Chief Equity Officer

  • City of Chattanooga
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Nov 24, 2021
Full Time Administration and Management Community and Economic Development Purchasing and Warehouse Other
  • Salary: 130500-159650 USD
  • Apply By: Dec 10, 2021


**This is an Appointed position.**

Chattanooga today is a growing city with great potential that continues to attract attention and accolades from across the nation and the world. From Best Town Ever to Gig City, our city’s reputation for innovation and our high quality of life make us the envy of communities all across the country. New residents and businesses continue to arrive in our city and new amenities, restaurants, and activities are emerging to animate our downtown. Our residents remain deeply involved and engaged in the future of our community, but prosperity and security still remain far out of reach for far too many of our neighbors. And without a strategy and the will to act, these disparities will continue to widen, and our city will never reach its full potential. By acknowledging that some parts of our community have been historically neglected and need more intentional action and investment, Chattanooga can take the first steps in building a more just and prosperous community. 

The City of Chattanooga is conducting a national search for a Chief Equity Officer (CEO) to help lead this work. The CEO is responsible for leading the City’s Department of Equity and Community Engagement (DECE), a recently approved department created to ensure the equitable delivery of City services and to elevate voices who have been impacted by growing disparities rooted in systemic racism. The CEO will report directly to the mayor and have staff capacity to design and implement long-term collaborative initiatives. The design of the DECE and CEO position has been informed by a comprehensive review of best practices from municipal equity offices across the country and counsel from a wide range of diverse community leaders in our city.

The DECE will contain the functions previously served by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the newly created Office of New Americans, and will also perform community engagement and outreach functions. This new department will have responsibilities to address supplier diversity issues and propose policies, programs, and budget decisions to embed a robust and effective equity lens across the city. The City is seeking a dynamic and strategic leader to build organizational capacity and accountability measures across City departments to drive solutions that eliminate structural and institutional inequities. The CEO and DECE will further advance Chattanooga's commitment to equity and put Chattanooga on a path to shared prosperity and common purpose.

Job Description

Top Priorities:

  • In partnership with the Mayor, City staff, and community stakeholders, create and implement the mission, goals, strategies and performance measures of the DECE.
  • Collaboratively contribute to the values, goals and strategic initiatives outlined in Mayor Kelly’s One Chattanooga Strategic Framework, taking leadership roles in work to:
    • Adopt an equity lens across city government, investment and initiatives
    • Foster a welcoming, inclusive, and prosperous city for New Americans
    • Reform city purchasing and procurement practices
    • Invest in historically-underserved neighborhoods
    • Implement practices and policies that ensure transparency and accountability
    • Engage and involve diverse communities in city plans and investments
  • Participate in and advise various community-led engagement initiatives, including advising an equity commission to ensure that the City’s historic American Rescue Plan dollars are invested and accountable to community needs.
  • Support the entire City organization in developing an actionable and clear equity lens to be used in refining and improving the delivery of City services, the allocation of City resources, and the development of the City’s public policy agenda.
  • In partnership with the Chief Financial Officer and senior leadership, intentionally and fully integrate an equity lens in the annual operating and capital budgeting process.

Essential Job Functions:

The CEO will have a budget to fund staffing and program development, including an Outreach Coordinator, Director of Community Engagement, Director of New Americans, New Americans Program Coordinator, and Supplier Diversity Coordinator. The CEO will also play a key role in the Mayor’s senior leadership staff, responsible for bringing a clear perspective to major decisions across the organization. 

  • Develop an equity framework that can be integrated into city government, investments, and initiatives designed to ensure all Chattanoogans are valued and have the capacity to thrive and prosper.
  • Analysis & Program Design:
    • Collaborate with the Mayor's Office and other City Departments on initiatives to increase measurable diversity, inclusion and equity outcomes internal and external to city government.
    • Research, analyze and recommend policy implementation to ensure the City maintains compliance with applicable Federal and State statutes governing civil rights; develops, solicits approval for and implements policies and best practices to further equity and social justice in the City’s work.
    • Develop accountability systems with performance indicators and progress benchmarks to ensure that city services are equitably delivered. Collaborate with the Office of Performance Management & Open Data to document, analyze, and present data at regular intervals for internal review & public access.
    • Create frameworks and policies to ensure that budget decisions use a race and social justice lens and address disparities in underserved areas throughout the City
    • Investigate and pursue funding and partnership opportunities with local and national philanthropic actors. Map potential opportunities to utilize private and philanthropic resources to elevate the needs of marginalized groups. 
  • Community Engagement & Outreach
    • Build effective working relationships, partnerships and networks with diverse communities, and the organizations that serve them.
    • Support Chattanooga’s Equitable Recovery Commission to co-create racial equity solutions with community members and local leaders, including guiding American Rescue Plan investments. 
    • Facilitate new relationships to ensure DECE programs and decisions are guided by the most impacted community groups.
    • Engage the Director of Community Engagement and other related positions to publicize opportunities for residents to become involved in government programs, services and operations.
    • Partner with local philanthropic institutions to help guide, align, and inform their investments and grantmaking, including supporting impact investing efforts and initiatives.
    • Acts as an official representative on equity issues to City departments and the community. Represents the department and/or the City at a variety of meetings, public events, training sessions, on committees and/or other related events or groups in order to receive and convey information.
  • Hiring & Contracting (Internal & External):
    • Partner with the Purchasing Department and Department of Community Development to increase equity in government purchasing and procurement and collaboratively address the issues and opportunities facing minority-owned small businesses
    • Work with the Human Resources department to create and shape educational training opportunities, collect data on hiring trends and demographics, and develop other programs to promote a more inclusive environment for people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ staff.
    • Facilitate and respond to discrimination complaints, working with appropriate departments to ensure that the City is in full compliance with EEOC guidelines.
  • Department Management:
    • Supervises DECE staff to include prioritizing and assigning work; conducting performance evaluations; ensuring staff are trained; ensuring that employees follow policies and procedures; maintaining a healthy and safe working environment and making hiring, termination and disciplinary recommendations.
    • Support and elevate the work of the Office of New Americans to connect immigrant and refugee communities to resources and opportunities to foster a greater sense of belonging and economic security in Chattanooga.
    • Develops and manages the department budget; approves expenditures; reviews financial statements; manages financial operations.
    • Directs and monitors the day-to-day activities and operations of the DECE which includes maintaining, administering and implementing of standard operating procedures, quality assurance standards, policies, goals, objectives, work plans and workflow; ensuring procedures and equipment meet operational and program performance and ensuring compliance with applicable laws, ordinances, codes, rules, regulations, standards, policies and procedures.
  • Performs other duties as appropriate to support equity-related goals of the One Chattanooga framework.

Job Requirements

Education and Experience

  • Qualifications: Any combination of education and experience that would provide the required knowledge, skills and abilities to carry out the above essential job functions. 
    • Education: A Bachelor’s degree in a related field or commensurate experience. A Master’s degree or other advanced degree in a related field is highly desirable. 
    • Experience (or commensurate experience): 5-7 years of experience designing and implementing equity-focused programs and policies. 3+ years of supervisory or managerial experience leading teams to complete high impact projects.

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for the Chief Equity Officer position will be an innovative and visionary leader who has a passion for equity and social justice that is matched with direct experience in driving organizational transformation. Successful applicants will possess most of the following skills and experiences: 

  • Demonstrated ability to build trust with historically marginalized populations
  • Experience in program development, evaluation and redesign
  • Familiarity engaging philanthropy and/or an understanding of impact investing
  • Demonstrated ability to craft and implement visionary change in organizations
  • Group facilitation and communication experience talking about race and equity issues (both internal and public-facing)
  • Experience managing staff and interfacing with community-led committees and coalitions
  • Ability to manage laterally and vertically in a start-up environment (evolving mandate, responsibilities, etc)
  • Experience working with community advocates and the press. 
  • Track record operationalizing rigorous, impactful DEI policies/programs within the context of a large organization
  • Experience building a new department/team within a mid-to-large organization or substantively redesigning an existing one.
  • Knowledge of procurement processes and/or supporting MWBE
  • Experience applying an equity lens to budgeting processes

Special Instructions

Special Requirements

All employees must maintain Tennessee residency from the date of hire. 

Only applicants who provide a valid email address will be notified when the position has been filled.

The City of Chattanooga, Tennessee is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the City will provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities and encourages both prospective and current employees to discuss potential accommodations with the employer.

This is an appointed position. Further details on this employee classification can be found in the Employee Information Guide.

Compensation and Benefits

$130,500 - $159,650, commensurate on experience.

Application Process

To be considered, please send your resume, cover letter, and three professional references to by December 10, 2021. For additional information or questions, please contact  

The City of Chattanooga is partnering with HR&A Advisors to conduct a national search for its first Chief Equity Officer. HR&A Advisors is a mission-driven, employee-owned real estate, economic development, and public policy consulting firm with offices across the country. Working for visionary clients from grassroots activists to elected City and County leaders, HR&A designs strategies that center racial equity and economic justice in policy, practice, and development. HR&A has led numerous executive searches, always building on a close and substantive relationship that extends beyond the search. The City of Chattanooga has partnered with HR&A over the past year to devise strategies to embed equity into its approach to budgeting and governance, joining a network of cities across the country undertaking this work. One result of this partnership is Chattanooga’s new Chief Equity Officer position. HR&A helped to shape this new role based on an understanding of what will be effective in Chattanooga and what has worked well in other cities, and is uniquely positioned to help identify the right candidate to lead this work.

Job Address

Chattanooga, Tennessee United States View Map