On February 16th, 2023, President Biden signed an Executive Order to support the advancement of racial equity and service to underserved communities, specifically in federal agencies. Ambassador Susan Rice, White House Domestic Policy Advisor, and Shalanda Young, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, hosted a briefing on the content of the executive order. The President signed a similar executive order earlier in his term that prioritized equity in government agencies and enhanced policy implementation methods. The new executive order requires agencies to publish action plans detailing how they will engage in underserved communities and create more equitable practices in the workplace.

Two panels discussed the impact of the previous executive order and expected gains from the new order. The first panel members included Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su, Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Adrianne Todman, and Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary, Office for Civil Rights. Panel members shared how they plan to utilize the executive order to help close the racial wealth gap, increase outreach, and fulfill the full promise of the Fair Housing Act. They each shared stories of how the previous executive order allowed them to have a direct impact at the local level and use funding more effectively.

The second panel consisted of Marlene Sallo, Executive Director of the Disability Rights Network, Lorette Picciano, Executive Director of the Rural Coalition, and Ron Busby, President and CEO of U.S. Black Chambers. They discussed how the executive order impacts their organizations directly, emphasized the importance of partnerships with the government, and the role civil rights leaders will play in the implementation of the new legislation. When discussing next steps and a call to action, members encouraged communities to continue educating on their local issues and areas of expertise. They discussed the opportunity to revisit their best ideas with new funding and to focus the government, as the world’s largest purchaser, on procuring from minority owned, disadvantaged businesses.

By Maya Benysh, Policy Intern