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Director's Log

Director’s Log | December 2023

Sarah Langer Hall headshot
IEI Director Sarah Langer Hall

The end of 2023 is upon us. As we all prepare to take a well-deserved break, I want to use this opportunity to reflect on what made this an exciting and inspirational year for IEI. 

This year, we held our first in-person Emerging Issues Forum since February of 2020. The event and related initiatives surrounding Talent First Economics was well received by attendees and far exceeded our expectations. It was inspiring to see people from all walks of life connect to break down barriers for those seeking employment.

A breakout session from the 2023 Emerging Issues Forum.

In February we also held our Faith and Community Initiative conference (formerly known as RFCAI), bringing together leaders from a variety of faith traditions with local decision makers for the first time in several years to discuss issues important to their communities. 

A table discussion at the Faith and Community Initiative conference in Feb. 2023.

These in-person gatherings, along with our continued virtual peer network groups and hybrid approach to community cohort meetings, has reinforced our adaptability as an organization; always willing to convene in whatever format is best in order to bring different voices and viewpoints together throughout the year.

At IEI we give people the space to come together, but that is only the first step toward actionable change. Earlier this month, I attended the Four-County Regional Conversation on Opportunity Youth; an event organized by the Talent First Economics Community Cohort Cape Fear Region team. This event brought together regional workforce, nonprofit, business and government leaders to collaborate on ways to better connect opportunity youth to local job opportunities. Seeing those who we brought together as a cohort subsequently encourage others to connect and share resources for the benefit of their communities was truly inspirational. 

Sarah Hall at the Four-County Regional Conversation on Opportunity Youth, an event organized by the Talent First Economics Community Cohort Cape Fear Region team.

None of the work we’ve done this year would be possible without our team at IEI. They make coming to work everyday not only meaningful, but also enjoyable. Along with our partners across the state, our national advisory board members and support from leadership at NC State University, our team continues progress toward our vision of making North Carolina a place where people can connect and collaborate to help build a vibrant and more prosperous future for all. Thank you to everyone who made this year exceptional.

While it will be hard to beat 2023, I look forward to all we will accomplish together in the new year and I hope to see you all on February 13 for the Emerging Issues Forum on Weathering Financial Storms. Be sure to grab your ticket before the end of the year to take advantage of our early bird rates (our gift to you!) Happy Holidays from IEI!