Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell has appointed veteran City employee Brenda Mills as Interim Equity and Inclusion Director as the City continues its search for a permanent director.
In her new role, Mills’ first priority will be to fill all Equity and Inclusion positions and focus on building a cohesive team to strengthen the solid foundation work by the former Equity and Inclusion staff. Mills will lead this work in partnership with Human Resources.
Mills will begin the transition immediately and will work with the current interim director, Assistant City Manager Richard White, who has accepted a position as Town Manager of Carrboro. “I am looking forward to working with Brenda on a seamless handoff,” White said. “I know that she will do a great job supporting the organization’s efforts until a new team is hired.”
Mills has been an invaluable resource for the City of Asheville for 16 years, with experience in local government for more than 25 years, including nine at Buncombe County. She has helped lead critical projects, such as Project Manager for $12 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for the City Manager’s Office. As Economic Development Specialist for the Community & Economic Development Department, Mills led the City’s Minority Business Program. In that role, she focused on outreach, education and support in public contracting to small-, minority- and women-owned businesses, working directly with City departments on minority business plan compliance and outreach. In 2019, she led the completion of the City’s Disparity Study, which provided for the next steps of the City’s newly named Business Inclusion Program.
In her most recent role, Mills has served as Neighborhood & Community Engagement Manager for the City’s Communication and Public Engagement Department since 2017. In this role, she works to build community capacity for effective engagement in local government. She cultivates communication networks with neighborhood associations and community groups and serves as their liaison with the City. Mills designs and executes public engagement programs for emerging community concerns. And she has collaborated with the Equity and Inclusion Office in many of these engagement initiatives.
Mills has also been active in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity, of which the City of Asheville is a member, by attending meetings and training.
“Brenda is a strong and experienced leader to step into this interim role, one with a breadth of knowledge of our community and a passion for public service and connecting people to local government,” said Campbell. “This interim assignment is a natural extension of how she is already serving our City.”
“It took a little arm twisting because I enjoy my work with neighborhoods in particular,” said Mills. “But I understand the need for continuity in the Equity and Inclusion Office at the City and it’s a natural extension of the engagement work I already do, so I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get busy.”
Mills has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Public Affairs degree from Western Carolina University. She has served in many volunteer capacities on local boards including on the United Way of Asheville-Buncombe County (2002-2014), Helpmate Board of Directors (2010-2015), Manna Food Bank Board of Directors (2005-2007) and the YWCA (2004-2007). She has been a longtime volunteer for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast.
Please join us in welcoming Brenda Mills to her new interim role with the City of Asheville!