Cultivating Leadership Skills Through Positive Social Change

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I met JoAnn, a Bachelor of Science in Child Development student, during her one-on-one Career Services appointment.  JoAnn made a commitment to positive social change through extensive volunteer work. These are the actions JoAnn took to support her community and build new skills through volunteering.

She Saw the Need:

JoAnn first noticed the depth of the needs in her Chicago Southside neighborhood when she conducted door-to-door community outreach for her faith-based organization. Also, for an entire year, JoAnn worked with ex-offenders and wanted to do more to make a positive impact. These experiences sparked her passion and dedication to focus her energy on improving the lives of families and children.

She Became a Board Member:

She started her volunteer journey as a member of the Board of Directors at her son’s daycare center where she honed her leadership skills as she served in the positions of Secretary, Treasurer, and President. As a member of the Board, she was instrumental in increasing federal funding not only for her son’s daycare center but for 19 other daycare sites. The increased funding expanded access to high-quality, affordable childcare for low-income families.  To ensure continued federal funding, she guided staff and the Board of Directors on steps to carefully follow federal compliance requirements.

She Cultivated Her Leadership Skills:

When her son entered elementary school, she joined the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) where she took on a leadership role as Secretary. As a PTA board member, she contributed to planning field trips for the children and educational opportunities for parents to better understand issues related to child development. She also became involved in school fundraising events.  By reaching out to local businesses to advocate for increased funding, the school received funds to establish student scholarships and a grant to improve the school’s kitchen capacity. JoAnn’s reputation as an influential PTA board member who could deliver results led to being selected as a PTA Cluster Coordinator. As a Cluster Coordinator, she represented and advocated for ten schools before the County School Board and became involved in budgeting and capital improvement planning.

She Expanded Her Reach:

Throughout her volunteer work, JoAnn developed relationships with other engaged community members. These connections led to her involvement in  The Black Star Project, the African American Student Achievement Advisory Group established by the Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships and the NAACP where she volunteers as a mentor, community advocacy trainer, and motivational speaker to close the “racial academic achievement gap.”

She Started Her Own Nonprofit:

To further support her community, JoAnn decided to start her own nonprofit, Jeanette’s Joy, where she builds community through the arts and provides educational and social services to enhance the development and well-being of elementary and middle school children.

JoAnn’s commitment and courage to take on expanding responsibilities as a volunteer gave her the opportunity to impact her community and develop skills in the areas of:

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Public Speaking and Advocacy
  • Organization
  • Negotiation
  • Project Management
  • Planning
  • Budgeting
  • Collaboration
  • Problem Solving

We thank JoAnn for sharing her story and wish her success in her academic program, volunteer work, and career.

Are you ready to contribute to positive social change and build new skills through volunteering? Explore these resources on the Career Services website:

Search for volunteer opportunities including virtual volunteer opportunities

Watch the Social Change Series of archived webinars

Written by Denise Pranke, Senior Career Services Advisor

Webinar setup photo Denise

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