Jenna Barnes

Director, Early Childhood


As Director, Early Childhood, Jenna leads the Foundation’s focus on early childhood which works to ensure every young child from birth to age five in North Carolina has the opportunity and resources to be healthy and well-prepared for success in school, work, and life.

Jenna joined the Blue Cross NC Foundation in 2024, bringing over a decade of experience in early childhood. Prior to joining the Foundation, she led MDC’s early childhood portfolio focused on partnering with philanthropy and community to advance equitable systems change for North Carolina’s children, families, and early education workforce. She also worked at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC Chapel-Hill on a cross-sector initiative to scale up Triple P across the Carolinas. Jenna brings expertise in systems capacity building, implementation science, partnership cultivation, and facilitating learning communities. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from University of Kentucky and a M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology from University of Louisville.

What I love about my work:
I love having the opportunity to partner with and learn from so many amazing leaders (formal and informal) to advance equitable change in our state that addresses the root causes of the challenges our communities are facing.

When not at my desk:
You can find me practicing yoga, exploring NC’s state parks and trails, and spending time with my husband and daughter.

Favorite thing about North Carolina:
As an outdoor enthusiast, I love having proximity to both the mountains and the coast.