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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

FOCUS ON: Anita Brown-Graham

Anita Brown-Graham

Anita Brown-Graham

As director of ncIMPACT and a professor of public law and government in the School of Government, Anita Brown-Graham focuses on developing opportunities and removing barriers to create jobs for North Carolinians, especially in distressed communities. She works with civic leaders across the state, providing them with sound data, high-quality research and rigorous analysis. ncIMPACT, an initiative of the School of Government, offers the University’s expertise to help communities respond to their most complex problems. Because these problems arise from different areas and reasons, Carolina faculty and staff work across disciplines to serve these communities. A great example of what ncIMPACT aims to do is the Opioid Response Project, which is working with 10 communities across North Carolina to help communities cope with the opioid crisis.

It’s educators figuring out what to do with students who are impacted in their homes. Social service agencies that have seen the number of children in foster care double within a year. County hospitals that aren’t allowed to release bodies because of the state’s backlog. It goes on and on. 

Brown-Graham and her colleagues are determining which Carolina experts can help train these communities and also position them to train one another. Participants in the Opioid Response Project, supported by a grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, are learning and sharing as they develop best practices. 

While these communities deal with effects of the crisis, many people deal with it in a vacuum. They’ll learn how much more can happen if a community comes together, brings the right stakeholders together and moves the project forward.

ncIMPACT also studies the expanding labor market, which can mean even more jobs for the unemployed. Brown-Graham see opportunities in today’s tight labor market.

Many of the people outside the market have the ability to be productive but face some particular barrier. This work gives us an opportunity to work with communities and employers to remove barriers and to bring them back into the labor market. 

ncIMPACT has put people back to work in a state with 4 percent unemployment. The partnership includes local development boards, which serve disenfranchised veterans and those with disabilities, and community college programs, which offer support and a guaranteed job. 

We are working with programs for veterans so that they can explain how a credential in the military translates to a credential in civilian work. We’ve been able to point out effective strategies for getting people to work more quickly and getting them to stay in their jobs. 




Every day, Carolina faculty members engage in groundbreaking research, innovative teaching and public service that impacts in our community and the state, nation and the world.

Tune in to Focus Carolina during morning, noon and evening drive times and on the weekends to hear their stories and find out what ignites their passion for their work. You can listen to WCHL at 97.9 FM or 1360 AM. The interviews will also be available anytime online at under the Focus Carolina tab.

Focus Carolina is an exclusive program on WCHL, sponsored by the University.




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