Birmingham executive director Promise announces intention to step down
Birmingham Promise chief Rachel Harmon will step down in early 2022, and the economic mobility initiative will soon launch a national search for a new CEO.
Harmon, who is leaving to attend Yale Law School, will stay on until a new principal is hired and has time to move into that role.
“Helping to create and run the Birmingham Promise has been a tremendous honor and a privilege,” said Harmon. “Although the start is bittersweet, I am so proud that the Birmingham Promise will exist long after my transition and will continue to help Birmingham students realize their potential and fulfill their dreams.”
Regional Director Leroy Abrahams, who is Chairman of the Birmingham Promise Board of Directors, praised Harmon’s work in launching Birmingham Promise and guiding its early years.
“When we hired Rachel as Executive Director, we knew she had the skills and the passion to put this new organization on a solid footing,” said Abrahams, Executive Vice President of Community Affairs at Regions. “It’s a testament to her leadership that we are now able to move forward and build on what she has accomplished. ”
Abrahams said the post will be published on November 1 and that the hope is to identify a new director by early 2022. One of the new leader’s goals will be to build on the early successes of the organization in fundraising and strengthening community partnerships.
Birmingham Promise provides up to four years of tuition assistance for graduates of Birmingham City Schools attending public colleges and universities in Alabama. It also runs an internship and apprenticeship program that allows high school students to gain valuable work experience while earning money and earning academic credit.
Since 2020, the program has provided nearly 800 Birmingham graduates with financial support and success coaching during their enrollment at the university. It has also provided 150 apprenticeship places, and an additional 100 student apprentices are expected to find jobs this spring.
Under Harmon’s leadership, Birmingham Promise has secured more than $ 25 million in private and public support for the program, as well as partnerships with a wide range of community organizations and businesses. Among others, more than 80 local employers participated in the apprenticeship program.
Harmon worked in the city of Birmingham when she started the Birmingham Promise program, and she continued to play a key role as the initiative grew into an independent, non-profit organization. She was hired as the first executive director of Birmingham Promise in April 2020, at a time when COVID was creating significant challenges for educational institutions, employers and other community organizations.
“Rachel moved Birmingham Promise forward through a time of uncertainty and upheaval in virtually every industry due to the impact of the pandemic. I couldn’t be more grateful for his tenacity and determination, ”said Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “As we move forward, I will continue to work closely with the new leadership to promote the Birmingham Promise and the opportunities it offers to young people in our city.”
A Rhodes scholar, Harmon was accepted to Yale Law School earlier this year and has deferred his admission to ensure stability and continuity as he searches for a new principal.
“Birmingham’s promise is to make a difference in the lives of our students and build a more prosperous future for our city,” said Harmon. “I leave with the confidence that this organization will accomplish its mission in more ways than I can imagine. ”