Guilford County government has hired a director for the county’s newly formed Minority and Business Women Enterprise (MWBE) Department, which is meant to boost the percentage of county dollars spent with minority- and female-owned businesses.

A source in Guilford County government familiar with the director search and hiring process said the county has named Cynthia Barnes-Phipps as the new director. She has previously been heading up MWBE efforts for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG).

Barnes-Phipps’ selection was made following a widespread search after the position was created by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners in the 2018-2019 budget.

Barnes-Phipps’ title at UNCG was “facility engineering specialist, historically underutilized business (HUB) coordinator.” She was awarded the 2016 MWBE Advocate Award, which was given in recognition of her dedication to, and success in promoting and advocating for, minority and women-owned businesses.

A graduate of North Carolina A&T University, she has worked at UNCG for over two decades.

Guilford County has been struggling for years to get its MWBE numbers up.

Barnes-Phipps’ hiring adds some diversity to the top ranks of Guilford County government since she’s a black female and the county has had few black women as department heads.

Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston said he’s very pleased with the new hire.

“I think we got the best person out there – 100 percent,” he said without naming Barnes-Phipps.

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the creation of the new MWBE position for Guilford County government in June after Alston, Coleman and others argued that the county needed a director who would focus entirely on increasing the number of minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) that do business with Guilford County. That addition of a new county MWBE director was one of the major reasons there was a unanimous vote for that $616-million budget with the board’s three black commissioners voting yes.