Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot isn’t wasting any time.
She announced a key appointment in her administration on Wednesday that will lead the charge to change Chicago’s reputation for being “a tale of two cities.”
Candace Moore, a transplant from Aurora whose mother grew up in Englewood, will become the city’s first chief equity officer.
She will be responsible for shaping an office tasked with uprooting one of the city’s most entrenched problems — inequity in just about every sector, including jobs, housing, economic development and education.
It’s work that the 32-year-old Moore seems cut out to do.
A senior staff attorney for the Education Equity Project at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Moore was on the winning side of the fight to stop the closing of the National Teacher’s Academy in the South Loop.
She is also a strategic advisor and partner to Chicago United for Equity, which works to advance racial equity across the city.
Moore has been a Chicagoan for more than a decade, though she knows enough about the city’s traditions to throw in her birthplace whenever this question comes up.
“I’ve been in Chicago now over 15 years, and I always have to say I’m a Chicagoan with a caveat,” she said laughing.
Besides her professional work, Moore was a member of the inaugural class of the Racial Justice Training Institute at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and the inaugural class of the Surge Fellowship program focusing on addressing race and class in urban education.
As the first chief equity officer, Moore has an opportunity to set the course for an effort that is long overdue.
“I am just really excited. I see a lot of great opportunities and it is such an exciting moment for things to change,” she told me in a phone interview.
Moore will step into her new role on July 1.
Lightfoot will be sworn in on Monday as the city’s first African American female and openly gay mayor. A large part of her campaign platform centered on creating an “institutional framework for addressing inequity.”
This newly created position puts that campaign pledge at the top of the mayor’s agenda.
“When you look at what happens nationally, these officers are really charged with supporting the city and thinking about its policies and practices and the changes that produce more fair and equitable outcomes,” Moore said.
“A key part of this work, to be successful, is it is not the sole responsibility of the [equity office] but the partnership that is responsible…What are the outcomes we are producing and are they fair for our city and our residents? If they are not, what are we going to do differently to increase fairness and equity.”
Moore added “[W]e have to be able to partner with the community to understand their experiences and how different services and resources have been doled out to communities, and also to think about solutions.
“A part of any racial equity work is an understanding of our history and how we got here in Chicago. It is very much about this tale of two cities. So it is about supporting all aspects of government and understanding and learning from our history as we set a goal for something different.
“It is not just recognizing that there has been unfairness, but if we are going to get to fairness and get to equity, that will require us to do something different.”
Moore has spent most of her professional career as an advocate working with young people, families and community organizations for “more just outcomes.”
“That work has taught me how to work with communities and how to both understand systems and understand government and think about solutions,” Moore told me.
“As I move into a role that is more on the government side, I still bring that understanding of community and the role of advocacy in a place in which [the] job is to support government. I am really excited to help provide that perspective.”