Human Relations Commission

Meet the Members of the Human Relations Commission (HRC)

The Legislative Review Committee (LRC), a committee of the Mayor and Commission, discussed recommendations for the composition and mission in 2021 for a Human Relations Commission (HRC). Mayor Kelly Girtz assigned this topic to the LRC to discuss at the August 3, 2021 Mayor and Commission Regular Session meeting following adoption of an unlawful discrimination ordinance. The LRC was asked to bring a recommendation back to the full Mayor and Commission for consideration within 60 days. 

The committee discussed this topic at their August 26, September 9, and September 16 meetings and requested that staff create a summary of discussion to date. Videos of each meeting, which were held virtually, are available online. The public did have the opportunity to provide input on this topic as an agenda item under consideration at the Tuesday, September 21, 2021 Agenda Setting Session and Tuesday, October 5, 2021 Regular Voting Session of the Mayor and Commission. 

Members of the public were able to provide public input on the HRC directly to any member of the LRC (Commissioners Allison Wright, Jesse Houle, Carol Myers, Mariah Parker, and Ovita Thornton) by contacting the commissioner(s) directly or by submitting written feedback through the Mayor & Commission Agenda Item Comment Form, which was sent to all 10 Commissioners and Mayor Girtz.

The LRC continued discussion and further refinement of the HRC structure at their September 23 and September 30 meetings in preparation for the recommendation to be considered at the Tuesday, October 5, 2021 Mayor and Commission Voting Session.

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Legislative Review Committee (LRC) Meeting Summaries

Meeting #1: August 26, 2021

Discussed the Mayor’s charge, the process to complete the task within the timeframe, and need for work in between meetings. The first step for the LRC was identifying: (1) criteria to keep in mind; (2) key questions to ask throughout the process; and (3) establishing shared expectations. This meeting focused on foundational educational content, including scope, expectations, support, reporting, member selection process, outreach, and education. At the end of this meeting, LRC members agreed on the title of Human Relations Commission and there was general consensus on this body being advisory in nature. 

Meeting #2: September 9, 2021

In the second of five meetings, the LRC heard from local government representatives from four different localities who shared local background, context, experiences, progress, and lessons learned on the creation of a Human Rights/Relations Commission within their jurisdiction. 

During live interviews, LRC members learned important details about membership selection, member onboarding and training, scope and mission, expectations, steps to ensure functionality, development of work plans, resources, and necessary staffing support. Also, there was valuable information provided on the establishment and operationalization of a Nondiscrimination Ordinance. LRC members provided feedback indicating that the local data, context, history, and direct experiences were valuable.  

The following localities presented:

  • City of Raleigh, NC
  • City of Atlanta
  • City of Asheville, NC
  • Buncombe County, NC

Meeting #3: September 16, 2021

This third meeting (in a sequence of five meetings) focused on listening to, and directly gathering LRC member feedback on the specifics they want to see in the Human Relations Commission. To assist LRC members in sharing these details, they were supported through a facilitated guided dialogue focused on the following areas critical to forming a recommendation to take back to the full body of Mayor and Commission: scope; expectations; selection; communication; reporting; training; and support. 

Each of the four LRC members present provided direct feedback and input in response to questions asked by staff across each of these subject areas. The purpose of this meeting was to gather the input and feedback necessary to begin building the framework of a recommendation that directly reflects LRC member input. 

Meeting #4: September 23, 2021

In this fourth meeting, Inclusion Office staff summarized the LRC's input from prior meetings. Based off the recommendations from the LRC, an outline was prepared and presented. The Inclusion Office then expressed their goal of connecting the LRC's recommendations to developing ordinance text. The discussion ended with identifying ways to coming to a consensus and identifying what the next steps are. 

Meeting #5: September 30, 2021

This fifth meeting began with the Attorney's Office reviewing a draft of the Human Relations Commission Ordinance with the LRC. Next, the LRC recommendations were reviewed. The meeting concluded with the Inclusion Office ensuring that the LRC's expectations were being met.