Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Governor Cooper Reestablishes Andrea Harris Equity Task Force to Continue Work to Address Underserved Communities

Aug 17, 2022

Today, Governor Roy Cooper reestablished the Andrea Harris Equity Task Force through an Executive Order to continue the work that the group has done to address social, economic and health disparities in underserved and underrepresented communities.

"A talented, educated and diverse workforce is one of North Carolina’s greatest strengths and it’s important for us to keep working to eliminate the barriers our communities of color have faced for too long," said Governor Cooper. "I’m grateful that the Andrea Harris Equity Task Force will continue the efforts to make our state a more fair and just state for all."

“Thanks to the work of the Task Force, we’ve made important gains and now we can continue the mission to further economic development, improve health and wellness, and advance equitable practices within state agencies,” said Administration Secretary Pamela Cashwell.

In June 2020, Governor Cooper established the Andrea Harris Task Force to identify best practices to help create economic stability in disadvantaged communities, improve health and wellness in underserved areas and achieve environmental justice. Meeting nearly monthly since first formed, the Task Force established 21 policy recommendations across the five core areas of healthcare, business development, education, environmental justice and inclusion and engagement. Nine of those recommendations have been fully implemented while the other 12 are in progress through the work of Task Force subcommittees and state agencies.

Among numerous accomplishments, the Andrea Harris Task Force secured funding to help implement NCCARE360, a resource to connect North Carolinians with local health, housing, employment and transportation services. Members also helped secure funding to address environmental issues, like lead and asbestos, in public schools. The Task Force strongly advocated for more digital access across our state and partnered with the NC Department of Public Instruction to develop a digital literacy curriculum and toolkit that is accessible to all families in their native language. In alignment with Andrea Harris’s legacy, the Task Force supported historically underutilized businesses, encouraging state contractors to commit to spending at least 8% on historically underutilized businesses.

The Andrea Harris Equity Task Force will be comprised of members appointed by the Governor and who represent various agencies and community organizations. Appointees will include the following members or their designee:

  • Secretary of the NC Department of Administration
  • Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer for NC Commerce
  • Digital Equity and Literacy Director for the NC Department of Information Technology
  • Chief Health Equity Officer for NC Department of Health and Human Services
  • Executive Director of the North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office
  • Office of Civil Rights Director for NC Department of Transportation
  • Office of Historically Black Colleges and Universities Outreach Director for NCDOT

A member or representative from each of the following groups will comprise the rest of the task force:

  • Hometown Strong
  • NC Department of Administration Commission of Indian Affairs
  • Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic-Latino Affairs
  • North Carolina Council for Women Advisory Board
  • Historically Underutilized Business Advisory Council
  • NC Department of Administration Commission on Inclusion
  • NC Community College System or UNC System Office
  • NC Historically Black College or University or a Minority Serving Institution
  • Four community organizations aligned with the mission of the Andrea Harris Equity Task Force

Governor Cooper developed the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force to addresses the social, environmental, economic, and health disparities in communities of color disproportionally impacted by COVID-19. Named in honor of the late civil rights activist, Andrea Harris, who dedicated her life to eliminating disparities in North Carolina, the Task Force work targets core areas including Access to Healthcare, Economic Opportunities and Business Development, Educational Opportunity, Environmental Justice and Inclusion, and Patient Engagement.