Our board has approved a strategic plan to guide our work over the next three years. Here’s an overview:

In July, Debbie Everly became the new chair of Orange County Living Wage’s board of directors.

Debbie is a local residential real estate professional. She strongly believes in community engagement to frame and support a collaborative, equitable, and safe place for all who live and work here. Debbie is also a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer and longtime Special Olympics Orange County volunteer coach. She and her husband, Johnny, are parents to a Brady Bunch family of five amazing young adults and one silly pup named Wilbur. Other passions include anything related to nature – plus enjoying life and local food/music with friends.

“The passing of the baton into Debbie’s very capable hands could not come at a better time for Orange County Living Wage,” says Susan Romaine, founding OCLW board member and previous board chair. “In July, we celebrate the eighth anniversary of our very first certification, Marcoplos Construction, and the adoption of our first strategic plan. Debbie will lead with an appreciation for our organization’s past, and a vision for living wages as central to a more just and sustainable local economy working for all.”

“I am excited to be taking over as chair at such a pivotal time in OCLW’s history,” Debbie says. “Susan Romaine and the other founders created an impressive vision that has resulted in close to $3 million in raised wages for workers at the low end of the pay scale. With our newly implemented three-year strategic plan, we intend to further uplift OCLW’s mission by raising awareness of living wage issues through community connection, increasing value-added benefits and services to certified employers and employees, and much more! Susan is a hard act to follow, but with our hard-working and passionate board and a solid strategic plan, I know we are going to achieve great things.”

In other board news, on May 17, OCLW’s board of directors participated in a DEI training facilitated by Dr. Travis Albritton, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of North Carolina’s School of Social Work.

To begin the training, John Gast’s famous painting depicting Manifest Destiny, American Progress, appeared on a screen – sparking conversation around the roots of mistrust in those groups of people who have been historically oppressed by white Americans. That deep sense of mistrust, passed from one generation to the next, goes to the very core of DEI efforts today, says Dr. Albritton. Rebuilding the trust is slow and in-person; one workplace, one conversation at a time.

OCLW is fully committed to the process, knowing that a diverse mix of voices at the table leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.

This week’s Hometown Hero on WCHL  is John Barrow, a longtime counseling psychologist at Duke who, in his retirement, has served on the board of directors for Orange County Living Wage since it was launched seven years ago. As he prepares to step down from our board, 97.9 The Hill and Chapelboro.com formally recognize Barrow for his active contributions toward making Orange County a fairer, more accessible place. One of our founders, Susan Romaine, talked to WCHL’s Aaron Keck about John’s impact. Have a listen.