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Safe and Thriving Communities Division Hires Its First Division Director

HSD is excited to welcome Rex Brown, who has been hired as the first director of the new Safe and Thriving Communities Division! This is a very exciting moment for the communities we serve, and Rex looks forward to meeting department staff and our community partners in the weeks ahead. Rex will join HSD on July 7, 2021.

Headshot photo of Rex Brown, Safe and Thriving Communities Division Director

From the moment I watched the first seconds of what became the end of George Floyd’s life, I realized the urgency of finding a way to protect the most vulnerable people in the most vulnerable places. I did not then, and I do not now believe that we must accept casual violence and racism as an inescapable part of life and our society. I want to work in this new safety division to directly address the needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities in a way that reimagines a society in which every person has the agency to meet basic needs with dignity. As a society, that is the only way we can truly thrive. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Rex Brown, Safe and Thriving Communities Division Director

Prior to his selection as Safe and Thriving Communities Division Director, Rex led the Governor’s Sub-Cabinet on Business Diversity at the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises, where he led the first Statewide Disparity Study in 2019, which addressed systemic inequity in state contracting across Washington. Rex also launched the first Washington State Community of Practice to implement race- and gender-conscious policies, initiatives, and tools to help increase the use of certified minorities, women, and veterans in state procurement practices.

Rex’s experience in race, equity, diversity, and inclusion extends beyond the government sector. As an alum of the Boston College Law School, Rex took up leadership of the Black Alumni Network (BAN) as its president. During his tenure, Rex refocused BAN’s African-American recruitment/retention efforts as an integral component of BC Law’s mission for social justice, established the Ruth Arlene W. Howe Scholarship (which was named for the first African-American female faculty member to achieve tenure and the rank of full professor at BC), and helped guide the selection of BC Law School’s first African-American dean.

Rex is joining HSD at a critical moment. The new Safe and Thriving Communities Division will be at the forefront of investing in community-led safety strategies for BIPOC communities and its first major round of investments (the Community Safety Capacity Building RFP) will be awarded this summer. Rex’s leadership will be key in building this new division and overseeing these investments in partnership with community. We look forward to his leadership on these incredibly important issues.