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Durham Needs a Living Wage

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The mission of the Durham Living Wage Project is to support worker livelihoods by urging employers to pay living wages, certifying and publicly recognizing employers, and promoting living wages as a matter of conscience within our community.


We envision Durham as a livable community where all workers can prosper.


We exist to promote a just economy where workers are paid fairly, employers are successful, and our community thrives as a result.

Guiding Principles

We believe that a just economy provides:

  • Jobs with dignity and living wages
  • Economic prosperity for individuals, enterprises and communities
  • Equal opportunity and justice for all people who have been marginalized in our society, with a particular focus on race, class and gender equity

We believe that we can help bring about a more just economy by promoting living wages and by collaborating with partner organizations that seek to:

  • Reduce barriers to employment
  • Place marginalized workers in living wage jobs
  • Provide workers with a broader set of employment benefits and protections

Steering Committee

The Durham Living Wage Project is guided by a Steering Committee comprised of employers, employees, and community members committed to a just and sustainable local economy.

  • Ashley Ascott Ahlers: Ashley is the Director of Development at the Compass Center for Women and Families.
  • Kate Fellman: Kate currently serves as the Program Director of the PA Fund. Prior to this role, Kate worked for 4 years as the PA Coordinator.  Kate has a passion for civic engagement and making voting an integral part of people’s lives to help empower underrepresented communities.
  • Kevin Griffin: Kevin is the President and CEO of AVANT Group, LLC,  a full service staffing and recruiting firm that is also a 3rd party certified sustainable company (B-Corp).  The AVANT focus is matching the right candidates with the right positions, at the right times.  Paying a living wage is a key component of a good career opportunity, and Mr. Griffin’s role is to present that fact to the business community, and to advocate for all companies to raise their standards of pay.
  • Sami Grover: Sami is Creative Director and Co-Owner of The Change Creation, a brand strategy and design agency with an agenda to make the world greener, fairer, truer, and longer lasting.
  • Matt Kopac: Matt’s experience blends business, policy and social/environmental justice. As the Social & Environmental Responsibility Manager at Burt’s Bees and Vice-President of The Burt’s Bees Foundation, Matt focuses on responsible sourcing, sustainable packaging, environmental footprint management and community outreach. 
  • Candace Rashada: While Candace works as a Program Coordinator at Durham Technical Community College Division of Corporate and Continuing Education, she serves as a community advocate for youth and adults in transition from homelessness, incarceration and abuse. She believes that education and living wages are the cornerstones of stability that transform lives.
  • Carl Rist: Carl has spent over 20 years at the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) and is currently the Director of Children's Savings and Senior Advisor, Asset Building.  Carl is also an active community volunteer and serves on the boards of the Durham People's Alliance, the Self-Help Federal Credit Union and NC Child.
  • Brian Schneiderman: Brian is Director of Commercial Lending at Self-Help.
  • Michael Young: Michael is the National Field Director at United for a Fair Economy, which raises awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart. Michael has recently returned to Durham, where he grew up, and is excited to participate with the DLWP, working to forge a more just and fair local economy.

This Project’s existence is owed to many, many volunteer hours and the steadfast support and generous contributions from the following businesses, organizations, and artists:

  • The PA Fund
  • Cocoa Cinnamon
  • Monuts Donuts
  • Self-Help
  • Center for Documentary Studies
  • Durham Congregations in Action
  • Durham CAN
  • First Presbyterian Church
  • KLP Designs
  • Leslie Cunningham Films
  • Just Economics
  • NC Justice Center

The Durham Living Project is an endeavor of The People’s Alliance Fund. The DLWP officially launched in early 2015.