The Office of Equity was created in 2016 by Mayor Greg Fischer, to ensure that policies and practices — on matters ranging from hiring and promotions to procurement procedures — throughout Louisville Metro Government align with Mayor Fischer’s commitment to improving racial equity in the city. The Office was created in partnership with the city’s work with the National Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE). The Office of Equity also houses:
Human Relations Commission - whose purpose is to bridge the many ethnic, racial, and religious groups in Louisville Metro through a combination of civil law enforcement and education and outreach. HRC ensures that groups in Louisville participate in civic activities and have a voice in the community by bringing awareness of our diverse populations, and a fundamental need to blend these diverse community characteristics, into a more understanding, supportive, tolerant, all-inclusive society.
Office for Women - focuses on advancing the status of women in our community through education, advocacy and legislation. We utilize collaboration, convene and engagement as vehicles to improve local gender equality and equity through the lens of intersectionality. OFW works to ensure that women have the resources, information, and a quality of life that are necessary for self-determination and self-sufficiency. The broad focus of the OFW includes: gender based violence, human trafficking, social and economic well-being, housing, education, civic engagement, and autonomy.
Lean Into Louisville Initiative - an unprecedented series of presentations, conversations, activities and art exhibits that will explore and confront the history and legacy of all forms of discrimination and inequality in the city and the country. The project encourages and promotes related activities of community partners, schools, businesses, the faith community and others. Many community members and organizations are already doing great work in this area. Lean Into Louisville hopes to lift up that work, through highlighting community-sponsored events on the Lean Into Louisville website and by connecting those groups to further empower each other.
Truth & Transformation Initiative - In partnership with the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC), the Office of Equity is attempting to improve the relationship between LMPD and residents in certain designated police districts through implementation of the Truth and Transformation Initiative by providing:
- Procedural Justice Training to command and patrol staff and all other LMPD personnel by the end of 2022
- Listening Sessions to create dialogue between community members and law enforcement through facilitated conversation wherein community members are empowered to share their voice and feel truly heard, and members of law enforcement gain perspective through honest conversation with the community they serve.
- Narrative Collection in which participants share personal and community narratives of harm to build mutual understanding and empathy and to elevate the voices of community members outside of just listening sessions.
- Fact-Finding, via thorough research, to understand both historical and present-day institutional harms of over policing to our community
- Policy and Practice Change based on community feedback, in order to prevent the same harms from ever taking place again.
This initiative, based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-Apartheid South Africa, is an important part of creating a just, peaceful, and whole Louisville Metro. The beginning and most important aspects of the Truth and Transformation Initiative is the initial step of an acknowledgement that certain populations in our community have been harmed at the hands of the law enforcement. The next step is the training of command and patrol staff, and all other LMPD staff by the NNSC training experts, followed by Listen Sessions for residents and LMPD and engagement of work by a qualified researcher to gather testimony, document harm to the community, and report-out of findings.
Meet Michael Meeks, Chief Equity Officer
Michael Meeks previously served as director of the Office of Equity under the leadership of both previous Chief Equity Officers, providing leadership and administrative support and advice on equity issues. As Chief Equity Officer, Meeks' focus will be continuing to ensure that: transparency remains a high priority, American Rescue Plan Funds are equitably distributed, there is progress made in the area of equity in government procurement and contracting, the Lean Into Louisville initiative stays vibrant and active, and there is progress made in reconciling the relationship between LMPD and Black communities through the Truth and Transformation initiative.