ITHACA, N.Y. –– Tompkins County is looking to hire a Chief Equity and Diversity Officer after postponing their original call for applicants in March.

This is a new senior leadership position in the county administration and, “will be a partner in driving forward the key strategies of the organization,” a press release from the county states. “The Chief Equity and Diversity Officer leads Tompkins County’s commitment and strategy to be a diverse, anti-racist, equitable, and inclusive organization at both the programmatic and administrative levels.”

According to the official job listing the Chief Equity and Diversity Officer will be in charge of gathering data on inequality in Tompkins and providing guidance to department heads, management and elected officials on equity and social justice issues affecting county programs and practices based on their research and analysis amongst other things.

“In the Chief Equity and Diversity Officer we are seeking someone who is a visionary leader, a collaborator and key strategist who can help shape the future of Tompkins County government,” said Lisa Holmes, Tompkins County deputy administrator and interim human resources commissioner.

The search was originally put on hold as part of an organization-wide hiring freeze due to COVID-19 –– in May Tompkins County laid off 96 employees, as well as left 32 vacant positions unfilled.

There has now been renewed interest by local government in social justice as protests continue over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Last week the county announced a new Equity & Anti-Racism Strategy of which this job is a part.

“We knew when we began our research in January 2019 that this was necessary and important work for Tompkins County. As we delved deeper it became clear to us that there was a need for a qualified leader dedicated to this work in our organization to continue moving the needle forward and to affect substantive change here in Tompkins County. I’m grateful that we’re moving forward with this recommendation and look forward to collaborating with Tompkins County’s first Chief Equity and Diversity Officer,” said Rachel Graham the administrative recording clerk and member of the county’s Diversity and Inclusion Infusion team

Dr. Kenneth Clarke, the director of the Tompkins County Office of Human Rights and also a member of the county’s Diversity and Inclusion Infusion team said he believes the position shows Tompkins commitment to the cause.

“The Chief Equity Diversity Officer position symbolizes the priority Tompkins County leadership has placed on centering racial and other forms of equity in its policies, practices and programs,” he said.

There has not yet been word if the county will look to resume hiring for the other vacant positions or bring back any of the laid off employees.

Applications for the Chief Equity and Diversity Officer position must be submitted by July 19, 2020. More information on the position is available here and questions can be directed to Human Resources (607) 274-5526.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at