• Fourth Economy

Get to Know Victoria Adams Phipps, Fourth Economy's Vice President of Engagements and Impact

Photo of Victoria Adams Phipps

In April 2021, Victoria Adams Phipps became Fourth Economy + Steer’s Vice President of Engagements and Impact. Victoria is based in New Orleans, and her ties to the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem are deep. Prior to joining Fourth Economy, she was Chief Strategy Officer for the New Orleans Business Alliance, and the International Economic Development Council named Victoria the Young Economic Development Professional of the Year in 2020 for her successful implementation of the city’s Gig Economy Relief Fund at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Equity and belonging are core, guiding values for Victoria, and are always at the forefront of her work helping communities build relationships and programs that increase prosperity for all.

We asked Victoria a few questions about her new role, how it builds on her past personal and professional experiences, and what she’s excited to accomplish at Fourth Economy. And, since Victoria is a musician and music lover, we also had to learn which of New Orleans’ many talented acts she urges us not to sleep on.

You are the Vice President of Engagements and Impact for Fourth Economy + Steer! What does that involve? What kind of things are you working on from day to day?

Thanks, I’m thrilled to be here! My role comprises three large areas of responsibility: project management, business development, and strategy creation. On a day-to-day basis, I’m collaborating with our team to advance work that will positively impact our clients and their communities. As a project manager, I’m continually seeking to deepen our insights and refine our offerings to match the needs of our clients. As a leader, I’m working diligently to identify new opportunities for growth for the company and for the numerous individuals who make up Fourth Economy. Large-scale presentations and group facilitation, proposal creation, strategy discussion, and team meetings all dance across my calendar on a daily basis.

In addition, I’m leading our firm’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) strategy. In this capacity, I am helping to diversify our team and to increase equity, inclusion, and sense of belonging at Fourth Economy and within our various scopes of work.

Before your role at the New Orleans Business Alliance, you spent eight formative years working at The Idea Village, a non-profit organization devoted to nurturing New Orleans’ entrepreneurial ecosystem. How did you contribute to, and observe, New Orleans becoming a more supportive place for new businesses?

New Orleans is an incredible place. It’s a city that has rich cultural legacy, centuries of history, and an inextricable sense of strength and resilience that has enabled the city to weather numerous real and proverbial storms. The experience of New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina led to my career in economic development. As a recent college graduate at the time, I experienced the power of people banding together to create change, driving widescale rebuilding and investment. Yet I also viewed the inequity and disparity that played out as communities were rebuilt. Historic dynamics between the haves and have-nots were deepened and many were left displaced. Entrepreneurship, however, proved to be a point of difference.

My time at The Idea Village and the New Orleans Business Alliance taught me about the power of entrepreneurship to transform communities. We worked with high-growth startups, established mature ventures, and microenterprises just starting out.

While we had many big success stories, I grew a deep appreciation for the small businesses, the family-owned restaurants and small corner shops, that have been a part of the fabric of a community for generations. These small businesses were the key to bringing neighborhoods back online and fostering belief in the future of our community.

Over time, I was able to develop programs, events, and initiatives that infused New Orleans with critical resources, driving direct investments into local companies of all sizes, leading to the creation of more local jobs and an increase in local wealth. From New Orleans Entrepreneur Week to

the Gig Economy Relief Fund, I worked hand-in-hand with members of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, local government, and our broader corporate and philanthropic communities. This connectivity was key. Together, we created impact that continues to reverberate today.

You are passionate about equity being a cornerstone value in economic development. What systemic or policy change do find yourself most consistently trying to advance, as you work to challenge and repair historic disparities?

Each community is different and, while there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, there is commonality around the type of approach needed to address historic disparities. I have found that many solutions to these deeply intractable challenges deal with access – access to capital, access to networks, and access to opportunity. This holds true whether we’re talking about entrepreneurship, workforce development, homeownership, education, or myriad other areas where inequity or disparity exist. But equally important is acknowledgement. In order to move into the future, there often needs to be an acknowledgement of the past. This acknowledgment creates space for understanding, so that solutions can be developed that are right-sized for that specific community.

My recommendations would be to intentionally include residents who have been harmed by inequity within your planning process; listen more than you speak; and, wherever possible, increase access. Enable all residents to participate, contribute, and access the benefits of your local economy.

What are you looking forward to accomplishing at Fourth Economy?

I’m looking forward to supporting communities of all shapes and sizes in advancing their local economies. I’m excited to leverage my experience in economic development, entrepreneurial ecosystem growth, cultural economy development, and nonprofit leadership to support our clients and the residents of their respective communities. Most of all, I’m excited to learn! There’s nothing I enjoy more than getting to know a new place and gaining appreciation for its culture, traditions, and the people who are proud to call that place home.

Music is a big part of your life—you are a trained musician as well as a music lover. Are there any up-and-coming acts in New Orleans that you wish more people knew about?

Too many! Tank and the Bangas, The Revivalists, and The Original Pinettes Brass Band are just a few. But the best way to experience New Orleans is to get out there and immerse yourself in the vibrancy of the culture. Catch a jazz trio at Bacchanal, let the music take over while listening to a brass band on Frenchmen Street, and if you’re so lucky to be in New Orleans during the Jazz & Heritage Festival, make sure your chair is planted in front of Trombone Shorty’s stage. You won’t regret it.

A night time street scene outside of a New Orleans jazz club
On Frenchmen Street in New Orleans. Photo: Kent Kanouse / flikr