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On Nov. 1, 2021, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles announced a $250M initiative to help bridge the digital divide, invest in corridors of opportunity, help transform Johnson C. Smith University, and recruit and advance people of color in business. Click the headline above to read more about this initiative.

Charlotte Alliance knew of audit, request for criminal inquiry before hiring equity leader

The head of the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance says she was aware of the background of the woman she selected to help oversee the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative.

Kim Henderson was hired to help oversee the Mayor's Racial Equity Initiative.
Charlotte Regional Business Alliance
Kim Henderson was hired to help oversee the Charlotte Mayor's Racial Equity Initiative.

A state audit found the Ohio agency Kim Henderson led paid out $3.8 billion in fraudulent and inflated unemployment claims. Last May, the Ohio attorney general asked police to launch a criminal investigation into Henderson and her staff to see if they violated any statutes including dereliction of duty, obstruction of official business and falsification. WCNC first reported that late last week.

The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance’s Janet LeBar said in a statement she factored this as well as Henderson’s capabilities into her decision to hire her as the executive director of the Employer Office of Inclusion and Advancement. LeBar noted Henderson’s work will be supervised by two oversight boards.

Henderson stepped down as executive director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services in March 2021 after serving just over two years. The audit was released last October. It partly attributed the payments to “a failure of early action and prevention” and said the audit was launched after the department “failed to disclose the risk and magnitude of ongoing fraud.”

In her previous job, Henderson served as general counsel of Columbus State Community College.

The Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative was announced last November to address racial disparities. The $250 million campaign includes contributions from philanthropists, companies and $80 million in public money.

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Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.