ITHACA — William (J.R.) Clairborne, Jr., recently started in his position of Tompkins County director of veterans services.
He leads the county’s new Office of Veterans Services (an agency required under New York State Executive Law), which will connect local military veterans to federal and state services, including services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino appointed Clairborne and the county’s legislature approved him in mid-June, according to a Tompkins County government news release. He was selected as the top candidate for the position from among 37 applicants, eight of whom were interviewed by phone, and four finalists, according to Molino.
Clairborne started in his new position on July 29.
Since 2012, Clairborne served as advocacy coordinator for the nonprofit 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, he worked in marketing and communications at both Cornell University and Ithaca College and spent six years as a reporter and assistant editor at the Ithaca Journal.
Clairborne served eight years in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Naval Air Reserve, achieving the rank of petty officer 3rd class; aviation boatswain’s mate - handler.
Clairborne’s past civic experience includes 10 years (2006-2015) as an elected member of the Ithaca Common Council, representing the city’s Second Ward and serving on the Tompkins County Council of Governments, per the release.
He holds bachelor’s degrees in African-American studies and journalism from the University of Kansas.