Zan Tewksbury, Manager of the Office of Human Rights, City of Charlottesville
Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I was born a fifth generation Lowellian (MA), but spent my preschool years in the DC area, my elementary years in Wisconsin, and my secondary school years here in Charlottesville/Albemarle.
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
I returned to Charlottesville just a year ago to be near my parents and closer to my kids. Fortuitously, this job appeared shortly after my move back here.
What were you doing before you came to work for the City?
I was a civil rights lawyer and mom in Portland, OR.
Your job title is Manager of the Office of Human Rights – what, in your own words, would you say you do?
I actually have two titles, the other being Director of the Human Rights Commission. Both are new positions in the City, so I have been busy to date creating operating procedures for the office, hiring staff, and helping the Commission get up and running in its mission. My main duties are to manage the day-to-day administration of the office, to provide staff support for and guidance to the Human Rights Commission, and to receive or refer, investigate, and attempt to conciliate complaints of discrimination brought under the Charlottesville Human Rights Ordinance.
What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
The most appreciated part of the work is being able to utilize my legal background and passion for social justice without having to litigate for change, but still to be in a position to offer assistance to those in need. The most difficult part of the job so far has been distilling into a really short pitch what this Office does, as the scope of our charge is so huge. Department of Communications is helping with that, though!
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
As the person in the City tasked with overseeing compliance with the Charlottesville Human Rights Ordinance, I have the opportunity to assist citizens with issues concerning discrimination that may impact their work, housing, or other life situation.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the City?
Getting to know what a truly great city Charlottesville is committed to becoming, through one-on-one and group interactions with a wide variety of members of our community.
What is a little-known fact about you?
I have a black belt in the Nia Technique, a mind/body/spirit movement practice, that I used in my law career to help other women lawyers achieve greater work/life balance and overall health.