commencement keynote Speaker
MS. ANITA BROWN-GRAHAM
ncIMPACT Initiative Director and PBS NC Host
Distinguished Gladys Hall Coates Professor of Public Law and Government, UNC School of Government
Anita Brown-Graham, Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Professor of Public Law & Government and Director of ncIMPACT Initiative, brings together critical stakeholders to help communities create collaborative change to overcome challenges. She and her team have tackled the need for higher educational attainment, opioid misuse, economic mobility, and community economic development. Sought-after speaker and moderator, Brown-Graham serves as host for the ncIMPACT television program on PBS NC. The public affairs program features innovative community collaborations across North Carolina.
Anita R. Brown-Graham rejoined the UNC School of Government in September 2016 to lead
the public launch of ncIMPACT—a special initiative that seeks to expand the School’s
capacity to work with public officials on complex policy issues. She and her colleagues
bring together critical stakeholders to help communities create collaborative change
to overcome challenges, including keys to economic recovery after COVID, the need
for greater numbers of post-secondary credentials and degrees, expansion of prekindergarten,
and opioid misuse. Sought-after speaker and moderator, Brown-Graham serves as host
for the ncIMPACT television program on PBS NC. The public affairs program features
innovative community collaborations across North Carolina.
Brown-Graham’s first tour as a School faculty member was from 1994 to 2006, during which she specialized in governmental liability and community economic development aimed at revitalizing communities. In 2007, Brown-Graham became Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University. There, she led IEI’s efforts to build North Carolina’s capacity for economic development and prosperity, working with leaders from across the state in the areas of business, government, and higher education to focus on issues important to North Carolina’s future. She began her career as a law clerk in the Eastern District of California.
Brown-Graham is a William C. Friday Fellow, American Marshall Fellow, and Eisenhower Fellow. Past and current board service includes Aspen Institute: Thrive Rural, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC Foundation, Consensus Building Institute, Made in Durham, NC IOLTA, OnBoardNC, Research Triangle Park, Triangle Community Foundation, and Z Smith Reynolds Foundation.
In 2013, the White House named her a Champion of Change for her work at IEI, and the Triangle Business Journal named her a 2014 Woman in Business for her policy leadership in the state and a 2017 CEO of the year. The UNC School of Government named her the Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Professor in 2020.
She earned an undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University and a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.