Gov. Eric Holcomb fulfilled a campaign pledge Thursday by appointing Karrah A. Herring as the state’s first diversity czar.
The official title is chief equity, inclusion and opportunity officer, a cabinet-level position. She will start Feb. 1.
The 38-year-old South Bend resident has been the director of public affairs for the University of Notre Dame since 2011, according to a news release. She was on the university’s human resources leadership team for four years, overseeing institutional equity and implementation of the federal civil rights Title IX law.
In that role, Herring oversaw the university’s efforts to comply with policies related to discrimination, harassment and retaliation, according to the news release. She created affirmative-action plans and oversaw workplace investigations.
Holcomb said Herring will work with state agencies to identify and make changes to improve equality and remove hurdles. She will report directly to the governor.
“My goal is to better build diversity and foster an inclusive environment within state government and the services we provide,” Holcomb said in a prepared statement, ” so every Hoosier can take full advantage of their gifts and potential.”
The CenterPoint Energy Foundation, the charitable arm of the natural gas company, is making a $250,000 contribution to support her office.
Herring said she was honored to take the job.
“This is an incredible opportunity to drive cultural change across state government workplaces and essential state services by increasing equity and inclusion,” she said.
Herring has a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and a law degree from Valparaiso University.
In a televised address Aug. 18, Holcomb announced his intentions to hire a diversity chief. The announcement came as a result of criminal justice protests that rocked much of the nation, including Indianapolis, this summer.
At the time, Holcomb said “Black lives matter” and that racism is as deadly as the COVID-19 virus.
Call IndyStar reporter Chris Sikich at 317-444-6036. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisSikich.