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About Betsy Hodges

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About Betsy

Betsy Hodges is a student of whiteness, a recovering alcoholic, and an advisor to clients about how to navigate whiteness and white resistance in racial equity work.

She was the 47th mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In that job, especially in the crucible of officer-involved shootings, she put into practice first-hand everything she knew about race, whiteness, and policy change.

Mayor Hodges began her commitment to racial equity work in the wake of the 1992 Rodney King verdict. She realized then that racism is inherently a white people problem. This commitment has been at the core of her work ever since. She now consults with mayors and public entities to make their racial equity work effective, especially in strategizing how to navigate white resistance to meaningful systems change. The years she was the mayor of Minneapolis from 2014-2018 was a time of significant racial reckoning in Minneapolis and the country—a reckoning that came to a notorious head after her departure. Her perspective and voice on race are particularly timely.

Mayor Hodges pursues her work on whiteness and with clients by drawing on:

  • Twelve years as Minneapolis Mayor and City Council Member, including bringing 21st-century policing to Minneapolis, leading the way for a citywide sick-leave ordinance, and systemic change for small business’ experience with the city;
  • Decades of experience in community organizing and development, including with Progressive Minnesota and the Minnesota Justice Foundation;
  • Work in recent years with mayors and cities around the country, including with partners like the National League of Cities, Cities United, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, the Kauffman Foundation, and the Mayors Innovation Project;
  • Her 2019 Senior Fellowship with the Atlantic Fellowship for Racial Equity, her 2018 Residential Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute on Politics, and her current Advisory Board Membership for the African American Mayors Association;
  • Academic work in Sociology, including a Master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She also has over thirty years of sobriety and healing from childhood sexual abuse under her belt. This recovery work, and the challenges that prompted it, have given her an unusual measure of compassion, maturity, and eagerness to be of service to people. Her perspective, building on both her professional and personal experiences, is compelling, and it makes her distinctly adept at figuring out how to help white people retreat from their investment in whiteness and reclaim their full humanity. Mayor Hodges knows to her bones the soul cost of forgetting other peoples’ humanity and, therefore, her own.