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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Council members seek more diversity on commissions
Wednesday, October 6, 2021 by Jo Clifton
Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison, Council Member Alison Alter and Mayor Steve Adler have announced a partnership with the Appointments Project of United WE to increase the number of women on the city’s boards and commissions. Austin is doing better than most cities in terms of recruiting women to serve on the city’s 65 boards and commissions: A spokesperson for Harper-Madison told the Austin Monitor that 50 percent of city commission appointees are female and 48 percent are male. However, only 14 percent of board members are Black and 25 percent are Hispanic, according to city data. Of the 728 seats on commissions, 677 are currently filled. Harper-Madison told the Monitor, “I’ve been saying from the start of my political career that representation matters, and that all voices need to be at the table. I’m proud that more than half of the people we as a Council have put on our boards and commissions are women. However, I recognize that we still have work to do when it comes to adding more diversity to specific board and commissions.” Alter noted that her city service on the parks board inspired her to run for City Council. “As a supermajority female Council, we work to create opportunities for women in our community to lead. Through the Appointments Project, I hope we chart even more pathways for female leadership and service.” According to Wendy Doyle, president of United WE, the group “created the Appointments Project so local boards and commissions could reflect the communities they serve.” With the help of Harper-Madison, Alter and Adler, she said, “we are addressing the gender disparities in local leadership and are able to make real changes in our communities.” The group will hold public training events for those interested in learning about civic leadership on Oct. 7 and Oct. 29.
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