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Crain’s Detroit has named Alize Asberry Payne as a Notable Leader in DEI for 2023. Ms. Payne serves as the County’s courageous and innovative Racial Equity Officer. As the first in the role since the 2018 establishment of Washtenaw’s Racial Equity Office (REO), her approach to equity is humanistic, holistic, targeted, and universal.
As part of her role, Asberry Payne develops, implements, and oversees the REO’s mission, vision, and goals. She develops and oversees the County’s equity-related policies and programs. She also leads the ARPA strategic team responsible for equitably distributing and managing $71M in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
“Alize has been a champion of D.E.I. and Belonging.”, says Gregory Dill, County Administrator, “she and her work have positively impacted the way we operate. Alize is one of the brightest minds on our Executive team, a true thought leader. We would not have made the advances we have without her leadership, passion, and holistic approach to Equity.”
During the international pandemic, Alize’s leadership resulted in an equity strategy for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, essential supplies, and k-n95 masks. There was a quantifiable impact on the Covid-19 mortality in Washtenaw as a direct result of her policy advocacy and strategic direction. She has worked continuously and continues to align Washtenaw County with national best practices related to poverty elimination, fine and fee justice reform and community building.
Asberry Payne is a “Crafting Demographic Futures” fellow at the Center for Social Solutions at the University of Michigan. She previously served on Governor Witmer’s Covid-19 Racial Disparities Taskforce where she helped to implement strategies that reduced Covid-19 mortality rates in vulnerable and marginalized communities around the State of Michigan.
"I am thrilled to celebrate Alize's well-deserved recognition as one of Crain's Detroit 2023 Notable Leaders in DEI. Alize brings a dynamic level of innovation to our organization. Washtenaw County is lucky to have one of Michigan's foremost thought leaders leading the work we do involving diversity, equity, and inclusion." Commissioner Justin Hodge, District 5, Chair of the Board.
When asked what she’s most proud of in her work, Asberry Payne shared, “I’m most proud of our Board’s investment into the 220 North Park development, as well as our Anti-Discrimination/ Anti-Harassment Policy. I crafted a policy that says that we will go further than just what is or is not legal. It’s about creating a culture of true inclusion, belonging and safety for the people who work in Washtenaw County and the people we serve.”