Rachel Harmon

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Rachel Harmon

Rachel V. Harmon (born c. 1994 in Champaign, Illinois) is a former Birmingham city official who developed and served as first executive director of the Birmingham Promise Initiative.

Rachel's father, Charles Harmon, was a truck driver and the long-time pastor of Dublin Street Church of Christ in Champaign. Her mother, Beverly, was employed by the U.S. Postal Service. She attended Kenwood Elementary School and Jefferson Middle School, where she was inspired by reading about the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.

Harmon attended the University of Illinois Laboratory High School in Urbana-Champaign and spent a year after graduating as an AmeriCorps worker tutoring elementary school students in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. She went on to complete a bachelor of science in labor and industrial relations at Cornell University, with a semester abroad conducting an independent study in rural political participation in Western Uganda. While at Cornell she volunteered with the university's prison education program and worked as manager of the Green Dragon Café.

In 2015 Harmon completed a Master of Philosophy degree at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, studying evidence-based methods for evaluating public policies. During the summer she completed an internship in macroeconomic research at Bridgewater Associates in Westport, Connecticut. In 2017 Harmon was hired as a state policy fellow for the Washington D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, working with the Hope Policy Institute in Jackson, Mississippi to collect and analyze data on the civic consequences of economic and racial inequality.

She was hired as Deputy Director of Talent Development in the Birmingham Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity by Mayor Randall Woodfin in August 2018. In that role, she developed the Birmingham Promise Initiative, a public-private partnership to provide business apprenticeships and college scholarships to Birmingham City Schools students. She then served as the first executive director for the program from April 2020 until leaving in 2022 to attend Yale Law School.



  • D'Alessio, Jeff (November 24, 2014) "Uni High grad becomes only Illinoisan to earn prestigious honor." The News-Gazette
  • Stein, Jeff (November 24, 2014) "Cornell senior Rachel Harmon wins prestigious Rhodes Scholarship." The Ithaca Voice
  • Rebman, Stepanie (April 29, 2020) "Birmingham Promise names its inaugural director." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Mann, Joshua (November 3, 2021) "Rachel Harmon leaving Birmingham Promise for law school." Birmingham Business Journal

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