Jess-Mara Jones bio

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Jess-Mara Jones bio
jess-mara@suwn.org Charlotte

Get to Know Jess-Mara
What has your mentor taught you?
"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel." - Maya Angelou

Selena Hilemon was my first full-time supervisor right out of college when I was an AmeriCorps VISTA in the Key Center for Community Engaged Learning at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. That was almost a decade ago now, and while I've had many amazing supervisors and mentors since, she was still the first who came to mind because of how much confidence she instilled in me so early in my career. Selena chose to believe in me, in my potential and abilities from the very beginning. She nudged me out of my comfort zone and gave me leadership opportunities I felt less than prepared for whenever possible. She was invested in my professional development and not just in how it could benefit me for the current job I was doing but how it could contribute to my growth as a whole. At the time I was an AmeriCorps VISTA, I was at a crossroads about my next steps. Selena's influence and leadership were a huge part of my decision to dedicate myself to a career in service.

Which Step Up value resonates most with you?
The Step Up value that resonates with me the most is Respectful Relationships. I'm big on relationship building and feel that respect is imperative for a relationship to thrive. Respect fosters understanding, trust, and compassion, allowing for authentic and transformational work to be done together.

What do you enjoy most about working at Step Up?
What drew me to Step Up was the idea of mentorship through women supporting, encouraging, and pouring into young women. While I value what I learned in college and graduate school, my mentors, their influence, and the opportunities I was encouraged to take are what I attribute my growth to. I consider it an honor to take part in creating those spaces and opportunities for our girls.

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