Though she was introduced to the community during CharlotteRising’s Jan. 17 general meeting, Lisa Barna didn’t officially take over as the local organization’s executive director until Monday, Jan. 28. The CharlotteRising Board of Directors met with her Monday morning to make sure she hit the ground running.

Barna, who said Monday she is eager to establish relationships with local leaders, business owners and community members, is the former Director of Economic and Workforce Development for Arenac County, which is located an hour north of Saginaw. In that capacity, she worked with the many different cities and municipalities to make sure their economic and workforce development needs were met.

“I’m excited to bring all of those experience and skills here to CharlotteRising,” Barna told the large gathering during CharlotteRising’s Jan. 17 meeting. “I think the skills that I have will marry really well with what you guys are doing. There is so much good and positive momentum here already, I just want to be able to continue that and make sure Charlotte keeps going forward.”

CharlotteRising board chair, Joe E. Pray, said the board had a difficult task in finding former executive director Dillon Rush’s replacement, though Barna rose to the top of a long list of qualified candidates. 

“We had a number of candidates that fit the general idea of what we needed,” Pray said of the 13 individuals that applied for the position. “There were a couple that really stood out because of their experience. In the end it came down to Lisa.”

CharlotteRising Board member, Barbara Fulton, who served on the board’s hiring committee, said she is excited at the many qualities Barna brings to the position.

“Our board was fortunate to hire Lisa Barna,” Fulton said. “She is a professional who brings a young, creative perspective combined with concentrated work experience in exactly the areas CharlotteRising needs at this time.  Lisa has been successful with her extensive work in economic development and volunteer engagement.  She displays both vibrant enthusiasm and a focus on clear short- and long-term goals.  The future looks bright for CharlotteRising.”

In addition to meeting with a number of community members, and business owners over the course of the next month, Barna will be meeting with the chairs of CharlotteRising’s Action Teams — Economic Vitality, Organization, Promotions, and Design — to see where each stands with current projects. Much of her early focus will be building the organization’s volunteer base.

Barna will be working out of the CharlotteRising office, located at 114 E. Lawrence Avenue, across from City Hall. For more information about CharlotteRising, visit, or contact Barna at (989) 217-1950.