The City of Asheville’s Equity and Inclusion Department is now fully staffed
The City of Asheville is pleased to announce that the Department of Equity and Inclusion is once again fully staffed.
Led by veteran public servant Brenda Mills, the new team is already working in the community and internally with staff to make equity and inclusion a part of everything the City of Asheville does.
Brenda Mills, Director of Equity and Inclusion
Brenda Mills has been an invaluable resource to the City of Asheville for 16 years, with extensive experience in local government. As director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Mills oversees the city’s reparations initiative. She sees this as an integral part of her efforts to bring equity and inclusion to the community. His team, along with the city, will work with the Community Reparations Commission to explore what reparations might look like in Asheville. Their information gathering and recommendations will be made to the City Council for implementation.
Darian D. Blue, Outreach Coordinator
Darian Blue joins the City with extensive experience in community engagement. More recently, he established RISE Coaching and Leadership in South Carolina. Through community outreach, the national organization has aligned minority businesses with financial and community support to ensure they thrive. He has been featured in USA Today for his efforts to end poverty and received the Calder B. Ehrmann Outstanding Individual Award for Diversity and Inclusion. Blue was even named one of the “50 Most Influential for 2017” by Greenville Business Magazine in South Carolina.
Darian Blue developed his understanding of the importance of community outreach when he studied nonprofit leadership; including programs at Furman’s Riley Institute, Duke University and Francis Marion University. It welcomes the challenges and opportunities of working within a community that values ideas of creating space, giving voice and ensuring equity for all.
Marcus Kirkman, Equity and Inclusion Training Consultant
Marcus Kirkman is a big man with a big vision. After serving his country honorably for 22 years in the United States Navy as an operations specialist, Kirkman brought his analytical and problem-solving skills closer to home. As a certified instructor in disciplines as varied as terrorism to mindfulness, Kirkman is a recognized leader, providing professional coaching, facilitation and consulting services to individuals and organizations. In fact, Mecklenburg County Detention Center adopted its “Manhood” facilitation program to reduce recidivism from 33% to 15% starting in 2019-20.
As the city’s equity and inclusion trainer, Marcus will provide training to our city council, city staff including fire and police departments, boards and commissions, and our community. of Asheville. He is honored to be part of the City of Asheville team that is focused on moving equity and inclusion from a “concept” to a living presence.
Alayna Schmidt, Research and Data Analyst, Equity and Inclusion Consultant
Alayna Schmidt joins the City of Asheville office with extensive experience in policy research and practice. For the past six years, Schmidt has been committed to challenging and transforming interwoven systems of oppression through data analysis, research, writing, youth programming, and staff training. The North Carolina Environmental Educators awarded him an Outstanding Practitioner in 2020 for his dedication to equity and inclusion in environmental education programs. The WNC Nature Center’s Young Naturalist program in 2021, under Schmidt’s leadership, received the Significant Achievement in Education award.
Schmidt will serve as a liaison between city staff and the Asheville Human Relations Commission. She will also be the main point of contact for voters in the community who need to report possible discrimination. through the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. She brings a $10,000 grant from the Children & Nature Network to support equitable access to nature through youth development programs.