Brittany Ford

Brittany Ford

Policy Analyst

January 28, 2020

Organization:

Lucas County Department of Planning and Development

Website:


Tell us more about some of your past projects?

Since 2013, I have worked for the Lucas County Commissioners first as an Executive Assistant, then Project Manager, and now a Policy Analyst in our Department of Planning and Development. Some of my projects and outcomes over this time include:

- Developing, launching, and co-leading Welcome Toledo-Lucas County (TLC), a local cross-sector initiative building a welcoming and inclusive community for immigrants and refugees.

- Partnering on multiple cultural competency trainings and language access planning projects in our region and in our county departments.

- Being a part of a statewide team that advocated for the State of Ohio to create the Office of Opportunities for New Americans and the New Americans Advisory Committee under Republican Governor John Kasich. We partner with the office regularly to address barriers for Ohio immigrants and refugees. A recent partnership includes getting the State of Ohio Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Test translated and administered in Arabic and four other languages. We believe this ground work is at least part of leading the current Republican Governor Mike DeWine to consent to continuing refugee resettlement in Ohio.

- Leading the project for Lucas County to become designated last year as a Certified Welcoming community for inclusion of immigrants and refugees by national organization Welcoming America. The program is an independent audit of government and community programs and services and we because the second county in the country to become certified.

- Last year, coordinating a national pilot project to train more than 30 local workforce and service provider practitioners in better understanding how to assist immigrants and refugees with finding jobs and building careers in our local economy.

I am also the Chair of the Lucas County Impact Coalition, a cross-sector anti-poverty initiative housed in Lucas County Family Council. I am proud of the work that we have done over the years including launching the Employer Sponsored Small Dollar Loan program as an alternative to local predatory lending and supporting efforts to pass a predatory lending ordinance in the City of Toledo.


What current projects are you working on?

I am currently working on transitioning long-term leadership of Welcome TLC to the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. They have hired a Welcome TLC Librarian to administer and lead Welcome TLC, Mely Arribas-Douglas, a former Welcome TLC steering committee member and immigrant and former international student from the Philippines. The Library is going to be a fantastic leader for Welcome TLC and I’m so excited they invested in our work.


What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

It is a small city and region so it is easy over time to learn the landscape and to get to know people in order to build collaborations and partnerships. There are of course things I wish were different, were more progressive, or were better funded but I think we have a lot of local community assets and anchors with our arts community, universities, and our very diverse immigrant and international student community.


Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

My son, Oliver. He’s smart, kind, funny and he turns ten in March. Cheesy I know, but he is my greatest success for sure.


Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

With Welcome TLC, we stand on the shoulder of giants in Toledo. We have had a lot of long-standing community leaders champion us or who have built welcoming and inclusion in our community long before our steering committee came around. Just some of those people and organizations include Welcome TLC founding member Peter Ujvagi, Multifaith Council of Northwest Ohio, United Muslim Association of Toledo, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and Latino Alliance of Northwest Ohio including its Diamante Awards, and so many others. And then the new generation of leaders coming up who are either immigrants and refugees or are their children/grandchildren, including the local volunteers that put on Unified Eid celebrations.

I am also inspired by racial equity and justice work. I read White Fragility last year and it rocked my world. I am inspired by those locally and nationally doing that work and hope to play a supportive role in intersectional racial equity and justice.


Tell us about your background.

I was raised by a single mom in a large working class family in Clyde and later Fremont, Ohio. I went to college at Eastern Michigan University and later graduate school at Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York City. I was the first in my family to get a passport (that I know of) and spent summers through college traveling in Europe and later Southeast Asia and Mexico/Central America. We were so small town, blue collar I had never heard of Columbia University before I was encouraged by a professor to apply there. I moved back from NYC to Ohio in 2009 after the financial crisis and have been raising my smart and funny son Oliver ever since. It is my ten-year anniversary back in Ohio this year!


Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

I am a former workaholic and politico-aholic so “Let it go.”


Favorite place for local culture?

High culture or low culture? Culture is such a fluid, subjective term and that can have many power dynamics. I love the Toledo Museum of Art, local immigrant and people of color-owned restaurants and coffee shops, and anywhere I get to spend time with family, friends, and Oliver.


Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

Is it a secret if I tell you? As far as I know, Curious Cat Café has the best coffee in Toledo, from Chicago’s Intelligentsia, and their croissants are delicious. It is also five minutes from my house. 


My favorite place to chill locally is . . . 

At my house reading a book, cooking while listening to music or an audiobook, or playing a board game with Oliver.


My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . .
 

One of the Metroparks for sure.


When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . .
 

I am usually at home, playing tennis, or going to a movie, one of Oliver’s many activities, or a day trip to Ann Arbor, Detroit, or Lakeside, where my Mom lives.


If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .

Time, money, and emotional and physical health needs and challenges that create barriers for us all to do as much as we want to do.


Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

My grandmother, Barb Tuckerman. She passed two years ago. She was a longtime political organizer and I want to have so many conversations with her now. And I would be humbled to even consider asking Angela Davis.


Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

Ugh, only one? Book: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.


3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

Extroverted introvert + connector.


Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

I’m still mostly stuck on what I listened to in college when I used to go to shows/concerts on a weekly basis:

The Mars Volta - Deloused in the Crematorium

Arcade Fire -  Funeral

Sigur Ros (Unititled)

At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command

Sza - Ctrl


My biggest vice is . . .

So many! My need to be in control. I am un-learning this very terrible behavior.


I’d like to see __________ in Toledo.

Race Forward’s Government Alliance for Racial Equity (GARE)


The best gift I’ve ever received was . . .

The ability to learn.


I want my last meal to be _______________.

Ethiopian food.


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