Elizabeth McCain

Elizabeth McCain Irwin

Chief Operating Officer

Elizabeth (she/her) focuses on guiding Second Breath strategically, both internally via operations and systems, and externally via products and analysis. She also serves as an honorary member of the content team, just for fun.

Elizabeth first connected with Second Breath in her early 20s while her husband, John Wilson, was a post-grad at UNC-Greensboro, and they both decided to take a Second Breath course (then known as the Servant Leadership School). After studying history and creative writing in college, Elizabeth worked for several nonprofit organizations, and valued being a student of the communities she was serving, but also desired to learn how to bring such good work to scale.

In pursuit of this knowledge, she earned an MBA and then went to work for several years at Amazon, serving first in Core Operations for the delivery of XL shipments, and then as Manager for Associate Experience and Chief of Staff for the Career Choice program. At Amazon, Elizabeth learned a great deal about large scale business operations, but maintained a pull toward scaling something she really loved. She and her husband decided to return to the South to be near family, and Elizabeth reached out to Second Breath. This led first to contract work and ultimately her full time executive leadership role.

Elizabeth lives with her husband and her children, Blythe and Henry in Durham, and enjoys spending time outdoors and with her family and friends. As far as Second Breath, she particularly appreciates the organization’s commitment to embodying the values it espouses in the way it operates. She says, “I think that the practices themselves and having them a part of our culture makes us more open to new ideas, more willing to question items that may have been held dear otherwise, and an enthusiasm for recognizing the gifts and talents of those we encounter. It creates a culture of abundance…recognizing that we are working together on something much greater…imagine if that could be in more settings in the world!” Her personal favorite practice is The Examen, which she likes to do at the end of the day.