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Inslee names director of new Washington Office of Equity

The Office of Equity was established by the Washington state Legislature and signed into law in April 2020. The appointment is effective March 8.
Credit: Office of Equity
Karen A. Johnson will serve as the director of the state Office of Equity.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington's newly created Office of Equity will now have a director.

Gov. Jay Inslee named Dr. Karen A. Johnson the director of the recently established state Office of Equity on Thursday. The appointment is effective March 8.

“The Office of Equity Task Force benefitted tremendously from the great experience and strong moral force that Dr. Johnson brought to the table,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra, who sponsored the Senate companion to the legislation creating the Office of Equity. “As director of the Office of Equity, she will be a strong and inspirational champion for creating a future that we want our children to live in.”

The Office of Equity was established by the Washington state Legislature and signed into law in April 2020. The goal of the office is to work with agencies to increase access to equitable opportunities in order to bridge opportunity gaps and reduce disparities. 

Johnson currently works as the equity and inclusion administrator for the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) where she incorporates equity diversity, inclusion and respect into DOC policies. She's also worked for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, serving in roles ranging from regional equal employment opportunity program manager to chief administrative officer of the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center.

“Karen brings extensive experience working to transform local and state government systems to more equitably serve Washingtonians,” Inslee said. “She has oriented her entire career around helping disadvantaged communities and instituting lasting systemic and institutional change for generations to come. I have every confidence that she will be an excellent, effective director.”

Johnson holds both a doctorate and a Master of Public Administration from Old Dominion University as well as a a Bachelor of Science from Utica College of Syracuse University.

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