BOARD SPOTLIGHT: JESSICA PAYNE
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma with a 7-year stint in Chicago working in the financial sector as a Senior Marketing Manager for Wintrust. I now call St. Louis my home and am a practicing macro-level social worker. I currently work in a unique shared staff position between the federally designated St. Louis Promise Zone and Forward Through Ferguson, the nonprofit that was created to carry forward the calls to action from the Ferguson Commission Report that was completed after the killing of Mike Brown in August of 2014. My job is to align the goals and work of the Promise Zone with those calls to action to ensure all of our work is completed with a racial equity lens. In my spare time, I serve as Vice President of the Board for the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and help run a small farmers market. I am also partnering in the launch of Equitable St. Louis, a coalition of community organizations pushing for the creation of Community Benefits Agreements as a tool to drive equitable development within the region.
How did you get into your current line of work?
I jumped into social work and community development after realizing that I could use my skill sets in communications for more than just corporate marketing. In August of 2014, I left my full-time job to become an AmeriCorps VISTA in St. Louis for the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group. One year of service turned into a second as I also started classes for my Master of Social Work degree from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. My coursework specialized in social and economic development and I completed internships with the Grace Hill Settlement House and the St. Louis Metropolitan Equal Housing and Opportunity Council.
What are you most looking forward to as an ICA board member?
I am most looking forward to learning from my fellow board members and the incredibly talented staff at ICA. The wealth of knowledge and lived experience present in the room at any given time is astounding. The GreenRise Project has also been an incredible learning experience in social-purpose real estate development.
What is an interesting fact about you?
I spent two summers as a member of the colorguard for the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps based out of Denver. Basically, I rehearsed spinning flags and dancing all day, every day for three months as we traveled the country competing in evening shows with other drum corps. I’m practicing again to be part of a 60th Anniversary performance this July at Drums Along the Rockies.
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