Service from the Outside:
Why I resigned as State EEO Coordinator
January 19, 2018, was my last day as the State of Ohio’s Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator. But it was not my last day of service to you. I resigned as head of the Equal Opportunity Division in the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, but not because I grew weary of its work. To the contrary, I resigned because I believe in the value of the division’s programs. I resigned because I believe in the mission of the division. I resigned to continue serving—not from the inside out, but from the outside in.
As a member of the Kasich administration, I had the honor of leading the division when it and the state made history in the Minority Business Enterprise program by meeting its 15 percent set-aside goal for the first time since it was created in 1980. But the most meaningful aspect of this accomplishment is not how it fares in relation to years gone by, but what it makes clear about what is possible in years yet to come.
It’s possible to preserve the improvements we realized in the division’s certification processes into the MBE and Encouraging Diversity, Growth, and Equity programs by creating a body of administrative case law that binds the division to certain reasonable interpretations of its rules. It’s possible to create more equitable access to state contracts and financial assistance for MBE- and EDGE-certified businesses that haven’t yet had a fair opportunity to compete for them. And it’s possible to ensure that certified businesses are afforded the full benefits of their certifications by holding other agencies accountable to administer the development aspects of these programs more robustly.
All of this is possible but would be exceedingly difficult to achieve if left the sole responsibility of those within state government. The culture of state government as an institution is reactive, not proactive. To be clear, this isn’t a criticism of the people who work in state government, many of whom do their utmost to serve their constituents. Indeed, it was an honor to serve alongside many of them. Instead, it’s an acknowledgment that the inertia of the state as an institution is very rarely spontaneously moved, and that the success of these programs depends on both external force and internal momentum.
This is why I resigned: to redirect my experience as an external force, which—when combined with the internal momentum we’ve already created—can help continue to produce positive change for historically underutilized businesses. But like all former public-sector employees, I must comply with post-employment ethics rules, which in my case would prohibit me from representing parties before state agencies on any of EOD’s programs for one year. The timing of my resignation, however, will ensure that I can freely engage the next administration (which begins in January 2019) from the very beginning—the most critical period—having already served my stay-out period. In the meantime, I’ve returned to private law practice, where I hope to continue serving historically underutilized businesses in general legal matters.
It was an honor to serve as State EEO Coordinator. But my resignation doesn’t mark an end to my service—instead, it is the start of my service from outside of state government and the beginning of the new ways I hope to continue helping. Please join me and tell me how I can help you. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in OhioMBE – March 1, 2018 – pdf