Updated 6/25 to add additional information.
It’s been several months since I last updated readers on the ups and downs of the CHRO, the state agency responsible for overseeing discrimination complaints in Connecticut. And for the last several months longtime employee Raymond Pech filled in as Executive Director without getting the sorts of headlines that have plagued some of his predecessors.
A review of the minutes of the CHRO’s May meeting reveals that a search for an full-time executive director was continuing in light of Pech’s impending retirement. The CHRO has thus appointed Robert Brothers, Jr. as the new Acting Executive Director, effective June 1, 2008. Mr. Brothers continues to serve as Managing Attorney for the CHRO as well, as this organization chart reveals.
Notably, the vote on the appointment of Mr. Brothers was not unanimous, according to the meeting minutes. Mr. Brothers was appointed 4-1, with one abstention. The minutes of the meeting note:
The Chair stated that while he may not be called upon to vote on the motion, he believes Mr. Brothers is a dedicated, hardworking and bright individual who is also dedicated to the agency and its mission and the agency will be in good hands for the period of time he will be serving as Acting Executive Director. There was no further discussion on the motion. The motion carried with Commissioners Conaway, Cruz, Griffin and Mambruno voting in favor of themotion. Commissioner Lobon opposed the motion and Commissioner Mengual abstained.
Commissioner Mengual explained that she has chosen to abstain on the motion because her recommendation was to appoint an acting director who is from outside of the agency. She stated she feels someone with strong organizational expertise and experience as an executive director would be the ideal appointment for this acting director position. She further clarified that her abstention is no reflection of her opinion of Mr. Brothers’ capabilities, but rather, her concern about the growing demand within the legal department and her already expressed interests about having a fresh, outside perspective brought in during this interim period, which would be very productive. Chairperson Norton thanked Mr. Brothers in advance for the good services the Commission expects and hopes for.
In the interim, for employers this likely means that there probably won’t be any big changes in the way the CHRO handles matters. Without a permanent Executive Director (and with the Assistant Director position still vacant), I believe the expectations are that Attorney Brothers will hold the fort until the "calvary" comes. Of course, he may have different plans.
On a related note, late last year there was word of an advisory group that had been formed to look at the workings of the CHRO. It appears that a report is expected from that group this summer, according to the minutes:
Chairperson Norton reported he spoke to some individuals in the Governor’s Office regarding the Advisory Group on CHRO, as well as Jeffrey Beckham, Undersecretary at the Office of the Policy Management, who now serves as Chair of the Advisory Group. Although there is not a lot to report at this point in time, they are looking at diversity issues in state agencies and they are inviting all of the Commissioners to come and speak to them at their next meeting scheduled for May 19. They hope to have a report to the Governor some time this summer.