The Andrea Harris Equity Task Force has been reestablished to continue addressing social, economic and health disparities in underserved and underrepresented communities.
Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Wednesday. The executive order that had established the task force July 1, 2020, expired June 4 of this year.
The Cooper administration established the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force to address the social, environmental, economic, and health disparities in communities of color disproportionally impacted by COVID-19.
“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,” Cooper said in a statement. “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.”
Named in honor of the late civil rights activist, Andrea Harris, who dedicated her life to eliminating disparities in North Carolina, the task force targets core areas including access to healthcare, economic opportunities and business development, educational opportunity, environmental justice and inclusion, and patient engagement.
The task force established 21 policy recommendations across the five core areas of healthcare, business development, education, environmental justice and inclusion and engagement, the governor’s administration said. 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.
“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,” Administration Secretary Pamela Cashwell said.
The task force also secured funding to help implement NCCARE360, a resource to connect North Carolinians with local health, housing, employment and transportation services, and helped secure funding to address environmental issues, like lead and asbestos, in public schools.
The task force advocated for more digital access across the state and partnered with the North Carolina 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 is to be made up of members appointed by the governor who represent various state agencies and community organizations, including the following:
- Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Administration.
- Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer for North Carolina Commerce.
- Digital Equity and Literacy Director for the North Carolina Department of Information Technology.
- Chief health equity officer for North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
- Executive director of the North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office.
- Office of Civil Rights director for North Carolina Department of Transportation.
- Office of Historically Black Colleges and Universities Outreach director for NCDOT.
- Hometown Strong.
- North Carolina 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.
- North Carolina Department of Administration Commission on Inclusion.
- North Carolina Community College System or UNC System Office.
- North Carolina Historically Black College or University or a Minority Serving Institution.
- Four community organizations aligned with the mission of the Andrea Harris Equity Task Force.