Mayor Greg Fischer announced the appointment of two new key officials with the aim of improving the city’s resilience and improving racial equity.
Eric Friedlander will be Louisville Metro’s Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), leading the city’s efforts to help prepare for, withstand, and bounce back from chronic stresses and acute shocks. The CRO is an essential element of Louisville’s partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation.
Kellie Watson will be the city’s Chief Equity Officer, leading the city’s bid to improve racial equity within Louisville Metro’s policies and practices. Equity is a key component of resilience and the two officers will work closely together.
“Our city has been experiencing exceptional growth over the past seven years — $9 billion in investments, and tens of thousands of new jobs. But we have to make sure we’re growing the right way,” Mayor Fischer said. “Under Eric and Kellie, our resilience and equity efforts will collaborate — because we know our most vulnerable citizens are often the hardest hit by crises. Together, they will move forward to strengthen and better prepare our city for the big challenges of today and tomorrow.”
Friedlander transitions to the Chief Resilience Officer role after serving since December 2015 as director of the city’s Department of Community Services. He previously served as deputy secretary of the state Cabinet for Health & Family Services and other agency leadership roles.
Friedlander will oversee the development and implementation of a comprehensive Resiliency Strategy for the city. The new position and resiliency efforts are funded and supported through 100 Resilient Cities, which last year selected Louisville to join its network aimed at building urban, environmental and economic resilience.
“My career has been focused on health and human services,” Friedlander said. “The people who are often the first to be hurt in catastrophes big or small, sudden or slow-moving, are often the people who have the least resources. Cities must plan for how to respond to the shocks and stresses found at the intersection of race, poverty, the environment and the economy. I am excited to begin the process of creating Louisville’s Resilience Strategy.”
“Eric will be a key leader in helping Louisville better understand its challenges and develop the solutions to solve them in an equitable and impactful way,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “Eric will lead the city’s resilience building efforts and will bring Louisville significant benefits in the form of private sector contributions, technical expertise, best practices from around the world, and more.”
The CRO will work within city government to break down existing barriers at the local level, account for pre-existing plans, and create partnerships, alliances and financing mechanisms that will address the resilience vulnerabilities of all city residents, with a particular focus on low-income and vulnerable populations. The CRO will focus on issues such as:
The CRO will oversee the Department of Community Services, which will be renamed the Department of Resilience and Community Services, and will work closely with the city’s Office of Sustainability and Office of Health Equity to develop and implement the Resiliency Strategy.
Watson assumes the Chief Equity Officer role following nearly three years as the city’s General Counsel. She was previously the city’s Human Resources Director and the Director of the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission.
Her new assignment will focus on ensuring that policies and practices — on matters ranging from hiring and promotions to procurement procedures — throughout Louisville Metro Government align with Mayor Fischer’s goal of improving racial equity in the city. Both the Department of Human Resources and the Human Relations Commission will report to Watson.
“Louisville Metro reaches citizens in countless ways every single day, and it’s important that we’re always mindful of racial equity as we go about our work,” Watson said. “Mayor Fischer’s goal of ensuring our city is a platform for helping citizens reach their full potential can only be achieved through working toward greater racial equity.”
The new Chief Equity Officer position is part of Mayor Fischer’s efforts to focus on equity issues in Louisville, which included a 2016 city leadership retreat and the city’s work with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity.
“Eric and Kellie are experienced and respected leaders in our city government,” Mayor Fischer said. “They have the know-how to identify and implement concrete steps to make Louisville more resilient and equitable, which benefits every resident in every neighborhood of our city.
“We’re looking to these two outstanding civic leaders to concentrate their efforts — independently and collaborative — to build a more resilient, equitable city.”
Mayor Fischer today also announced that Jeff Mosley will be the city’s new general counsel, and Gena Redmon will become Director of the city’s Department of Resilience and Community Services.
Mosley most recently served as Deputy Chief of Louisville Forward, the city’s integrated economic and community development arm. He’s previously served as general counsel of state agencies, including with the state Finance & Administration Cabinet.
Redmon most recently served as Deputy Director of Community Services, and previously served in the Executive Administrator roles for OMB Grants Administration and Community Services.