1. We have many non-profits on our roster, who work tirelessly to improve our community when it comes to housing, hunger, racial justice, and more. Consider making an end-of-year, tax-deductible donation to one or more of them before 2023 comes to a close. Looking to volunteer over the holidays? Check in with our non-profits about their opportunities to lend a hand!

2. The businesses on our roster love selling gift cards – and the friends and family on your holiday shopping list love receiving them, whether it’s to a restaurant, a specialty shop, a brewery, or a florist.

3. Consider our living wage restaurants when planning holiday celebrations and/or ordering party platters. 

4. Say thank you. If you’re out and about and see an Orange County Living Wage decal, express your gratitude to that business or organization. Acknowledge their efforts to create an economy that works for all. Even better, post your acknowledgement to social media so that others can applaud their efforts as well.

5. Donate to Orange County Living WageOver 260 certified living wage employers appear on our roster. They represent roughly 10% of all workers in Orange County. Grow our living wage movement by making a tax-deductible, end-of-year donation to OCLW. Help us host networking events for our living wage employers/employees, maintain our Job Board, fund promotional efforts for our living wage employers, and most of all, raise workers’ wages!

6. Join our Certification Committee! This involves reaching out to local employers, letting them know about our voluntary certification program and answering any questions those employers may have about our application process. Email us to learn more.

Thank you for showing your appreciation for these positive change makers in our local economy!


The Living Wage Network – of which Orange County Living Wage is a member – is proud to present the Living Wage Gift Guide! As you shop for your loved ones this holiday season, you can make a positive impact by purchasing gifts from businesses and organizations that pay their employees a living wage. You can browse through the guide and shop directly on the companies’ websites, or if you happen to live in the area, stop by in person!

All companies in this guide ship across the United States. These really are the gifts that keep on giving.

Local living wage employers featured in the guide include Big Spoon Roasters, Carrboro Coffee Roasters, Hillsborough Yarn Shop, Rumors, Melissa Designer Jewelry, and Burwell School Historic Site.

The Living Wage Network’s mission is to support worker livelihoods by urging employers to pay living wages, certifying and publicly recognizing living wage employers, and promoting living wages as a matter of conscience within our community.

Orange County Living Wage is thrilled to announce that our certified living wage employers have now raised wages by more than $3 million since our non-profit was founded in 2015.

When a business or organization certifies as a living wage employer, OCLW calculates the total amount they raised wages to meet the living wage threshold. This money often remains in Orange County, as employees spend their dollars where they live and work. A large body of research shows that wage increases – particularly for those at the bottom of the income spectrum – enhance community-level economic activity and support local businesses; reduce the amount by which taxpayers subsidize corporations for the low wages they pay; and lessen the pay inequalities for women and people of color that depress overall economic growth.

In other words, the entire community benefits when wages are lifted!

Catrina Lloyd has joined Orange County Living Wage as executive director.

Catrina has supported Triangle-area non-profit and community service organizations since 2014, with a focus on community engagement and partnership in Durham and Orange counties. Her previous roles include operations and partnerships manager, chief of staff, and interim executive director. She is passionate about community health, economic empowerment, and youth empowerment.

“I am so excited to join OCLW as the first executive director,” Catrina says. “The board has been committed to the organization’s operations and success, and their hard work has made the transition smooth. I look forward to continuing their efforts, executing the strategic plan, and bringing unique experience and insight that will strengthen community outreach and partnerships, and support the longevity and sustainability of the organization.”

“Catrina comes to OCLW with a wealth of experience in non-profit and community organization,” says Debbie Everly, OCLW board chair. “OCLW board members spent many months this past year thoughtfully crafting a three-year strategic plan that will further stimulate a shared community prosperity within Orange County. Catrina will lead this plan with passion and expertise as we expand value-added benefits to employees and employers and foster a deeper sense of community loyalty to our certified living wage employers supporting OCLW’s mission to create a more just and sustainable local economy that works for all.”

Reach out to Catrina at executivedirector@orangecountylivingwage.org.

Our thanks to 97.9 FM WCHL for spreading the word about our recently certified living wage employers. Have a listen the short clips below to learn more about these businesses and organizations – and please support them as you can!

Elysian Fields Farm

Law Offices of Amos Tyndall

Ballet School of Chapel Hill 

Transplanting Traditions Community Farm

Orange Congregations in Mission

Temporary Wall Systems 

Jury X 

Skylark Music School

Endswell Water Cremation


Me-Gi’s Dog Bakery

Lubbers & Sons Tree Care

Chapel Hill Day Care Center

The Cheese Shop

Emerge Pediatric Therapy 

Carolina Jewelry Appraisers

Franklin Street Yoga Center 

Walk & Wag

Carolina Advocates for Climate, Health, and Equity

The Treeist

Earth Yoga

Voices Together


Fiferum Construction 

Equiti Foods

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

On Labor Day afternoon (Sept. 4 from 2 to 6 p.m.), we’re hosting a concert fundraiser at the beautiful Pluck Farm!

This will be fun for the whole family: Enjoy games, an 18-hole disc golf course, gorgeous scenery, and  delicious cuisine from food trucks. The following food trucks will be on site: Blue Window (Mediterranean fare), Larine’s Kitchen (fried fish, sandwiches, fries), and Alsies (ice cream).


Admission is free, and no RSVP is required. 10% of Steel String purchases will support OCLW’s mission. Donations to Orange County Living Wage are encouraged – help us continue to lift wages for the entire community!

The concert will feature performances by Blue Cactus, Mellow Swells, and Titan and Crew (East Chapel Hill High’s jazz band).

This will be a great occasion to celebrate workers and remind our community why we must keep fighting for an economy that works for all.



Kathleen Shapley-Quinn, MD and Todd Shapley-Quinn, MD
(Kathleen is founder of recently certified living wage employer Carolina Advocates for Climate, Health, and Equity

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.

Orange County’s newly updated 2023 living wage for hourly workers is $16.60 an hour, or $15.10 for employers who pay at least half of employees’ health insurance costs. Orange County Living Wage (OCLW) adjusts the living wage annually to keep pace with rising rents.

OCLW determines its living wage by using the widely accepted Universal Living Wage Formula based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standard that no more than 30% of a person’s gross income should be devoted to housing. To calculate the wage, OCLW uses the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in a four-county area including Alamance, Chatham, Durham, and Orange counties.

Since Orange County Living Wage’s voluntary employer certification program began in 2015, nearly 340 employers have certified as paying all full- and part-time employees the living wage. The 266 employers on OCLW’s current roster employ about 9,000 employees in Orange County. In this past year of record inflation, 48 new employers were recognized for their commitment to paying a living wage.

“Someone earning $7.25 per hour will gross $15,080, if they work 40 hours a week all year. In this time of rising costs, it is completely insufficient,” says OCLW Director Susan Romaine. “A $16.60 hourly wage reflects the minimum wage necessary for workers to live close enough to our county to provide essential services like staffing our hospitals, schools, police and fire departments, grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, nonprofits, and more. We commend our 266 certified living wage employers for their leadership in the local economy and for prioritizing their workers.”

When a business or organization certifies as a living wage employer, OCLW calculates the total amount they raised wages to meet the living wage threshold. Since 2015, that total is $2.8 million, with over $950,000 stemming from 2022 wage increases alone – money that is often spent in Orange County.

Learn more about Orange County Living Wage, view postings on the living wage jobs board, or fill out the free application to become a certified living wage employer at orangecountylivingwage.org.