A man from Tacoma, Washington has been hired by Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson as Anchorage’s first chief equity officer. Clifford Armstrong III’s confirmation hearing before the Anchorage Assembly is part of Tuesday’s agenda.
Armstrong will, beginning on April 26, earn $115,003.20 ($55.29 per hour) in the position that is appointed by and serves at the discretion of the mayor.
Armstrong graduated from Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in African history. He has a master’s degree in international studies from California State University San Bernardino. Since 2017 he has worked as equity in contracting and workforce development program manager for the City of Tacoma. Some of his other work listed on his resume can be best encapsulated as social justice community organizer.
The position of equity officer is new in city government in Anchorage, created by former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and approved by the majority of the progressive Anchorage Assembly last July. The position is separate from an already existing equal opportunity officer position, which is in charge of making sure employees and people doing business with the Municipality of Anchorage are treated fairly.
The equity officer is in charge of giving more resources to minorities and the LGBTQ community so they may advance more quickly and have greater success than white participants. It’s not about a level playing field but about an unequal playing field that gives the advantage to some people at the disadvantage of others.
According to Vice President Kamala Harris, “Equality suggests, ‘oh everyone should get the same amount.’ The problem with that, not everybody’s starting out from the same place. So if we’re all getting the same amount, but you started out back there and I started out over here, we could get the same amount, but you’re still going to be that far back behind me. It’s about giving people the resources and the support they need, so that everyone can be on equal footing, and then compete on equal footing. Equitable treatment means we all end up in the same place.”
According to the original job description from Berkowitz, the chief equity officer will:
- Co-lead Welcoming Anchorage initiative and ensure ongoing updates and implementations;
- Develop leadership opportunities for municipal staff and residents designed to provide career advancement pathways for communities of color, the disability community, immigrants and refugees, LGBTQ+ residents, including continued hosting of an annual Civic Engagement Academy;
- Provide leadership, guidance, training, and support to internal and external partners in the development and delivery of equity programs and tools;
- Recruit and manage municipal boards and commissions to ensure community representation;
- Actively monitor equity:
- Establish baseline equity data targets/benchmarks in collaboration with partners and establish goals and initiatives to make progress and processes to track outcomes;
- Develop methods to determine how disparate impacts will be documented and evaluated;
- Collect, evaluate, and analyze indicators and progress benchmarks related to addressing systemic disparities.
- Direct, evaluate, and coordinate analyses and recommendations regarding race and equity policy issues and long-range plans to address department and community needs and services;
- Develop and coordinate reports and supporting materials to be presented to the Mayor and Assembly for information or action;
- Ensure municipal compliance with Language Access laws;
- Work closely with the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, the Ombudsman Office, and the Resilience Subcabinet
- Represent equity concerns throughout municipal efforts on housing equity, food security, equitable climate action, legal rights and justice issues, and economic equity
- Develop and deepen relationships with community members and non- profits committed to racial equity work; and participates in community equity collaborations on behalf of the Municipality to identify and address cumulative impacts of institutional and structural inequities in the Municipality.