In this third installment of an interview with Julie Nelson, she shares advice on entry points for other governments interested in taking on racial equity work.

In their work to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity made an important discovery: behavior drives attitude.

As Living Cities works to embed a racial equity and inclusion lens across our entire portfolio in both meaningful and authentic ways, we’re also learning about how local government can change the ways it works to more explicitly promote equity and inclusion. In our efforts to bring others along in this work, we’re sharing advice from others who have come before us.

An Interview with Julie Nelson (Part 3)

This past week, we’ve shared highlights from our exchanges with Julie Nelson, Director of The Government Alliance on Race and Equity (the Alliance). Julie walked us through the history of racial inequities in the United State, and why government is a potentially powerful force for driving structural change and advancing racial equity.

Today, she suggests four entry points for governments interested in taking on racial equity work:

1. Start with the recognition that race matters.

Across the United States, across every single indicator for success, race matters. Whether we are talking about education, criminal justice, jobs, housing, health or any other indicator for success, race predicts how well you will do. Racial inequities continue be deep, pervasive and persistent across the country.

2. Embrace the opportunity for local government to transform.

It is an incredibly exciting time to be working on racial equity within government. We are seeing more and more jurisdictions that are making a commitment to achieving racial equity, focusing on the power and influence of their own institutions, and working in partnership across sectors and with the community to maximize impact in the community. Government’s proactive work on racial equity has the potential to leverage significant change, setting the stage for the achievement of racial equity in our communities.

3. Don’t start from scratch.

Local government just getting started is fortunate that there is a body of practice currently available, including many tools, policies and resources to share cross-jurisdictionally.

4. Collaborate cross-jurisdictionally.

Historically, when we have talked about organizing, it has meant organizing in the community. It is important that we also organize within and between jurisdictions so that we are learning from each others’ experiences and collectively advancing racial equity.

We encourage you to stay tuned as we continue to reflect on our Racial Equity and Inclusion work to date, and start candid conversations about the future of racial equity in the United States.


To find out more about the Alliance, please call or e-mail Julie at 206-816-5104 or julie.nelson@racialequityalliance.org.