Fast Five with Willie Ratchford

Published on July 27, 2023

Willie Ratchford

In honor of Disability Pride Month, we interviewed Community Relations Director Willie Ratchford. With more than 48 years of service, he manages the department and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee (CRC). The department covers the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) program, community affairs, fair housing, the nondiscrimination ordinance and more. 

Read this month’s Fast Five to learn more about Ratchford and the importance of the ADA. 

Which part of the organization do you lead?

I lead Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations, the committee and department.  

Why did you decide to work for the City of Charlotte?

I started working for the city in 1975 when I was fresh out of college and needed employment. My position as an intake generalist with the Neighborhood Centers Department provided an opportunity for me to work with and help people in the community, a lifelong passion of mine.

What is the biggest organizational priority you’re working on right now?

As the Executive Director of CRC, the biggest organizational priority I am working on right now is promoting diversity of people and perspectives in our organization and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community. This includes pursuing justice with equal rights and equitable opportunities for everyone; promoting inclusion via power, voice, and organizational culture; and honoring equity in policy, practice, and position.

What is your favorite part about working for the City of Charlotte?

Without a doubt, just working every day with the diverse workforce that we call Team Charlotte, all 8,000 plus of us.

What is your favorite restaurant in Charlotte?

The Capital Grille.

Bonus Question for Disability Pride Month: Why is the ADA important?

ADA is important because as a community that appreciates diversity and belonging, we want every resident of Charlotte-Mecklenburg to have access to all that the city has to offer. While our attention to the needs of the disabled community is required by law under Title II of the ADA, a key priority of my department’s work is to bring awareness so everyone can understand the value of inclusion. Finally, most, if not all, people want to live a long life. The truth be told, if we live long enough, eventually we all will become disabled. As disabled people, our quality of life will be better if we recognize the importance of ADA now.