Tracy Zimmerman

Vice President, Policy and Communications, Neimand Collaborative

Tracy is a nationally recognized leader working at the nexus of policy, advocacy and communications who has made measurable impact working in and outside of government at the state and national levels.

As Deputy Secretary for Policy and Communications at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Tracy led North Carolina’s communications and public outreach in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including more than 150 press briefings; the award-winning Whatever Your Reason, Get Behind the Mask campaign; and a research-informed public engagement strategy to promote vaccination with a focus on historically marginalized populations. The state eliminated the vaccination gap between the Latino and white population; significantly narrowed the gap between the Black and white population; and had the lowest per capita death rate in the southeast and among the lowest in the nation. Tracy was recognized by Governor Roy Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen for exemplary service, exceptional leadership, outstanding achievements and relentless commitment to excellence during the pandemic response.

Prior to her work at NCDHHS, Tracy created the First 2000 Days, a campaign adopted by several states. It is credited with building bipartisan support and shifting the conversation from “Why early childhood?” to “What should we do?”

Tracy co-founded the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. While there, she built a statewide Pathways to Grade Level Reading framework, facilitating a multi-year effort with people across sectors, disciplines, and the political aisle to develop shared measures and strategies to support children’s optimal development. The framework was included in legislation; endorsed by business leaders, government agencies and nonprofit organizations; and helped drive aligned action across the state.

Recognizing that family friendly workplaces improve children’s health and well-being and keep businesses competitive; Tracy led the creation of Family Forward NC. Family Forward NC is employer-led change to increase access to research-based, family-friendly practices that improve workplace productivity, recruitment and retention; grow a strong economy; and support children’s healthy development.

Over her career, Tracy has worked for and on behalf of numerous public interest organizations including Planned Parenthood of Maryland, the National Cooperative Bank, Education Commission of the States, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and many others. Her award-winning work has been featured on magazine covers, as case studies in college courses and in articles sharing best practices.

Tracy is a diehard optimist who believes that with authentic listening, excellent strategy and effective messaging, we can make positive change that gives everyone the opportunity to live a life with purpose. Her career has been dedicated to bringing this belief to fruition.