Cheryl Burrell has been selected as the state’s first-ever Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Opportunity. In this role, Ms. Burrell will lead the state’s newly-created executive division entitled the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Opportunity.
In May 2013, Governor Chafee signed Executive Order 13-05 entitled “Promotion of Diversity, Equal Opportunity and Minority Business Enterprises in Rhode Island.” The Executive Order tasked all state agencies, including the Department of Administration, with the responsibility of increasing diversity within the state workforce, as well as increasing the number of Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) – which includes Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) – within state contracts. In his State of the State Address in January 2014, Governor Chafee announced the creation of the new Office of Diversity, Equity, and Opportunity as one of his priorities in his FY15 budget. The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Opportunity will include the Equal Opportunity Office, the MBE Compliance Office, as well as the Outreach and Diversity Office.
Over the last several months, the Department of Administration conducted an extensive search for the new Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Opportunity position. It received over 100 applications for the position and a search committee composed of public, private, and nonprofit sector representatives conducted a thorough review of the applicants.
“I am pleased to announce Cheryl’s selection as the first Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Opportunity,” Governor Chafee said. “Our state is growing more diverse every day and it is important for state government to reflect the diversity of our state’s population. Together with Former Director of Administration Richard Licht and Director of Administration Steven Hartford, I created this new Executive Division dedicated to diversity in order to ensure a strong proactive approach to diversity initiatives for years to come.”
“Cheryl’s career is a testament to her commitment to diversity,” added Director of Administration Steven Hartford. “I look forward to continuing to work with Cheryl in her new capacity and the Department is committed to assisting Governor Chafee with his efforts to increase diversity in the state workforce and opportunities for Minority Business Enterprises within state contracts.”
“I am truly humbled to receive this awesome opportunity to lead the state in advancing the goals of diversity and inclusion,” stated Ms. Burrell. “I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead and with working with all our state and community partners to advance this important work.”
Ms. Burrell has been employed by the State of Rhode Island for over 34 years. She has been with the Department of Administration since 1999, where she previously served as the Administrator of the Human Resources Outreach and Diversity Office. Prior to her work in the Department of Administration, she was employed by the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General, where she served under the leadership of five attorneys general.
With a passion for diversity and inclusion, Ms. Burrell’s advocacy is a culmination of involvement over the years with several community organizations, personnel associations, boards, and committees. She holds a bachelor’s degree in management from Bryant College and was awarded a certificate from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Senior Executives in State and Local Government Summer Leadership Program. She is married, has two adult daughters, as well as two grandchildren, and is a lifelong resident of Rhode Island.