Black Caucus urges Haslam to diversify cabinet

The legislature’s Black Caucus is urging Gov. Bill Haslam to diversify his cabinet and offering to help him find qualified appointees. At one point, Haslam had three black cabinet members, but all have resigned – the last being Human Services Commissioner Raquel Hatter.

News release from Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Representative Brenda Gilmore, Chair of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators, has sent a letter to Governor Bill Haslam calling on him to diversify his cabinet.

With the announcement of Commissioner Raquel Hatter’s forthcoming departure, it will leave the Haslam 20+ member cabinet with only one commissioner who is not white and none who are African American.

“The leadership of the cabinet should be diverse and reflect the broad range of all that Tennessee has to offer.  This is not only about diversity. It is also about making sure that the very best and most skilled individuals are in service in state government,” said Rep. Brenda Gilmore.

“The Tennessee Black Caucus believes that it is not possible that the Governor has the best talent available, if he has no African Americans in his cabinet,” said Gilmore.

Text of the letter to Haslam:A copy of the letter to Governor Haslam is attached.

January 5, 2017

The Honorable Bill Haslam, 1st Floor, State Capitol Nashville, TN  37243

 

Dear Governor Haslam:

Raquel Hatter’s imminent resignation as Commissioner of Human Services leaves your 20+ cabinet with only one commissioner who is not white and none who are African American.

As you are aware, the leadership of your cabinet should be diverse and reflect the broad range of all that Tennessee has to offer. This is important because, among other reasons, the vast majority of the individuals in your cabinet will not retire when your tenure comes to an end. Instead, many of them will continue to serve in leadership capacities for years to come. Your cabinet produces future leaders in this state.

Furthermore, this is not only about diversity. It’s also about making sure that the very best and most skilled individuals are in service in state government. I’m sure you will agree that you want the best talent in leadership positions in Tennessee. The Tennessee Black Caucus believes—and we hope that you would agree—that it is not possible that you have the best talent available, if you have no African Americans in your cabinet.

The Tennessee Black Caucus stands ready to assist you in identifying talent if you should need our help. For instance, I have conferred with Sen. Lee Harris and we are ready to produce a list of qualified, talented individuals who you may consider for the most recent opening. If it would be helpful, we are also willing to continue to produce options should any other important vacancies materialize.

Sincerely,

Brenda Gilmore, Chair Tennessee Black Caucus State Legislators

 

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