Ms. Andrea Harris (1950-2021)

Andrea Harris, 1966 graduate of Henderson Institute dedicated her life to helping Vance County residents overcome barriers to economic parity. At the young age of 23, Ms. Harris was the youngest in the nation to lead a Community Action Organization created to fight poverty across three rural counties. Serving in this capacity Ms. Harris gained insight into how the “system works or “doesn’t work” for families living in poverty. Andrea also worked for a brief stint in a traditional job at the NC Department of Commerce (DOC), supporting the efforts of Minority Businesses. While at the NC DOC she gained insight into the needs of businesses owned by people of color and their constant struggle to secure startup and operating capital. She also gained an understanding of how NC politics worked from the inside, information that was valuable to her lifelong efforts. After her short stint with the NC DOC, Andrea sought to pursue her efforts independently.  In 1986, Andrea and two of her colleagues founded the Institute of Minority Enterprise Development, an organization dedicated to supporting minority and women owned businesses. The Institute had much success in helping to establish relevant state and local public policy to support minority business development;  Afterwards she supported numerous other initiatives that further exemplified her lifelong dedication toward advocating for economic parity for underserved populations including: Serving as First Senior Fellow at the Self Help Credit Union (2017) where she continued to advocate for education, health and better economic opportunities;  Regional Office of Community Services; 1984 North Carolina office of State Government;  2020 Honoree of the Heritage Calendar; Hall of Fame; Member of the Board of Trustee, Vance-Granville Community College and a Member of the Board of Trustee Gateway Community Development to name a few.

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