Equity & Inclusion Director Brenda Mills to retire

professional picture of Brenda wearing a brown blazer and cheat print top

Please join the City of Asheville’s leadership team in congratulating Brenda Mills on her upcoming retirement effective January 31, 2024. 

Brenda joined the City of Asheville in 2005 and has served in different roles including: Minority Business Program Manager, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Project Manager, Administrative Services Manager, Economic Development Specialist, Neighborhood & Community Engagement Specialist, and most recently Director of Equity & Inclusion. 

“Brenda is a strong and experienced leader who leaves a lasting legacy for us all. Her dedicated passion for public service and connecting the community to local government inspires us all. Our community and staff have received so many benefits from her leadership. We wish her the best in her retirement,” said City Manager Debra Campbell.  

In her 18 years with the City of Asheville Mills has been an invaluable resource. A few highlights of her work include:

  • Project Manager for $12 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for the City Manager’s Office. 
  • Economic Development Specialist for the Community & Economic Development Department, leading 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.
  • Mills served as the Neighborhood & Community Engagement Manager for the City’s Communication and Public Engagement Department from 2017-2021. In this role, she worked to build community capacity for effective engagement in local government. She cultivated communication networks with neighborhood associations and community groups and served as their liaison with the City. 
  • Kicked off the formation of the Reparations Commission in collaboration with Buncombe County, which was no small task. The impacts of her work with the Reparations Commission will leave a lasting legacy. 
  • Current work to update the City’s Racial Equity Action Plan which will include departmental plans to advance racial equity in all operations.
  • Fully staffed the Equity and Inclusion Department soon after being hired as Department Director.

“Retirement for me is not the end but the beginning of a new chapter in life.  As I often say, public service is not for the faint at heart.  I am a great one for diving in where others fear to tread. It has been my honor to be a part of the City team and I appreciate the support of staff and community over the years.” said Mills. 

Mills plans for retirement include consulting, traveling and more time with family and friends.

Brenda will be assisting in the selection process for her successor which is currently in the planning phase. More information will be shared as we move forward with this very important search for our next Director of Equity and Inclusion. 

Please join us in congratulating Brenda Mills on her retirement!