News from ioby’s CEO Erin Barnes

I’m excited to share some news with everyone in the ioby community:  Next year, I plan to step down from my role as CEO and into a founder-in-residence role. When I shared my decision with the Board and the Senior Management Team a few months ago, I made a commitment to support a process and a timeline that centers equity and inclusion. Together we decided that the best time for me to transition into my new role at ioby would be late summer of 2023, about a year from now. 

Erin Barnes ioby CEO
Courtesy of The Obama Foundation

I’m deeply proud of what we’ve built together over the past 15 years. ioby began as a small idea to build political will for climate action by engaging real people in real places. The core concept was to center residents, who are often overlooked and underfunded despite their deep understanding of their own neighborhoods. And listening to and trusting residents has remained our main guiding principle as we’ve grown.

Little by little, step by step, one person at a time, deep listening has allowed our little idea to grow and evolve. An NYC pilot. A funding platform. Fiscal sponsorship. An expansion from a focus on just “environmental” projects to all positive change projects at the neighborhood level. City partnerships. National expansion. Researching civic capacity of places for deeper partnerships. Match programs. Flexing our services to be responsive to community needs during the overlapping crises of the past few years. 

I’m proud that these years of listening has allowed us, as an organization, to understand deeply and build our services around the unique needs of small, grassroots, movement-building organizations that often struggle to find funding and support elsewhere. 

Today, what ioby is and what ioby can do is far more powerful than my co-founders and I ever dreamed possible. We imagined ioby could help make positive change on a block level, like the community gardens and murals that are a bright point in so many of our neighborhoods. But the ripples from these individual projects are—I believe—fostering something bigger. We’ve seen an ioby-funded community composting pilot get adopted by city government; resident-led street improvements have become safer road redesigns; public health projects have resulted in real outcomes at the population scale; racial justice projects have tipped the scales (and monuments), and on and on. 

As I prepare for my next role, I feel confident in, and comforted by, my belief that this movement of resident-led change will continue to grow. Because at the soul of ioby are the people who lead positive change in their neighborhoods. These are an impressive, tireless group of nearly 4,000 and growing, who have decided to step into civic life, and whose passion and talent inspires and fuels me every day. Their work is critical to creating a healthy multiracial democracy, and they are critical to creating joyful communities for us all. I can’t wait to watch this movement grow.

I’m not going anywhere for awhile, so you’ll still be hearing from me and from our fantastic Board leadership and staff throughout this transition. And I’ll continue to be close to the organization in my founder-in-residence role. 

None of this would be possible without all of you, and the love and support that you give to ioby in so many ways. I am so grateful to all of you for this. Thank you for helping us create this beautiful community together. You’ve been an important part of ioby’s history, and I am so grateful to you for being a part of our future.

With immense gratitude, 

Erin Barnes

CEO & Co-Founder, ioby