The Office of Mayor Ed Gainey created the Black Women’s Equity Initiative (BWEI) to respond to various reports published to highlight the all too well-known fact that the City of Pittsburgh has not been systemically livable for Black women.

The initiative is focused on implementing solutions within the direct control of the City government — meaning the various City departments, boards, authorities, and commissions, and as an employer of over 3,600 employees.

BWEI is advised by the lived experiences and expertise of over 50 Black women across the City of Pittsburgh. Additionally, the Initiative is consulting with Black women who serve as City department Directors and leaders, who will ultimately lead the charge of creating systemic changes in City government, services, and employee operations.


Principles that shape the work of the Black Women's Equity Commission: Centering Black women of the African diaspora, collaboration, transparency and accountability, implementation focused, right role of government, intersectional and interdisciplinary, a

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View the principles that shape our work in the graphic above, or read them below.

These guiding principles shape our work and commitment to equity and inclusivity within the Pittsburgh region. The principles are:

  • Centering Black Women of the African Diaspora: We need to make significant progress in centering the communities that endure the most impact from broken systems yet rarely get the opportunity to discuss their needs, experiences, and ideas for change.
  • Collaboration: Working with community members, local organizations, and nonprofits to ensure that we are fostering a sense of partnership and giving everyone a chance to contribute to this initiative.
  • Transparency and Accountability: Being open and honest about the process, progress, and barriers that exist as we work towards long-lasting solutions, as well as taking responsibility for shortcomings and problem solving those challenges.
  • Implementation Focused: It is not enough to do research and reports on issues if we are not following up with actions to create lasting change. We are measuring our success based off of our ability to implement the advice and ideas of the BWEI steering committee.
  • Right Role of Government: We as a city government want to use our influence as an employer and a provider of services through city departments and authorities to create lasting changes that ensure equity for all. We also want to empower community organizations and businesses to follow our lead in prioritizing equity and inclusivity.
  • Intersectional and Interdisciplinary: Black Women are not a monolith. Each person’s needs are impacted by all their identities and life experiences. We have to prioritize empathy as we look at each issue from a variety of perspectives to ensure that we are truly inclusive in our problem-solving techniques.
  • Share Best Practices and Learning: When we make significant strides and see the benefits of change, it is our responsibility to share those methods and tools with other communities and organizations so it can benefit them as well.


  • Timeline item 1 - complete

    May 2022 – First Steering Committee Meeting

    • Identified 5 core focus areas to break into sub-committees
    • Utilize a solutions and strengths-based approach
    • Using existing data and recommendations from Black women
  • Timeline item 2 - complete

    October 2022 – Second Steering Committee Meeting

    • Reinforcing the “right role of government”
    • Identified partnerships for developing the Quality-of-life scale and the ecosystem of equity
    • Overview of existing policy recommendations based on previous reports
    • 2023 budget allocations and how they relate to equity investments
  • Timeline item 3 - complete

    November 2022 – Third Steering Committee Meeting

    • Responded to requests for more collaboration and capacity-building opportunities
    • Update on Quality-of-Life Index
    • Reviewed policies recommendations from the report scan
    • Reviewed the draft EngagePGH page and its components
  • Timeline item 4 - complete

    February 2023 – Fourth Steering Committee Meeting

    • Advanced the work of sub-committees
    • Discussed an Empowerment, Celebration and Access Public Launch event
  • Timeline item 5 - complete

    April 2023 – Fifth Steering Committee Meeting

    • Evaluated Policy Report scan and the city’s role in creating systems for change
    • Further discussed the Public Launch event
  • Timeline item 6 - complete

    October 2023 – Sixth Steering Committee Meeting

    • Focused on methods for creating inclusion and access for Black Women within the city and how to center the communities with extreme/high need
    • Identified how to measure success in the short and long term
    • Evaluated the work that has been done to advance Black Women’s inclusion and access within the City of Pittsburgh


Structure of the BWEI

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View the initiative structure in the graphic above, or read about it below.

Initiative structure: How we work together the make the work of this initiative a reality.

  • Mayor's Office Team: Tasked with staffing and advancing the steering committees' efforts by conveying recommendations to the Office of the Mayor and helping to enact those recommendations within the many departments and authorities that exist under the scope of city government.
  • City Government: Enacting recommendations from steering committee on an internal level and relaying feedback on successes and challenges of implementing changes within their specific range of work.
  • Steering Committee: Over 50 Black women who give guidance and feedback on areas in which the city can create equity for Black women in a variety of focus areas within the city government’s scope of impact.
  • Broader Community: Providing feedback on the prioritization and implementation of recommendations on an external level.

Steering Committee


Kathy Humphrey

Carlow University

In Progress

  • Develop a wellness index for Pittsburgh
  • Engage with Black women on the ground through paid community facilitation and participation

Andre Perry

Brookings Institute

In Development

  • Analyze areas of growth to determine where Black women are doing well
  • Identify what industries & systems promote (or hinder) growth

Ron Idoko

Pitt's Center on Race and Social Problems

In Development

  • Provide resources for Black women to scale and grow their capacity for their respective work
  • Organize community engagements

Right Role of Gov't

In-depth description of the Right Role of Government

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View the graphic above to read about the "Right Role of Government," or read about it below.

The right role for city government and an ecosystem of equity includes:

  • Direct Impact (things the city can directly impact within the governmental scope of work), including:
    • As an Employer: Prioritizing equity as we work to provide opportunities for employment and professional development.
    • As a Service Provider: Creating and upholding standards of inclusion, diversity, equity, and access within the city government services across departments and authorities.
  • Indirect Impact (how the city can use its platform to convene and influence community organizations and businesses and businesses to follow our lead in prioritizing equity and inclusivity), including:
    • As an Advocate: Sharing our successes as a model for other communities and organizations to benefit.
    • As a Partner: Creating a space for partners to convene and collaborate on efforts to improve the lives of our residents, with a specific focus om Black women.

Focus Areas

Focus Areas for the Black Womens Equity Initiative.

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Read about initiatives that are already in progress and advancing our Focus Areas here.

View the graphic above to read about the Areas of Focus for the Black Women's Equity Initiative or read about it below.

Areas of Focus include:

  • Health and Wellness: Focus on identifying ways to improve health and wellness outcomes for Black women in Pittsburgh within the City's jurisdiction.
    • Areas may include: social determinants of health, the impact of COVID-19, public safety, and childcare.
  • Economic Development: Focus on strengthening the economic fabric of communities.
    • Areas may include: Workforce development, pay equity, the allocation of resources for land and capital, city planning.
  • Business Entrepreneurship: Focus on elevating opportunities, removing barriers and improving accessibility for Black women business owners.
    • Areas may include: Minority and women business enterprise, financial empowerment.
  • Housing: Focus on ways to accelerate quality, affordable housing, and home ownership.
    • Areas may include: Expanding and preserving the housing supply, tenant protection, and neighborhood plans.
  • Leadership Development: Focus on amplifying the career mobility of Black women in Pittsburgh.
    • Areas may include: Mentorship, shadowing professionals, workforce opportunities.