop for technical assistance. The lab may offer training, workshops, and rapid innovation sessions across racial equity concepts and data, all in support of increasing cross-departmental and cross-sector coordination, breaking down silos and developing new strategies to integrate racial equity into all county-connected systems, processes, policy, and programs. 

By July 2023, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the enterprise-wide race and equity framework’s implementation. This will include the following:

  • Conduct a thorough review of the current landscape Conduct an in-depth landscape analysis of each department’s processes, programs, and policies related to equity; map gaps, identify cross-cutting themes, determine technical inefficiencies and concept barriers; research national best practices
  • Develop guidance to integrate a race and equity framework across County systems – Produce a toolbox that includes a shared set of standards, processes, and definitions around equity and racism; develop guidance for integrating the comprehensive framework and potentially altering current policies, programs, and investments; flag cross-departmental, cross-municipal, and regional opportunities to implement pilot projects that work to reform policies, programs, or investment strategies
  • Engage stakeholders and catalyze buy-in – Solicit and incorporate input from stakeholders to build consensus around changes, strengthen existing lines of communication between stakeholders; form a strategy for culture change, with clear messaging and technical resources; communicate the value derived from approaching work with a racial equity lens to win and maintain support for the movement towards systems change; balance between stakeholders who want efforts to move forward more quickly, and those who might hesitate or require more education and outreach
  • Build enterprise-wide capacity – Implement strategies considered low-hanging fruit, including the build-out, refinement, and launch of an ‘equity innovation lab;’ coach stakeholders on actively applying principles of racial equity to all internal and external policies, practices, and decisions; determine a mechanism to track and monitor the work occurring in departments and across municipalities and sectors, and identify ways to measure impact, setting benchmarks for tracking progress
  • Support long-term implementation – Work with leadership across the County to effectively advance strategic plan priorities and recommendations; create internal infrastructure and systems to manage cross-cutting changes; measure and broadly share progress towards goals

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Jeff Roman, Chief Equity Officer
  • Project Supervisor – TBD, Director of Equity Operations, Office of Equity
  • Project Support – Isaac Rowlett, Director of Strategy, Office of Strategy, Budget and Performance

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Approximately 10 years of professional experience in a relevant field, having a solid grounding in diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI), and change management
  • Background in project management and process improvement initiatives preferred
  • Experience with organizational development at a large institution
  • Innovative thinker, having rolled out new frameworks and initiatives at a systems level
  • Proven collaborator, having built partnerships and consensus across stakeholders
  • Familiarity in working in a bureaucratic environment, prowess in managing delicate situations or stakeholders
  • Strong record of success engaging a variety of cross-sector stakeholders and managing cross-functional teams
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills
  • Proven ability to make and deliver powerful presentations with ease in public speaking
  • Capacity to sustain progress within potentially ambiguous environments
  • Cross-cultural agility, relating to a wide variety of diverse audiences
  • Strong emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills
  • Self-motivated and goal-oriented leader who can also be an independent worker
  • 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.