Alumna Appointed N.C. State Auditor

Former Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes ’06 (’09 JD) was appointed state auditor by Gov. Roy Cooper ’79 (’82 JD) on Nov. 30. She replaces Beth Wood beginning Dec. 15 and will serve through the end of 2024.

Holmes will be the first Black woman to serve on the N.C. Council of State, a group of the state’s 10 elected executive offices. Holmes said she plans to run for election to the position in 2024.

Holmes, deputy commissioner with the N.C. Industrial Commission, is a lawyer who focuses on labor and employment law. She was elected to the Wake County Board of Commissioners in 2014 at age 30, becoming the youngest person ever elected to the board. She became board chair in 2017 and served until 2020, working on improving education and affordable housing, among other issues. She will resign her position with the N.C. Industrial Commission to become auditor.

John Wilson ’71 (MEd), a former executive director of the National Education Association, told the Review in 2019 that Holmes “is at the top of the heap for next-generation leaders in North Carolina and the nation. Jessica has been the strongest voice for public school funding and affordable housing and has led that fight in a very real way. She just goes and does stuff. If she sees a problem, she goes full force at solving it.” (See “Making a Marriage Work,” January/February 2019 Review.)

The General Alumni Association gave Holmes a Distinguished Young Alumni award in 2018.

Holmes will replace Wood, who crashed her state-assigned vehicle into another car after leaving a holiday party last December. She plead guilty to misdemeanor hit and run and said she would not resign and planned to run for reelection. However, last month a grand jury indicted her for misusing her state-owned vehicle, and Wood announced her resignation.

The state auditor acts as a watchdog, overseeing the spending on government programs and checking that officials follow state and federal regulations. Cooper said he searched for a state auditor who understands government and the need for accountability. “Jessica understands how government can be a force for good but that the details matter, and it’s important that we do things the right way,” Cooper said during a press conference announcing Holmes’ appointment. “I’m confident that, thanks to her intelligence, integrity and experience, she will make major contributions to the success of our state.”

Holmes said her administration will focus on accountability and “eliminating wasteful spending and ensuring that all money allocated goes where it’s supposed to go.”

Outside of government work, Holmes has served on the board of A Helping Hand, a nonprofit that assists the elderly and disabled, and is a board member of the N.C. Foundation for Public School Children.

— Cameron Hayes Fardy ’23

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