Hogsett appoints city’s first chief diversity officer, reorganizes cabinet

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s cabinet is getting a revamp leading into next year’s election with the addition of the city’s first chief diversity and equity officer, as well as several promotions and appointments.

Ben Tapper

Ben Tapper will become the leader of the city’s diversity initiatives in January, the mayor announced Thursday. In addition, new positions are being created and filled with current high-level staffers: deputy mayor of public health and safety, deputy mayor of economic development, and senior policy adviser to the mayor.

The reorganized administration includes three women in deputy mayor roles, including two women of color.

Tapper will be in charge of “executive-level strategy, development and implementation” of the city’s diversity-focused efforts, according to a news release from the mayor’s office. Tapper, who will begin the role Jan. 3, is currently a consultant at the Center for Congregations, where he coordinates diversity efforts for churches across the state. The Center for Congregations is funded by the Lilly Endowment.

Current administration leaders Jeff Bennett, Lauren Rodriguez and Scarlett Andrews were all promoted to new roles.

Jeff Bennett

Bennett, who served as the deputy mayor of community development, is now Hogsett’s senior policy adviser. His former responsibilities will be split between Rodriguez and Andrews in their new roles. Bennett has been part of the Hogsett administration since 2015.

Lauren Rodriguez

Rodriguez, the former head of the Office of Public Health and Safety, is now deputy mayor of public health and safety. The new position will coordinate crime-reduction, mental health and neighborhood-safety programs between city agencies. Rodriguez was appointed by Hogsett to her prior role in March 2021. 

Taking her place as head of OPHS in January is Martine Romy Bernard-Tucker. Bernard-Tucker is currently assistant supervisor with the Indianapolis Public Defender Agency.

Andrews, former director of the Department of Metropolitan Development, is now deputy mayor of economic development. In this role, she’ll oversee Develop Indy, DMD and the Department of Business and Neighborhood Services to facilitate real estate development, job creation and business engagement. She will also implement the mayor’s downtown resiliency strategy. Andrews joined the Hogsett administration as a mayor’s office project manager in 2017.

Scarlett Andrews

Rusty Carr, deputy director of DMD, will serve as interim director of the department.

New department leaders will step into their roles this winter.

As a follow-up to Dan Parker’s promotion to chief of staff in August, his former position as director of the Department of Public Works will be filled by Brandon Hergert beginning Dec. 19. Hergert is currently the chief financial officer and policy director for the City-County Council.

At the Department of Business and Neighborhood Services, current director Brian Madison is departing by the end of the year. Starting Jan. 1, Abbey Brands will lead the department. She is currently the director of policy and planning at the Department of Public Works and has worked for the city for more than seven years.

The mayor’s office also highlighted in the release two staffers maintaining their roles: Portia Bailey-Bernard, head of Develop Indy, and Judith Thomas, deputy mayor of neighborhood engagement.

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14 thoughts on “Hogsett appoints city’s first chief diversity officer, reorganizes cabinet

  1. Why do we need a Diversity Coordinator?
    Should we not hire the most qualified person without discriminating based on skin color or gender?
    Seems like we’re going backwards in an effort to be Woke.
    I wish our Mayor and Prosecutor would focus on locking up criminals, thus cutting down on the number of our youth dying each day.

    It’s a shame the state of Dem run cities.

    Support our police and the victims of crime.

    1. So obsessed with diversity that you read right past the fact that a new position was created at the highest level to coordinate public health and safety efforts.

  2. Right on, Bernard L.

    It must be frustrating being a Democrat. They wake up every morning and must decide: Are the bulk of my decisions today going to be based on my ignorance or my stupidity?

    1. It must be such a burden for you, Bob, to be SO extraordinarily intelligent. How ever do you manage it. Must be exhausting to have to put up with all the low-IQ cretins around you.

    1. Chief Diversity Officer? Aren’t they paying attention to recent Supreme Court deliberations?

      “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

  3. The value of “equity” is backward and counterproductive.

    In the long, long run it is a (mostly skin color) discriminatory tool to make decisions based on skin color /gender / identity.

    The values of excellence, kindness, hard work, common sense, and honesty would be far better values to promote.

    A chief “excellence” officer would be a better use of resources than a “chief diversity (discriminatory) officer”

    There we go — CDO = chief discriminatory officer

  4. “After the mayor’s announcement, the newly-appointed diversity officer (seen in this photo laughing hysterically) was asked what his first priority would be. Catching his breath, he replied, “I’m going to DISNEYLAND!” before convulsing again in uncontrollable guffaws.

  5. Before Covid most of our Corporate or Customer meetings were Downtown – The JW or the Westin. Not no more – We just had a customer Dinner meeting at the Sheraton / Keystone. Worked out great. Felt safe – plenty of parking.

  6. Look, I accept that “Diversity” is the new priority for city officials. Replacing things like Safety, Security, Strong Business and Conference attendance. We are hearing this week that our standing for meetings and conferences is being threatened by neighboring cities like Nashville, and Louisville. We are being told that it is due to “facilities” but most of us know that the city just doesn’t feel safe anymore. Restaurants and other businesses are leaving downtown. And yet instead of putting in a Director of Public Safety, our Drunk-On power Mayor goes with the diversity headline. And so here we are.

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