Erica Atwood

Senior Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives, Office of Criminal Justice and Public Safety

City of Philadelphia

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.

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 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. Constantly engaged with the wider world around her, Erica’s voice can be found on youth and community engagement panels, convening the community via TED Talks 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.

In 2016, Erica founded First Degree Consulting, LLC, to provide services to local governments, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and the philanthropic sector, helping clients create more equitable communities. 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 and community engagement for the Mayor’s Office and was deputy city representative, serving as a protocol officer and overseeing the management of special projects.

As the senior director of policy and strategic initiatives in the Office of Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Erica works to help stem the tide of violence in our neighborhoods, strengthen community connections, clear the path to a better life for our family members returning from incarceration, and continue to make sustainable reforms to the criminal justice system.