This summer I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with and learn from Joanna, the senior program and operational director at ProsperUs.
After college, Joanna first started to work at Detroit regional chamber. Coming from a small town, Joanna was looking forward to in-depth community involvement. Yet, the regional chamber oversees 11 counties and was mainly focused on bigger corporations. Although she enjoyed and learned a lot from her time at the chamber, she craved to be more connected to the community. She began to volunteer with Detroit Soup during her free time and became more involved as she created a Neighborhood Soup project in East Jefferson, Detroit. Because Soup’s focus on the neighborhood better aligned with her interest and value, Joanna decided to take the offer to work full time at Soup. She led the neighborhood program and built an extensive social network during her time at Soup, but, as funding became difficult in 2016, she moved to the next step in her career: ProsperUs. Joanna was attracted by ProsperUs’s idea of helping the community from the community and joined as a program manager. She enjoyed her time at ProsperUs, but the timing wasn’t the best for her. In 2018, she transited to TechTown and became the Entrepreuer training program manager. She realized in her work that helping people to work in a more pleasant way brings the biggest joy to her, and this passion drove her to create the new department of social innovation at TechTown. Her work at TechTown was fulfilling, but, learning that ProsperUs has welcomed Chanell as the executive director, she wanted to return. Chanell is one of the first Black female leaders in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), and working with Chanell aligns with Joanna’s personal desire to support women of color leaders.
Joanna has been with ProsperUs since then. She truly believes in the work of ProsperUs, and her passion for supporting people and uplifting the community has kept her going even in difficult times. Her neighbors, friends, and family are also her source of pride and motivation. She does not want her kids or any other Detroiters to feel the city is lacking something– she believes in Detroit and with all Detroiterstogether they can build a stronger community.