Athens-Clarke County Manager Blaine Williams has appointed Krystle Cobran as the first Inclusion Officer for the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACCGov).
The Inclusion Office, a division of the Manager’s Office and based in City Hall, is a new office funded by the Mayor and Commission as part of the Fiscal Year 2020 budget that began July 1, 2019. Cobran will begin her role the week of October 20, 2019.
“I am excited that we have found someone of Krystle’s caliber to launch and develop such an important new part of the Unified Government to serve this community in such profound ways,” says Williams. “Her work on inclusion initiatives and background in the law gives her a unique and valuable perspective as we continue to make Athens-Clarke County a welcoming and inclusive community for all residents and visitors.”
The Inclusion Office will work with all Athens-Clarke County departments and offices, but specifically provide strategic collaborations with Leisure Services for youth, Police for safety, Human Resources for recruitment, Finance for procurement, Organizational Development for training, Housing and Community Development for housing, and Economic Development for prosperity. The office will focus efforts on areas including race, color, national origin, religious beliefs, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and disabilities.
“One of the most important parts of my work as we go through this process is to truly listen to all facets of the community as we share our stories,” says Cobran. “I am honored to serve with the Unified Government, and I’m here to listen to your experiences, questions, and concerns.”
Athens-based Cobran founded a consulting business in 2017 that helps leaders and creatives carve a path through difficult conversations about race to transform frustration and unspoken pain into connection and mindful action. Through this business, she led group workshops to increase clarity, productivity, and boost communication, provided one-on-one support for individuals, served as a speaker, and hosted a podcast called “The Space Between Us” that explores life, feelings, and conversations about race.
The business grew out of positive feedback from teaching and designing two undergraduate political science courses as a Visiting Lecturer from 2016 to 2017 at the University of Georgia. During this time, she developed two courses at the intersection of race and the law – Race and the Law, and American Courts, Race and Social Issues – that were conversation-driven and taught primarily by asking questions, listening, and building two-way dialogue.
Cobran’s first book, The Brave Educator: Honest Conversations about Navigating Race in the Classroom, was released this fall by Routledge/Taylor Francis as part of its Eye on Education series. It provides tools to help teachers lead conversations about race in the classroom that prepare students for the world beyond school walls.
Cobran served as a Law Clerk in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia from 2011 to 2012. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Florida, a Master of Public Policy from The College of William and Mary, and a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University Law School. While in law school, Cobran was awarded fellowship positions with the National Center of State Courts and the NAACP, as well as a summer law clerk position with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Inclusion Office is one of the ten goals outlined as part of a scope of work developed by ACCGov and presented to the Mayor and Commission in early 2019. The Manager’s Office and the Housing and Community Development Department worked in conjunction with the Mayor’s Task Force on Inclusion and Equity appointed in 2017 to create this scope of work as part of a community diversity, equity, and inclusion plan.
The scope of work and the Inclusion Office will use targeted strategies and these goals for all stakeholders in the community – not just the government – to understand, appreciate, and promote diversity in the community; begin to bridge the equity gap; and increase economic mobility.