Erica D. Atwood, CEO
Erica Atwood comes with a disclaimer: she tells the truth from a place of love.
Toni Morrison once implored, "As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think." Erica Atwood—mentor, coach, people lover, problem solver and troublemaker—centers her work around this principle.
Erica was created amidst a supportive village in Camden, New Jersey where she was guided by her mother and positive black imagery was centered. She owes the magic of her approach to the lessons she learned under their collective love. Love fuels the engine that drives how she gets the people and organizations she works with to dream before they lead.
Erica engages everyone in her own village of clients and friends from a profound place of truth, told from a place of love.
Such a mantra has allowed Erica to build community wherever she goes; inspiring people and organizations to consider ways to elevate not only their own voices, but others around them. Erica lives as she works, approaching her work with the same focus on self-care, problem solving, coaching and compassion that she dispenses to friends and family. Her aim is to help organizations and individuals see how to take care of themselves and each other.
Erica’s proof is in her partnerships, which range from the boutique grassroots non-profit to Mayor’s offices, national foundations to organizations. Her imprint can be found in a history of engagements and initiatives that include the arts, racial and social justice, community revitalization and youth leadership.
Constantly engaged with the wider world around her, Erica’s voice can be found on youth and community engagement panels, convening the community via TedTalks and focus groups. Through it all, she closes the distance between hurt and healing, identifying ways to acknowledge where situations exist or persist and where there are new solutions to be found.
Erica has two decades of experience in communications, project management, community outreach, policy-making, and advocacy. She is an experienced public speaker, trained mediator, and an innovative facilitator. She is currently the CEO of First Degree Consulting, LLC. Erica has served as the interim executive director of the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission which is the city's police civilian oversight board. She was the first Director of Black Male Engagement for the City of Philadelphia. She has also led External Affairs & Community Engagement for the Mayor’s Office and was Deputy City Representative serving as a protocol officer and overseeing management of special projects.
In 2008, Erica was named one of the 101 Emerging Connectors by Leadership Philadelphia, is a 2014 Drexel University Leading for Change Fellow, a member of the Annie E. Casey Foundation Applied Leadership Network for Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (ALN-JDAI), and serves on a number of boards and commussions.
A long-time resident of West Philadelphia, if she’s not actively out saving the world one conversation at a time, Erica can be found doing any assortment of the things she loves: enjoying the company of friends, lounging with her cats or scouring streaming services for the best anime.
You need only listen for Erica’s vibrant laughter and follow the trail to wherever she’s inspiring someone nearby to dream a little more before they think.