No. 5 – Aimee Kane
City of Boulder, Colo. | Equity Manager
Collaborative | Inspiring | Empathetic
Organizer | Empathetic Shaker | Steadfast
Empathetic | Dedicated | Impact-Expanding
Aimee Kane has served the people of Boulder, Colorado in many roles during her time with the organization, and each role has been focused on excellent internal and external customer service; respect for community members, co-workers and colleagues; and an ability to create momentum for culture change. In 2019, the City of Boulder began in earnest to invest in a greater awareness and understanding of how existing policies, programs, and processes contribute to racial inequity and oppression in our community. There are many good reasons Aimee Kane was asked to lead this work, including a track record of effective trainings that have made a behavioral difference, and her ability to bring a coalition of colleagues together to each bring their own passion, skills, and perspectives to getting work done. As the nation goes through this vital racial reckoning period of writing out the wrongs, uprooting oppressive systems and changing individuals one heart at a time, Aimee continues to be that voice that elevates our work.
Aimee leads with humility. She quickly connected with the Government Alliance on Racial Equity (GARE) to plug the City of Boulder into a network of experts in the field of social justice and people across the country wrestling with the same reckonings in their own communities. As the work progresses, she has continued to lean on experts judiciously, and lift lived experience while modelling self-education and an open mind and heart.
Aimee’s talent for coalescing teamwork was essential to the development of the City of Boulder’s first Racial Equity Plan, passed unanimously by City Council in February of 2021. This plan was informed by staff, community partners, and most importantly thought input from community members of color. The plan articulates five over-arching goals, with specific action items and a timeline related to each. Aimee has continued to be clear that passing the plan is the first step of the work, not the last, carefully tracking and shepherding each goal to be sure we are upholding the promises to the community that the plan represents.
I am fortunate to work directly with Aimee on two aspects of the plan – “Everybody gets it,” involving staff training to create shared language and understanding of concepts, and “Representation matters,” addressing diversity and inclusion in the city’s spaces of visible power, including staff and advisory boards/commissions. Aimee’s open and vulnerable leadership paves the way for each of her collaborators to bring their best and whole self to each conversation. She regularly reminds us that “Heart work is hard work,” giving space and permission to the challenging emotions that accompany the work of dismantling systems of oppression, and recognizing our own roles within those systems.
Aimee Kane is one of the role models and influencers of my public service journey, and I know I am not alone. Her influence reaches across the country and I highly recommend she receive recognition as a Top Influencer in Local Government.
Aimee’s compassion is both consistent and infectious. She is a natural relationship builder and mentor as well as always eager to lend a hand in support of a colleague. Aimee makes it a priority to engage in dialogue with community to regularly hear about their lived experience, issues, and bright spots.
Aimee is also a model of a relational, person-first way of being. She knows the backstory, pet/child/partner names, and favorite foods of nearly everyone she works with. Her relationships exist on a personal level that creates inclusion and belonging wherever she is. She’s also known to take quick afternoon breaks to connect with colleagues, especially if they haven’t yet discovered the fabulous all-in-one sink/stove/cabinet/fridge 1940s steel appliance that’s tucked away in a city government building.
Aimee created and opened up a door for my work to be elevated, seen and appreciated. The equity work that I have been doing for the last 15+ years has been recognized and completely changed the trajectory of my future and my family’s future. As a single parent and first-generation Latina immigrant, I can count on Aimee Kane to do the necessary work, so that together, we can continue to open up doors for more people and bring them along on this journey. Imagining a government that seeks to serve people in all of its forms, is a vision and a dream worth pursuing alongside her.