Procurement Equity Amid Hostile Politics: Accounting for Race When You Can’t Account for Race

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Procurement Equity Amid Hostile Politics: Accounting for Race When You Can’t Account for Race

May 26, 2021

Join Next City and Living Cities for the second installment of our three-part live webinar event on public procurement, race, and the pandemic. Businesses owned by people of color are the hardest hit by the pandemic and its economic fallout. Commitment to inclusive procurement is an obvious way to ensure that the eventual recovery from COVID-19 includes or starts in the hardest-hit communities.

Even now with looming budget deficits, procurement is a tool to mitigate disproportionate losses for workers and the neighborhoods they support. What are some of the biggest lessons learned from decades of work on MWBE procurement programs? What are some of the emerging practices that can make public procurement work better specifically from the perspective of small businesses that have never before had the opportunity to do business with their local government? This webinar series will bring together perspectives from leaders responding to these challenges, using tried-and-true methods as well as new methods.

It is helpful to leverage race-conscious policies and programs to address disparities in government contracting. But not all cities have legal grounds for such policies. In cities and states where race-conscious programs aren’t an option, how can race-neutral policies work to expand city government’s contracting with businesses owned by people of color?

Join us to hear how cities are working to ensure that race-neutral policies benefit businesses owned by people of color. We will hear from officials in Tacoma and Houston, and from the small-business accelerator Interise, for takeaways and advice on how to institute equitable procurement in places where the means to get there cannot include race-conscious policies and programs.

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Moderator
Oscar Perry Abello
is Next City’s senior economics correspondent and covers alternative economic models and policies. Abello, who helms the Bottom Line newsletter, has covered the work of all these speakers over the years. Abello has a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University, where he majored in economics and minored in peace and justice studies. He spent several years embedded in the international development industry before transitioning into journalism in 2015.


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Panelists
Shakisha Ross
is a Workforce Program and Investment Specialist with the City of Tacoma. She grew up in the Tacoma area and graduated from Seattle Pacific University with two degrees. One in Political Science and one in Interior Design. Shakisha works on youth workforce development programs, such as Summer Jobs 253 (SJ253) and other certificated programs that will benefit the youth of Tacoma Public Schools. With her role in Equity in Contracting (EIC), Shakisha works to advance goals relating to equity and access in contracting to support minority and women-owned businesses.

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Nancy Lee, Director of Research and Evaluation, Interise. Nancy grounds Interise’s research agenda on firm-level data and applied research that sheds light on actionable solutions to building a just economy sustained by small business. Prior to joining Interise, Nancy was a Senior Research Associate at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University where she conducted research on economic development and sustainability at the municipal level. Nancy holds a Ph.D. from Washington State University in Interdisciplinary Studies (Economics, Natural Resource Management, and Regional Planning).

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Marsha E. Murray, Esq., was appointed by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and confirmed by City Council to serve as the Director of the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity (OBO) in April 2020, after having served as OBO’s Interim Director.  As Director, Ms. Murray is responsible for leading the City’s supplier diversity, workforce development, and inclusion efforts, with a focus on administering programs and initiatives that increase access to economic opportunity for historically underutilized businesses and disenfranchised individuals.

Director Murray’s commitment to public service spans almost two decades. Prior to joining the City of Houston, she served as legal counsel to New York City’s government for 10 years. During that time, she worked to ensure that the most vulnerable New Yorkers had access to social services and led programs that served to maximize housing options for citizens in a perpetually challenging housing market. Director Murray has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and Spanish from Colgate University and a Law Degree from Villanova University School of Law.  

This webinar series is underwritten by Living Cities and its City Accelerator, an initiative that drives inclusive economic opportunity through procurement and which is supported by the Citi Foundation. All who register will receive a copy of the Next City ebook, “The Power of Procurement,” plus the upcoming report from the most recent City Accelerator cohort, which has been focused on “Doubling the Adoption of Procurement Processes to Promote Economic Equity.”

Your contribution toward these webinars will be used to find even more amazing guests, cover hosting fees, and organize seminars like this one more frequently. In addition to most major credit cards, Next City accepts Apple Pay and Google Pay. A video of the webinar will be made available to those who register.

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