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The Next Generation: A Farewell and Thank You from Executive Director Jennie Johnson

It is with deep and bittersweet gratitude that I will be stepping down as Executive Director of City Year Providence effective March 3, 2023. While I am excited to take on a new role in education as the Vice President of Workforce Partnerships at my alma mater, the Community College of Rhode Island, the people and mission of City Year will remain a permanent and cherished part of my life.

It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve this organization in doing important work in supporting the growth and success of the AMAZING students of Providence and the development of the close to one thousand AmeriCorps members who have come through City Year Providence over the past 16 years. Watching many of those members continue to have a transformative impact on this city and state is even more fulfilling.

I have always said that my job is to ensure the work can continue and then get out of the way and let young people lead. To this day, I believe that to be true. But sixteen years is a long time. And though I will remain deeply committed to education and students through my new role, it is also time for a new generation of leadership for City Year Providence. When I started this job, I never imagined the number of extraordinary people I would get to interact with and how they would change me for the better, many of whom have become friends for life. Through your involvement in this work as colleagues, board members, donors, community leaders, Staff, AmeriCorps members, Alumni, partners, and students, every one of you have profoundly impacted me and enriched my life in the most meaningful ways.

Most importantly, I am grateful that year after year, I played a small role in making it possible for thousands of students and ACMs to build relationships and have a lasting impact on each other and the world around them.

The biggest takeaway I want to leave you with regarding City Year’s work and the work of K-12 education in Providence is that a “true education” is never only about test scores or assessments improving. It’s about seeing students, listening to them, and supporting them in finding their identity and purpose, their intelligence and character, in a world that continues to be filled with injustice and tragedy. This world needs their leadership now more than ever.

I hope the legacy I have left is this: center on what is most important when developing a strategy and then execute with purpose and passion. Always put people first. Care deeply about how you make them feel, earn their trust, and honor their experience. Value every interaction with another person, whether simple, profound, or challenging. Those interactions- personally and professionally – make up our days, and if you let them, you will not only see positive results, but you will also enrich and change your life in ways you could not have imagined.

One of City Year’s most deeply held values is ‘Students First, Collaboration Always’ City Year Providence has and always will put students at the center of everything they do and every decision they make and will continue to collaborate with loyal and passionate stakeholders like you to ensure they get all the support and encouragement they deserve to be the next generation of leaders. I hope you will continue to be a part of the community of people who support this work – I certainly will.

With Gratitude,

Jennie

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