Forum Overview

The 2022 Emerging Issues Forum will bring together local, state and national leaders to call attention to North Carolina’s postsecondary educational attainment gap and to the impact of the pandemic on efforts to close it. Because education is fundamentally local in character, effective action must take place at the community and regional levels across the state. The event will explore what makes for effective collaboration while showcasing promising practices that help all students, but especially students in groups with historically lower attainment rates, to get ready for, gain access to and successfully complete postsecondary educational opportunities.

The Business Imperative to Promote Attainment

Employer engagement is essential to getting the workforce that North Carolina’s companies need. At a local level, this includes collaborating with secondary and higher education institutions to expose learners to career options and to inform and ensure updated curricula and related educational pathways. Employers must also be advocates for educational attainment efforts within their communities.
Lynn Good, Chair, President and CEO, Duke Energy

Where Do We Stand in Meeting Our Attainment Goals?

What has been the impact of the pandemic on educational attainment in North Carolina and where do we stand in terms of meeting myFutureNC’s goal of 2 million North Carolinians (ages 25-44) with a high quality credential or degree by 2030?
Speaker: Becky Tippett, Director, Carolina Demography

Boosting Local Success from the State Level, Part 1

This segment describes how employers, educators, workforce developers and supporting state agencies must work–individually and together–to develop the workforce our state needs today and in the future.
Speaker: Machelle Baker Sanders, Secretary, NC Department of Commerce

Boosting Local Success from the State Level, Part 2

How are our state’s educational systems supporting efforts to raise attainment levels and close historical attainment gaps? This panel explores key initiatives, including action to coordinate more effectively across the educational pipeline.
• T
homas Stith, President, NC Community Colleges
Catherine Truitt, Superintendent, NC Department of Public Instruction
Hope Williams, President, North Carolina Independent College & Universities

Strategies That Work for Closing Attainment Gaps

This session highlights state and local policies and other supports that close historical attainment gaps.
Scott Jenkins, Strategy Director for State Policy, The Lumina Foundation 
• MC Belk Pilon, President and Board Chair, the John M. Belk Endowment 
• Javaid Siddiqi, President and CEO, The Hunt Institute 

North Carolina’s Communities Respond

Local communities describe how they are rising to the challenge of closing educational attainment gaps.

Collaborating for Success From the Ground Up

Drawing from several ongoing initiatives across the state, this session outlines key elements for effective local collaborations that promote educational attainment and close attainment gaps.  

Moderator: Anita Brown-Graham, Director, ncIMPACT, School of Government, UNC Chapel Hill

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

How to Have Cross-Sector Conversations to Promote Collaboration
Facilitated by: Cris Charbonneau, Director of Advocacy and Engagement, myFutureNC
In this hands-on session, learn what effective cross-sector conversations look like and how to evaluate your own community’s readiness to collaborate in ways that will move the needle on educational attainment.


Helping Employers with What They Need Most: Employer-led Sector Collaborations,
• Matt Meyer, Business Engagement and National and International Partnerships, NC Community Colleges
• Scott Panagrosso, Sector Strategy Coordinator, NC Dept. of Commerce 

Learn how industry-led sector partnerships can be–and should be–a cornerstone to responsive local/regional strategies that boost competitiveness by helping employers with what they need most.

Moving to Action – What Will You Do?


Some session titles are subject to change and additional concurrent breakout sessions will be added. Check back in early January for updates.