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Army veteran hired as new director of equity, diversity and inclusion in Anne Arundel County

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman welcomed Richard “Pete” Hill to his position as director of equity, diversity and inclusion on Tuesday, a brand new role within county government.

Hill will begin June 21, and said he wants county residents to know he is here to listen and address their concerns, regardless of political affiliation. His starting salary will be $155,000.

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“I’m feeling extremely excited, and I will tell you why; meeting the executive staff during the interview process, I have absolutely no doubt that my vision about EDI and that of the county executive’s are in perfect alignment,” Hill said.

Richard "Pete" Hill was hired as the county's first equity, diversity and inclusion director. It is a brand-new position within the county. - Original Credit: Anne Arundel County
Richard "Pete" Hill was hired as the county's first equity, diversity and inclusion director. It is a brand-new position within the county. - Original Credit: Anne Arundel County (Handout / HANDOUT)

A resident of Glen Burnie, Hill served as the equal opportunity and diversity management director for the National Weather Service, in which he developed diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity training programs for employees. He is also a U.S. Army veteran.

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Hill said one of the ideas he and Pittman share is regarding the police department and policing. He said he’s always talked about unconscious bias, a prejudice in favor of or against one group of people compared with another, and would like to educate more people on the term.

Pittman said he found the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion training when he learned that the county was ranked first in the state for reported hate crime incidents, according to the 2018 hate bias report by the Maryland State Police.

“We changed our county slogan at that point from ‘the best place’ to ‘the best place for all,’” Pittman said. “We’re very serious about the ‘for all’ part of that.”

The opportunity to work in this position was presented to Hill through an email notice and at first, he was unsure about working on the county level after working several federal positions, but he became more intrigued as he researched the county’s government and found that they had very similar views and goals.

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Hill was asked what his quote would be when he was hired for the position. When he was in the Army, he said he was always told to count people, meaning they were all about compliance but as he gained experience, he learned that, “it’s not about counting people, but starting to make people count.”

According to Pittman, the hiring process for this position was long and arduous.

“We had a forum of community members that interviewed the finalists, and Pete really did shine,” Pittman said. " I think we’ve got just the right person for that job.”

Hill said he was impressed with the interview process because it showed they were truly looking for someone who was well-versed on the topics of equity, diversity and inclusion. He said it was about a 90-day process and the interviews got increasingly difficult.

Some important topics Hill said he’d like to address in his first week as a director are using common language, such as terms like LGBTQ+, something that he believes is an important aspect of people working toward a common goal and unconscious bias awareness.

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