Meet Jessica! Member Services & Programs Manager
Your Role: In your own words, how would you describe the work you do at CEF and why is it important?
I am the Members Services and Programs Manager for both the Chapel Hill and Durham Offices. In my role, I support program staff, guide program strategy, and manage reporting for Member services and Advocate programs. Overall, I support and work collaboratively with staff, Advocates, and Members to promote learning and growth.
Your Background: What experiences, strengths, and skills do you bring to work at CEF?
Prior to joining CEF, I was a coordinator and advocate with a domestic violence agency. In that role, I worked in crisis and self-sufficiency services, outreach and to increase awareness and advocacy for healthy relationships. I also focused on developing and promoting culturally affirming best practices when working with Black and Brown survivors of domestic violence. In addition to advocacy and crisis services experience, I also have experience in community-based participatory research specifically focusing on access to healthy food, affordable housing, mental health care, and quality education. One of my strengths is my ability to build and maintain relationships and work collaboratively with diverse community stakeholders. I am interested in co-creating thriving communities so that we aren’t just surviving or putting a bandaid on the issues we face.
Connecting to CEF: What led you to work with CEF generally, and also in this particular role?
CEF’s leadership, commitment to community, racial equity, and economic justice focus were driving forces that led me to work with CEF. CEF’s focus on relationship building and providing services no matter where Members are on their financial or life journey was also appealing. While crisis services are important, we also have to work collaboratively as a community to think about services that foster long-term sustainability.
Energy: Where do you find energy and renewal?
I find energy in knowing that we are working together to build and maintain thriving communities. I also find energy and renewal by growing and maintaining authentic and genuine relationships with community members.
Challenge: What are the biggest challenges in your work and how do you seek to find the best way forward?
One major challenge that we face as a community is all of the isms. Racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, colorism, classism, and other forms of discrimination are still very much alive and well. We can’t ignore discrimination and oppression and the sinister ways that it shows up in everyday life. The legacy of white supremacy in nonprofit organizations is also a challenge that we actively work to dissolve. Another challenge is the rising costs of living and the impact on folks’ everyday lives and experiences.
The best way forward is to acknowledge these challenges and how they show up in systems and our lives. Once we acknowledge these challenges we must also work to take action each and every day.
Anything Else You Would Like To Add:
I’m really excited and grateful to be a part of the CEF team. I look forward to our collaboration and radical work.