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City of Austin announces new Civil Rights Officer



The City of Austin has identified Carol Johnson as the City’s first Civil Rights Officer. Ms. Johnson will start her new position on February 16, 2021.

The new Civil Rights Officer is responsible for supporting department programs and initiatives as it relates to all six of the Strategic Outcomes outlined in Strategic Direction 2023. The Civil Rights Officer reports to the Deputy City Manager and will develop and monitor a clear vision for the Civil Rights Office, advance the City’s non-discrimination efforts, and promote outreach, education, and awareness events for both businesses and community stakeholders.

“I am very happy to have Carol Johnson join our team as the City’s first Civil Rights Officer. Her extensive experience in civil rights matters will be instrumental in driving the department’s programs for establishing goals, policies, and best practices that address racial equity, social equity, and inclusion for City of Austin residents,” said Deputy City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde.

Ms. Johnson previously worked as the Executive Director of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission, serving under the last three Arkansas governors in a bi-partisan capacity. Ms. Johnson has nearly 20 years of experience in public administration and executive governance and was instrumental in developing a newly formed Civil Rights agency overseeing 75 Arkansas counties.

“I’m honored to be appointed as the City of Austin’s first Civil Rights Officer and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead in leading the City’s Civil Rights Office toward providing racial and social equity and inclusion for Austin residents,” said Ms. Johnson.

Ms. Johnson also formerly served as the State of Oregon Civil Rights Director, as Director for the Programs and Compliance Branch of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and previously advised State Labor Commissioners on matters related to Civil Rights and Worker Rights in Oregon and Arkansas.

Other highlights from Ms. Johnson’s background include:

  • Founding Executive Director of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission.
  • Former Chair of the Arkansas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
  • Former Gubernatorial appointee to the State of Oregon Public Safety Training and Standards Task Force created to address concerns of racial inequity in interactions between law enforcement and people of color.
  • Former Mayoral appointee to the Portland Police Citizen’s Review Committee, an advisory body to the Portland Bureau’s Independent Police Review (IPR) and Internal Affairs Committee.
  • Current 2nd Vice President of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA), an international association empowered to provide opportunities and forums for the exchange of ideas and information among member agencies and other human rights advocates.
  • Ms. Johnson holds a Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law and degrees from the University of Arkansas and Texas Christian University.

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october 2021