On July 29, 2017 the Herald-Sun posted an article by Allison De Marco titled – Another Aspect of Equity: Our Town and County Advisory Boards.
In this article, Allison highlights the importance of advisory boards and the invaluable contributions these volunteers make towards the promotion of public awareness of contemporary issues facing Orange County and the achievement of goals and priorities of the Orange County Board of Commissioners. Allison also highlights the reality that advisory boards are not often representative of the demographic makeup of the community and discusses the importance of inclusive advisory boards. The important reasons include:
- More inclusive boards bring wider perspectives that are more representative of the entirety of our community.
- Research shows that serving on such boards builds the social capital of members as they interact with their colleagues, elected officials, and town and county staff. These interactions, along with the knowledge and experience gained through this service, can lead to wider employment prospects that can help to reduce the racial wealth gap.
- Advisory board service is often a stepping stone to elected office. All of Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen (6 of 6) and the Orange County commissioners (7 of 7), 78% (7 of 9) of the Chapel Hill Town Council, and at least 67% (4 of 6) of the Hillsborough Town Board have previous advisory board service.
- Research also shows that when girls and children of color see people that look like themselves in positions of power they are more likely to have similar aspirations.
In 2017, Town and county staff provided public data on the demographic make-up of the gender, race/ethnicity of County Advisory Boards. That information was placed along-side census data from the American Community Survey estimates from 2011-2015 to compare the overall population to local advisory board membership.