Brooks has been the diversity and inclusion officer and LGBT liaison in South Bend, Indiana, home of openly-gay Democratic presidential candidate, Mayor Pete Buttegieg, since 2016.
Fort Worth created the position of the Diversity and Inclusion Department this year and allocated $942,111 to it. It replaces the former Human Relations unit. The city council approved the budget including the department by a vote of 5-3.
The department was created based upon the recommendation of the so-called “Race and Culture Task Force,” created in 2017. It is charged with enforcing the city’s non-discrimination laws and various federal civil rights laws, pursuing “equity in municipal service delivery and distribution of resources,” and “promoting cultural awareness.”
Brooks was the first director of diversity in South Bend and grew the department from one employee and no budget to a budget of over $500,000 in three years.
During a recent public candidate forum, Brooks said she is originally from Texas and was “raised with the idea of what it means to be underrepresented and voiceless.”
When asked about improving police relations with minorities in South Bend given the widely-publicized police shooting of Eric Logan, Brooks responded that she had started a program for interaction between police officers and “men of color” in the community.
“When stories were shared, it humanized each other. I’d like to do that here and bring those communities together.”
When asked by an audience member about immigrants, Brooks touted the “SB ID” program where identifications were issued to immigrants, regardless of their legal status, which gave them access to city services.
Brooks also advocated for a “restorative justice” program, which she described as being centered on the mental wellness of neighborhoods.
The Center for Justice and Reconciliation defines restorative justice as “a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior.”
Mayor Betsy Price issued a statement welcoming Brooks to the city. “Brooks’ role is not confined to one singular department, but instead she will lead the entire city in the implementation of policies and practices that ensure we focus on diversity and inclusion in every department and decision.”
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.