LaChaun Banks is the Associate Director with the Ash Center's Innovations in Government Program, where she leads initiatives in inclusive and equitable governance.
Before joining the Harvard Kennedy School, Banks led a multi-state program focused on economic inclusion and development based at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. As Associate Director of NCGrowth, she worked with public, private, and philanthropic leaders in economically distressed communities across North Carolina and South Carolina, to strengthen their economies. Within 5 years Banks tripled the program’s capacity to take on new communities as clients, while creating new tools and measurements of impact. To scale this work, Banks assembled, coordinated, and managed a network of advanced undergraduate and graduate level students from multiple universities charged with critical analyses and specialized research to support these under-resourced government clients. With expansion of the program, she created and facilitated a statewide advisory board composed of expert leaders and university faculty to further expand its reach. To support the program, she was responsible for managing multimillion-dollar budgets comprised of federal, state and philanthropic investments. During her tenure, Banks doubled the program’s initial funding, ultimately creating two signature initiatives focused on entrepreneurial and economic development in rural communities.
In addition to her extensive background working in equitable economic development, LaChaun has broad business experience. She possesses over a decade of experience in human resources, customer relations, advanced business planning, and business operations including time as a commercialization manager for a domestic aerospace company and a consultant for internationally-based high-growth technology start-ups (Copenhagen, Denmark). LaChaun earned a BA in International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a concentration in global economics, trade, and development. She later earned her MBA from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. In addition, LaChaun studied at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, studying Asian business and management, and Chinese government and politics. Banks is a frequent guest lecturer, ensuring that her research and practitioner work are shared throughout the academic community. She has guest lectured at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, Harvard’s Kennedy School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, among others.