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City announces hire of Austin's first civil rights officer

Carol Johnson has an extensive background in government roles.

AUSTIN, Texas — The City of Austin on Friday announced the appointment of Carol Johnson as Austin's very first civil rights officer.

The City's recruitment process included input from community groups, residents and City staff. She will be starting her first day on Feb. 16, 2021.

Johnson will be responsible for supporting department programs and initiatives related to all six of the strategic outcomes outlined in Strategic Direction 2023. She will be in charge of developing and monitoring a clear vision for the office, advancing the City's non-discrimination efforts and promoting outreach, education and awareness events for businesses and community stakeholders. She will also drive department programs for creating goals, policies and best practices that address racial equity and inclusion across the city.

Before taking on the new role, Johnson worked as the executive director of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission and has served under the last three Arkansas governors in a bi-partisan capacity. She has about 20 years of experience in public administration and governance. She's also served as the director of the Programs and Compliance Branch for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and she advised the Labor Commissioner on matters related to civil rights in Oregon and Arkansas.

Other highlights from her career 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 vice president for 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.

“Today marks another step forward in our work toward reimagining public safety and protecting the civil and labor rights of all Austinites,” said Austin City Council Member Greg Casar. “This office was created by our new budget, which reimagined public safety and prioritized civil rights. The office will ensure that Fair Chance Hiring rules, anti-discrimination laws, wage protections and other civil rights rules are followed. I look forward to working with Ms. Johnson in our efforts to advance and protect civil rights in our city.”


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