By Sherri Kolade
Published: March 9, 2021
Urban Alliance, a national youth workforce development organization, announced the appointment of Elizabeth Lindsey (outgoing CEO of Byte Back) as the nonprofit’s incoming CEO, according to a press release. As CEO, Lindsey will organize Urban Alliance’s mission to build a more equitable next-generation workforce by providing critical work experience, skills training, and networks to youth with traditionally reduced access to these foundations of economic advancement.
“Urban Alliance is thrilled to welcome Elizabeth Lindsey as our new CEO,” said Mary Menell Zients, board chair and co-founder of Urban Alliance, in a press release. “Elizabeth is a highly-regarded, passionate, and energetic leader whose deep commitment to and experience in expanding workforce opportunities for those with historically reduced access makes her ideal to lead Urban Alliance into its next chapter.”
Lindsey brings nearly 20 years of nonprofit and government experience in empowering individuals and communities to create dynamic impact, most recently as CEO of the Washington D.C.-based organization Byte Back. Under her stewardship, Byte Back grew its inclusive tech training to Baltimore and built a profile that’s caught the eye of the nation. Previously, as CEO of Groundswell, Lindsey oversaw the organization’s evolution from a community nonprofit into a nationally reputable social enterprise, according to a press release.
Her profound skills and leadership have garnered national and regional recognition, including as one of The Root’s ‘100 Most Influential African Americans of 2019.’ Lindsey officially assumes the role of CEO on April 12, 2021, succeeding Eshauna Smith, who led the organization for seven years, including throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the release added.
Urban Alliance’s signature High School Internship Program closes the loop for high school seniors from under-resourced communities in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and the greater Washington, DC region to upwardly-mobile career pathways through paid professional internships; job skills training; one-on-one mentoring; and college and career planning guidance. In recent years through programs including the Obama Youth Jobs Corps in partnership with the Obama Foundation, Urban Alliance has grown its direct service work to reach students earlier in their high school experience and provide additional post-secondary pathways to economic mobility.
Statistically speaking, 99% of Urban Alliance students are youth of color from low-income communities, and 80% of Urban Alliance students contribute a portion of their paycheck toward household expenses, serving as vital sources of income for their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has also disproportionately affected young people of color, with unemployment and disconnection rates far exceeding any other age group. Research has shown that early, paid work experience and well-designed workforce development are correlated with higher wages, faster job attainment, higher-quality jobs, and racial equity.
With 25 years of experience, Urban Alliance has a deep-rooted track record of success. By the numbers, 100% of Urban Alliance students graduate from high school, 90% enroll in college, 80% persist to a second year, and 80% remain connected to a pathway toward economic self-sufficiency, the press release added.
“As a first-generation college student, I understand the value of connecting to economically-mobile pathways early, and have spent my career working to ensure that others have access to the same types of opportunities I have had,” Lindsey said in the release. “I have long admired Urban Alliance’s work to develop young talent and connect youth to lifelong economic self-sufficiency. I’m excited to lead such a talented team dedicated to building better futures for all youth and to continue this critical work – especially now as youth are looking toward a more uncertain future than ever before.”