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J.R. Clairborne Appointed Director of Veterans Services

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J.R. Clairborne Appointed Director of Veterans Services

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

William Clairborne, Jr. (known as J.R.) has been appointed to assume the position of Tompkins County Director of Veterans Services.  The Legislature confirmed County Administrator Jason Molino’s appointment of Mr. Clairborne tonight.  J.R. will lead the County’s new Office of Veterans Services (an agency required under NYS Executive Law), which will connect local military veterans to Federal and State services, including services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Since 2012, Mr. Clairborne has served as Advocacy Coordinator for Loaves and Fishes of Tompkins County, where he has provided advocacy services (counseling, referral, and connection to basic services) to the agency’s dining guests in need, including military veterans. Before that, J.R. worked in marketing and communications for both Cornell and Ithaca College and spent six years as a Reporter and Assistant Editor for the Ithaca Journal.  The new Director served eight years in the United States Navy and U.S. Naval Air Reserve, achieving the rank of Petty Officer 3rd Class; Aviation Boatswain’s Mate – Handler.  He holds Bachelor’s Degrees (in African-American Studies and Journalism) from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

Mr. Clairborne’s past civic experience includes ten years (2006-2015) as an elected member of Ithaca’s Common Council representing the City’s Second Ward and serving on the Tompkins County Council of Governments.  Current affiliations include the Community Housing Development Fund, United Way of Tompkins County, and the Tompkins County Public Information Advisory Board.

Administrator Molino told Legislators that J.R Clairborne was selected as the top candidate for the position from among 37 applicants, eight of whom were interviewed by phone, and four finalists.  Before the vote Legislature Chair Martha Robertson said, “I am delighted that we are considering J.R. as the first Veterans Services Director for Tompkins County.  It’s a real pleasure to welcome J.R. to the Tompkins County family.”  Legislator Michael Lane said he has had an opportunity to work with Clairborne many times over the years and praised him as an effective voice on the Council of Governments.  “He has great leadership qualities and will be a positive force in this position,” Mr. Lane said.

J.R. Clairborne is the husband of Legislator Leslyn McBean-Clairborne.  The Legislature’s motion to confirm Clairborne’s appointment included approval of a Nepotism Compliance Plan and Agreement, in accordance with County policy and its Ethics Code.  Legislator McBean-Clairborne excused herself from all discussion, including the confirmation vote.  Mr. Clairborne’s appointment was approved by a vote of 11-0, with Legislators Mike Sigler, Amanda Champion, and McBean-Clairborne excused. 

“To say I am excited to serve our veterans’ community in this way is an understatement,” Mr. Clairborne said.
“It is a humbling honor to be selected by our county’s leaders to step up for the benefit of the men and women who have donned a uniform in service to our nation, as well as their families.”

Director Clairborne is expected to begin service as Director of Veterans Services in late July.