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I'm Gretchen D. Barron.

“Gut, grit, and grind produce greatness.” One may believe those words are just an alliteration of attributes found in the latest self-help guide for success. For me, the words are an accurate illustration of my work and persistent push for community change. As a South  Carolina native, I have coined the phrase with the belief that everyone is gifted with the traits to be great, but with gut, grit, and grind, we maximize our potential and ability to transform lives.  I'm no stranger to adversity and overcoming feats that are deemed challenging. Since my youth, I embraced challenges and questioned systems, leading to my adulthood passion for societal change, educational engagement, and advocacy. 

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My Story

The drive to educate and inspire others is at the core of Gretchen’s being. For nearly 25 years,  she worked to be the change she dreamed of seeing in the educational realm. She’s served at state and local agencies in roles such as Educator for Richland School District 2, Interim State Administrator for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program for the SC  Department of Education, the Assistant Director of Program Development and Grants for the SC  Department of Juvenile Justice and Consultant for the US Department of Education, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. With a belief in serving through innovative action, Barron was instrumental in developing several programs and initiatives, such as the SC Department of Juvenile Justice Teen After-School Centers and the JEEP Program. These after-school programs drove churches and community centers to provide structured,  comprehensive student care. Thus, leading to a more streamlined system of communication between parents and providers and a more robust system of service coordination for at-risk youth and families. It was not long before Gretchen birthed her own brain baby.  

In 2005, Barron Academy was created to provide more after-school programs to students attending low-performing schools in high-poverty areas. Like any brainchild, growth was inevitable. While Gretchen envisioned expansion, they were overwhelmed with the rate of success of Barron Academy. Under her leadership and vision, the school went from 12 students in their first year to now serving hundreds annually from around the Midlands region.  With a reputation for quality, compassionate, and empathic care for students, Barron Academy has earned its esteem as a premier place for young learners to excel. Though it remains a beacon of pride for the Barron family, its inception was not the last time the couple merged their fervor for strategy and development for a new endeavor.  

Currently, she owns and operates GBarron Consulting, LLC. For years, Gretchen witnessed organizations struggle to execute their vision and live up to the promises engraved in their mission statements. She knew that there was a lack of quality training and coaching for organizations and wanted, once more- to bridge the gap. The Consulting firm specializes in moving organizations from a stagnant state of static to clarity and achieving attainable goals. With a practical and personable approach to communicating with their clients, Gretchen enjoys watching leaders and organizations evolve from despair to maximizing their potential.  


With a strong belief that faith without work is ineffective, Gretchen is a servant of the Lord and her community. With a love for service that serves as the guiding force in her life, she has a history of dedicating her time and voice to individuals and populations who are often marginalized and feel voiceless. She has served as a Junior League of Columbia member, Board Chair for the Compass Community Development Corporation, Richland County School District One’s Title One Planning Committee, and Minister and Lead Teacher for Kids Town. She is also a seventeen-year devoted member of Right Direction Church International.  

In November 2020, Gretchen was elected to Richland County Council District 7. While in office, she has worked to rebuild the trust of the citizens of Richland by focusing on moving the county forward and aligning county resources to foster a vibrant economy that addresses the needs of our citizens. We’ve accomplished so much in these past four years, from navigating through COVID-19 to approving a class and compensation restructuring for regular full-time county employees that implemented salary increases aligned with the county's strategic goal to establish competitive salaries to maintain better essential services and programs that benefit residents to approving full-time and part-time employees to receive paid parental leave to implement a new residential property registration program to ultimately reduce light and unsafe, living conditions in unincorporated areas of the county. The ordinance requires residential landlords to register a property through the county's business service center. Landlords who own and rent more than one residential unit, including duplexes.  Also, they must now register those properties to obtain a business license. With the charges, the county aims to improve the quality of life of the residents and provide greater health and safety protection for renters to convening the first The State of the Penny, which provided a brief history of the penny program and highlighted current and completed projects,  as well as the positive impact the  $1.7 billion generated by the program has had on roadways pedestrian, improvements, greenways, and public transportation since it's inception and we still have a lot more to accomplish.  


Though she wears many hats, Gretchen wears one most proudly—being a mom to the people she affectionately refers to as her “Barron Boys.” Her two sons, James Lionel, II. and Hilton Chase, collectively make up what she calls her “purpose.” When she is not moving between her various roles, you will find Gretchen cheering for her alma mater, the Carolina Gamecocks, whenever they are playing.  

When calculating the formula that ignites the powerhouse, Gretchen Barron, make sure to remember—Grit. Grind. Guts. Produces Greatness.

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