By Joe Johnson
Athens-Clarke County’s first-ever inclusion officer has resigned two years after she was tapped to lead the newly-created Office of Inclusion and Diversity.
County Manager Blaine Williams on Thursday announced that Inclusion Officer Krystle Cobran’s resignation will be effective on Dec. 10.
Cobran, who Williams appointed to the position on Oct. 18, 2019, will be replaced on an interim basis by Selah Gardner, community education analyst in the Inclusion Office, until a national search is conducted for a new inclusion officer.
“It is an extraordinary honor to have been selected by the Manager’s Office to serve alongside our community members, elected officials, leadership, and staff as the first Inclusion Officer for Athens-Clarke County," Cobran said in a prepared statement. "Nothing that this office accomplishes happens in isolation, and I am deeply appreciative to each person, team member, and institution who has courageously shared experiences and perspective, provided us with feedback, worked with us to shape policies and practices, partnered with us to take coordinated action, and been willing to join with us in this ongoing work.
"Though I am transitioning out of the role of Inclusion Officer,” she said, “I remain grateful to countless individuals who have come before me, and who continue to advance inclusion, diversity, and equity throughout our community and local government each day."
Williams noted in a statement that Cobran “broke critical ground” in being the first person to serve as inclusion officer.
"I am grateful for her incredible skillset at building trust and scaling this long overdue effort,” Williams said. “She and her team have created an excellent foundation for this office’s work in diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts both inside ACCGov and within the community. She has helped to construct bridges that we must continue to fortify to make this government and community places where all people feel they belong."
In early 2019, the Mayor’s Task Force on Inclusion and Equity presented 10 goals to develop a plan “to make Athens-Clarke County a more welcoming and inclusive community.” The Inclusion Office, as a division of the Manager’s Office, was recommended as one of the goals.
The office is made up of a 12-member board headed by the Inclusion Officer, and has representatives from the community and local social-justice organizations.
The Inclusion Office works with all county departments and offices and focus its efforts on such areas as race, color, national origin, religious beliefs, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and disabilities.