The Leading on Opportunity Council has announced native Charlottean Erin Barbee as its new co-chair. She succeeds education advocate James Ford, who served two years in the role. Barbee will serve alongside inaugural co-chair Andrea Smith, Bank of America’s chief administrative officer.
Leading on Opportunity was created in 2017 to address economic mobility in Charlotte after a Harvard-Cal Berkeley study revealed that children born into poverty in Charlotte are unlikely to escape it. The 18-member council of community and corporate leaders have guided implementing recommendations in areas like education, housing and employment while addressing factors like segregation and social capital.
Barbee, a senior vice president for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, says she’s grateful to continue the council’s work in making necessary systemic changes.
“The current state of our city is showing us that our steps forward toward economic mobility is being challenged because our systems have been disrupted by the pandemic,” she said. “It is also clear to me that we need to continue to be bold and honest about the systemic impact of segregation by both race and income. We cannot fully move into the future until we acknowledge and dismantle the effects of the past.”
Brian Collier, executive vice president of Foundation For The Carolinas and co-author of the Leading on Opportunity Task Force report, welcomes Barbee’s increased involvement from council member to co-chair.
“She is already a force in our community and her energy will further propel our work advancing economic mobility,” he said.