Velma J. Korbel, Director

Director Velma Korbel

The Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved Mayor R.T. Rybak’s nomination of Velma Korbel as director of the City of Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights on Friday, April 30. Korbel joins the City from the State of Minnesota Department of Human Rights, where she has served as commissioner since 2003.

Korbel has worked in the field of human rights for over 20 years. Since 2003, she has served as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, where she has led the department through several improvements in case management, quality control, alternative-dispute resolution and outreach.

Korbel’s accomplishments include the resolution of 98.5 percent of all charges presented to Minnesota Department of Human Rights within the legally mandated one-year window; institution of a new workflow-based case-management system to replace an older antiquated system; and putting in place a Quality Assurance Team within the Department’s complaint/case-processing function, which led to a 50 percent reduction in the number of cases returned to investigators.

Prior to heading the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Korbel worked for nine years for the Metropolitan Council, including as director of equal opportunity for the last four. During this time she established the compliance-monitoring regime for Hiawatha light rail design and construction that led to that project’s exceeding its goals for contracting with minority- and women-owned business enterprises, as well as for hiring of women and people of color.

Korbel also served as acting director of equal opportunity and diversity management for the Metropolitan Waste Control Commission. Prior to entering public service, she worked in the human-rights and affirmative-action field in the private sector.

Korbel holds an M.B.A. from American Intercontinental University in Atlanta, and a B.B.A. from National University in San Diego. She is a veteran of the United States Navy, where she served for six years.

Michael K. Browne — Director, Office of Police Conduct Review

Michael K. Browne Jan. 2015On August 20, 2012, Director Korbel appointed Michael K. Browne as the Assistant Director of Civil Rights responsible for the Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA); on September 21, 2012, the Authority’s ordinance was changed and the unit became the Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR).  The OPCR receives, mediates and investigates complaints of police misconduct and serves as the City’s civilian oversight program to the Minneapolis Police Department.  This program also conducts education and outreach.

Mr. Browne’s history with the department includes previous appointments as the Assistant Director of Civil Rights (Complaint Investigations), Director of Outreach and Enforcement and Interim Director of Civil Rights. He also authored several notable works, including evaluations of the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority in 2006 and the City’s Civil Rights complaint process.

Previously Mr. Browne held the appointed position of Legal Affairs Manager at the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, with the primary responsibility for coordinating appeals, conciliations, settlements and other legal matters. As a practicing attorney, Mr. Browne’s practice areas included civil rights, criminal and employment law.

Mr. Browne’s academic background includes a post-graduate fellowship with the Robert Bosch Foundation in Germany, with a focus on police misconduct and comparative criminal law. He also earned a Certificate from the Human Rights Institute/Faculty of Law at the University of Madrid and Helsinki España, and earned a Certificate in Strategic Management from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Minnesota – Duluth and J.D. degree from Hamline Law School in St. Paul. Mr. Browne grew up in Rochester, MN and has lived in North Minneapolis for over 13 years.

Mr. Browne is also an active member of the Roller Toasters Toastmasters Club of Minneapolis and an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

Karen FrancoisKaren L. Francois — Director, Employment Equity Division

In January 2012, Karen Francois joined the Civil Rights Department as Director of Employment Equity for the City of Minneapolis. She joins the One Minneapolis Equity in Employment project team in the ongoing efforts of the city to mitigate the racial disparity in employment. One Minneapolis equity in employment program was one of the only new programs Mayor Rybak and the city council funded in 2012 with an initial investment of $300,000. A key focus of the initiative is on providing hard-to-employ workers with training and placement for good jobs in the green economy.

Karen is responsible for connecting employers that have identified current or future job opportunities to city job training programs and to minority candidates that have successfully completed training but have not been able to secure jobs. Karen also will be responsible for convening a council of advisers who are leaders from business, government, philanthropy and the nonprofit community whose purpose will be to advise, support and advocate in a variety of ways that will enable the City to move even more aggressively toward closing the employment gap. Additionally, Karen will work with Director Korbel to identify opportunities for collaboration with other city departments to carry out elements of the goal of Many People, One Minneapolis.

Assistant Director, Contract Compliance Division

The Assistant Director for the City of Minneapolis’ Contract Compliance Division is responsible for the Small Underutilized Business Program (SUBP), Prevailing Wage Ordinance, Davis-Bacon, employment goals, Section 3 and Affirmative Action planning.

More contributor information coming soon.

Toni D. Newborn — Interim Assistant Director, Complaint Investigations Division

Toni NewbornOn August 20, 2012, the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights welcomed Toni D. Newborn to serve as the Interim Assistant Director of Civil Rights for the Complaint Investigations Division. This program enforces the city’s anti-discrimination laws and policies. With the core team of two investigators, an administrative analyst, and a screener, the program processes civil rights complaints, maintains an ADR program, conducts investigations and outreach, engages in conciliation, monitors settlements and staffs the Minneapolis Commission on Civil Rights.

Ms. Newborn’s tenure with the Department began in 2004 as an investigator in the Complaint Investigation Division. She transitioned from the investigator position to serving as the Senior Investigator for the Division.

Ms. Newborn’s educational background commenced in Birmingham, Alabama, her home town, where she graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2003 with a B.A in Political Science.  In 2007, she obtained a Juris Doctorate degree from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Newborn became a licensed attorney for the State of Minnesota in 2008.

Ms. Newborn’s past and current affiliations include serving as a board member of North Community YMCA and she is an active member of Roller Toasters Toastmasters Club of Minneapolis International.

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