Campus News

She leads the Carolina Across 100 initiative

As director of ncIMPACT, the School of Government’s Anita Brown-Graham has a reputation for getting things done.

graphic with scales of justice in background, Anita Brown-Graham in foreground, with text: Women Making History featuring Anita Brown-Graham
(Photo illustration by Andrew Jacobs/UNC Creative)

In honor of Women’s History Month, The Well introduces readers to women working at Carolina who are leaving their Heel print on the University and beyond. Read previous stories in the Women Making History series.

Why her work matters

Anita Brown-Graham, the Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government at the School of Government and director of the ncIMPACT Initiative, kick-started Carolina Across 100 in 2022. The goal of the five-year initiative? To determine how the University and local leaders in all 100 counties can partner effectively to apply innovative policy, evidence-based insights and data analysis to deal with the economic and educational impacts of COVID-19.

In the first year, Brown-Graham and her team launched a statewide program, “Our State, Our Work,” to connect young adults to employment. In future years, based on a statewide survey, they will address other COVID-19 impacts such as educational disruptions, employment instability and loss of small business.

Brown-Graham received a UNC General Alumni Association 2023 Faculty Service Award in January.

What people say about her

Anita Brown-Graham ’91 (JD) got kicked out of preschool for refusing to take naps and has been going full tilt ever since. She has a reputation for working hard and an uncanny ability to get things done. … She easily connects with others while demanding much. People typically respond by meeting her expectations because they see the extraordinary effort she puts in. … She is direct and respectful and can speak difficult truths in a way that people can hear without taking offense.

— GAA Board of Directors, Faculty Service Award citation

Who she is

Brown-Graham earned an undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University and a law degree from Carolina. She began her career as a law clerk in the Eastern District of California. She first taught at the School of Government from 1994 to 2006, specializing in governmental liability and economic development aimed at revitalizing communities. She served as director of the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University from 2007 to 2016, where she led efforts to build North Carolina’s capacity for economic development and prosperity. She returned to Carolina to direct ncIMPACT, a statewide initiative launched by the School of Government in 2017 to help local communities use data and evidence to improve conditions and inform decision-making.

For her work at IEI, the White House named her a 2013 Champion of Change, and the Triangle Business Journal named her a 2017 CEO of the year. The TBJ also awarded her the inaugural 2021 Andrea Harris Trailblazer Award.

Adapted from a story by the Carolina Alumni Review. Read the entire story.