NEWS

Redding hires its first equity manager to help the city 'function in a diverse world'

Janelle Galbraith was appointed as Redding's first Economic Development, Innovation and Equity Manager on Aug. 19, 2021.
Michele Chandler
Redding Record Searchlight

Redding has announced its first economic development, innovation and equity manager.

Janelle Galbraith, who has worked for the city since 2017, took over the job on Aug. 19. Before being being named to the newly-created post, Galbraith had been management assistant to City Manager Barry Tippin.

Galbraith said that in her prior role, she was already handling many duties related to economic development, including overseeing the city's surplus land contracts and getting properties sold at the city-owned Stillwater Business Park.

She said she had also been focusing on innovation issues, working with various city departments as they evaluated adopting new technology. 

While her efforts related to economic development and innovation projects will continue in her new position, said Galbraith, "We don't have anybody doing equity. That is brand new. Building a program like that from the ground up is going to take a lot of time."

It was Tippin who told the City Council during its budget hearings earlier this year there was a need for someone to formally develop and execute the city's equity efforts to ensure that Redding can "function in a diverse world."

Tippin said last week of the appointment: "We want to be a welcoming and inclusive community and this position will analyze our internal systems to ensure we are communicating at our best and working at our most efficient."

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Over the next three months, Galbraith said she will be working with people within the city's leadership, with members of City Council and with people from the community to develop Redding's equity goals, which will be released to the public.

"When most people look at equity or they hear that, they automatically think race. And it's way more than that," Galbraith said about the role of equity chief. Examining pay equity and worker recruitment and retention will factor in, she said.

So will focusing on city communications with the public. Galbraith said she might want to devise ways to get input from a wider variety of city residents about everything from Redding Electric Utility rate increases to the most appropriate kinds of development that should be recruited to town.

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Ensuring that "people who have a vested interest in what is happening on that front are included in the conversation. ... That's part of equity," she said.

Galbraith added that she doesn't believe there are inequities to be rectified. "I think we have not been intentional about looking to see what we can do to make things better. Now we are looking and we're making sure we're making good, smart decisions — not just for our organization, but the city as a whole," she said.

An Alabama native, Galbraith moved to Redding six years ago with her family from Radford, Virginia. She holds a graduate degree in English from Radford University, where she taught a freshman writing class.

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Michele Chandler covers city government and housing issues for the Redding Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. Follow her on Twitter at @MChandler_RS, call her at 530-225-8344 or email her at michele.chandler@redding.com. Please support our entire newsroom's commitment to public service journalism by subscribing today.