Asheville, located in Western North Carolina, is the eleventh largest city in the state with a population of 89,121 (U.S. Census est. July, 2016). The city government has a history of implementing racial and economic policies and practices which has resulted in racial segregation, disparities in income and education indicators and tense relationships between city government and residents.
In January 2016, Asheville City Council created a 20-year vision for the city. This Council vision reflects Asheville’s unique character and the aspirations for the community. Council plans to use the vision as a guide when developing policies and priorities. Asheville Vision 2036 includes a diverse community working toward equity and inclusion:
“Asheville is an inclusive, diverse community. We define diversity broadly, including but not limited to all races, ages, sexual orientations, gender identification, socio-economic backgrounds, and cultural beliefs. We have created a fair and balanced society where everyone can participate and has the opportunity to fulfill their potential because they have access to healthy, affordable food, transportation, quality education, and living wage jobs. Asheville promotes and supports minority business as a means of strengthening our local economy. We use a racial equity lens to review and achieve our city’s strategic goals in health, education, housing, and economic mobility. “
In an effort to create a framework, develop resources, and achieve meaningful progress towards this component of the Vision, the Fiscal Year 2017 budget included funding for the development of diversity and equity initiatives. The development of such efforts includes evaluation of the City’s efforts to equitably engage with and deliver services to the community and will include areas of study such as representation on boards and commissions, public input opportunities, and contracting and infrastructure investments.
Participating in GARE will support the work in the city of Asheville and those who lead and implement the work to eliminate disparities and pursue and equitable and inclusive city in Western North Carolina.
Asheville hired an Equity and Inclusion Manager July 2017 who is responsible for designing and leading an equity and inclusion initiative which will integrate existing programs and practices into a coordinated citywide effort toward achieving equity. The Equity & Inclusion Manager will also create and seek opportunities for engaging and partnering with residents, community groups, and community organizations to advance racial equity.
Kimberlee Archie has worked in nonprofits, public administration and higher education for twenty years. She has operated as a consultant for nonprofit agencies, small business, and community-based groups to add capacity and conduct training and learning opportunities on subject matter including strategic planning, cultural competence, inclusive outreach, workforce development, and youth development. Currently she is the Equity and Inclusion Manager for the City of Asheville, leading and coordinating the city government’s effort to developing an equity and inclusion initiative that will operationalize an equity lens into city wide policy, programs and budget decisions to advance and support equitable service delivery to the community.