The Better Together Council
In an effort to redress inequities that exist within Erie and to work towards solutions through policy reform, The Better Together Council, a volunteer advisory group established by Mayor Joe Schember to advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for all Erie residents, today announce that Dr. Camille Bussette, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institute and the Director of the Brookings’ Race, Prosperity and Inclusion initiative has been selected to lead a 12-month-long initiative called the Racial Justice Policy Initiative.
The Racial Justice Policy Initiative involves a collaborative process for multiple policy reform groups to come together to identify and amend policies that perpetuate racial injustice and inequity in Erie. The initiative will support grassroots advocacy as essential to Erie’s progress, while also encouraging collaboration among policy reform groups through intersectionality and identifying policy reform priorities. Chair, Patrick Fisher and Vice Chair, Tesha Nesbit believe that “the Better Together Council can deliver on its mission to support the implementation of policies, programs, and projects for all segments of the community through the strategic framework underpinning this initiative.”
Dr. Busette will work directly with the Better Together Council and the policy reform groups that participate in the initiative. “I’m looking forward to helping move Erie forward on this front,” Dr. Busette said. “I am impressed at the dedication in this community to this issue. Erie has the opportunity to be a community of change.”
During the initial six months of the year-long project, Dr. Busette will work with the Better Together Council to gather both qualitative and quantitative data on Erie. This data will be used to identify and analyze key issues. The group will also work to identify and welcome policy reform groups to the table to then prioritize areas of focus to collaboratively develop an action plan and metrics based on desired outcomes and stated priorities. The latter half of the year will focus on the implementation of the action plan, along with an evaluation of the process and success measured based on established metrics.
Toward recognizing the merits of collaboration, each participating policy reform group will receive a modest stipend. To help facilitate this initiative, The Jefferson Educational Society has donated its services. Dr. Busette is presently developing a questionnaire that will be distributed by the Better Together Council to policy reform groups located in or serving Erie. Responses to this questionnaire will aid the Better Together Council in inviting select groups with successful advocacy records to participate in the initiative.
Mayor Joseph Schember says, “At the City, we fully support the Better Together Council’s Racial Justice Policy Initiative. The City is also pursuing a grant which will allow us to hire an independent expert to evaluate existing policies and procedures to identify, rewrite, and/or remove any inherent racism with the goal of fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in all we do. We will coordinate this closely with Better Together’s Initiative to take a major step toward ending any form of racism in Erie.”
Michael Outlaw, the Community Liaison for the City of Erie, is the Better Together Council’s point of contact within Mayor Schember’s administration. The group has worked closely with City Government to ensure that the work of the Racial Justice Policy Initiative is complementary to, and not duplicative of, the city’s recruitment of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant.
Partial funding for the initiative is provided by Erie Insurance Group and The Erie Community Foundation. “The mission of the Erie Community Foundation is to improve the lives of all in our region. Clearly, issues of racial injustice have hindered these efforts and we are optimistic the expertise provided by Dr. Busette will help us identify tangible and doable policy changes to reduce barriers and enhance lives,” says Michael Batchelor, President of the Erie Community Foundation.
About the Better Together Council
The Mayor’s Better Together Council fosters support and collaboration with other community partners to advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The Better Together Council is committed to an equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment for all residents of Erie. The Better Together Council accomplishes this through the implementations of policies, programs, and projects designed to support various communities. The Council’s structure consists of diverse leaders from local government, private, public, and nonprofit sectors who are committed to Building Opportunity, Restoring Hope, and Transforming Erie.
About Dr. Camille Busette
Camille M. Busette, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies with affiliated appointments in Economic Studies and the Metropolitan Policy programs. She is the Director of the Race, Prosperity, and Inclusion Initiative, Brookings’s cross-program initiative focused on issues of equity, racial justice and economic mobility for low-income communities and communities of color. At Brookings, her work has focused on systemic racism, the economic advancement of Black and Native American boys, the importance of social relationships to economic mobility, and equity in healthcare and in local and state government policy priorities and builds on her work for low-income populations at EARN (now SaverLife) and the Center for American Progress. Prior to joining Brookings, Busette was an executive at the World Bank where she led the World Bank’s financial inclusion innovation arm, working globally with technology and financial service executives and with central bank governors on product, regulatory, data and cybersecurity issues. Before joining the World Bank, Busette was the inaugural CEO of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Financial Education, where she initiated research on financial well-being, and was a member of the Policy and Executive Management teams there. Busette has held executive positions at PayPal, Intuit, and NextCard and is a Public Governor of FINRA, the self-regulatory agency for the broker-dealer industry
The Better Together Council, which was created as a result of the People’s Supper process, champions and works to advance policies, programs, and projects to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout Erie. The Council’s structure consists of diverse community leaders who are committed to Building Opportunity, Restoring Hope, and Transforming Erie.
Chair – Patrick Fisher
Vice Chair – Tesha Nesbit
Christina Marsh (2019-2020)
Dusti Dennis (2019-2020)
PohLeng Teo (2019-2020)
Rabih Hoblos (2019-2020)
Jasse Comacho (2019)
Eddie Ocasio (2019)
The Erie Racial Justice Policy Initiative is a Better Together Council-sponsored policy action project facilitated by the Jefferson Educational Society.
This initiative seeks to engage multiple stakeholders in the City of Erie to identify and implement local public policy reforms that address the most pressing racial justice opportunities within the City. The belief is that by working together, we can achieve policy wins.
It involves a collaborative process for multiple policy reform groups to come together to identify and amend policies that perpetuate racial injustice and inequity in Erie. The initiative supports grassroots advocacy as essential to Erie’s progress, while also encouraging collaboration among policy reform groups through intersectionality and identifying policy reform priorities.
The members of the Better Together Council invite groups and organizations involved in local racial justice public policy work to take this short survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ERJPI2021.Their goal is to identify potential partners and to gain a better understanding of existing efforts already underway.
The Erie Racial Justice Policy Initiative is in a position to provide modest stipends for 12 policy reform partners over the next year. If your organization or group is not selected to participate in this initial round, the Council will keep everyone updated on other opportunities for involvement.