Today marks my last day at jjslist.com. Next week, I fly halfway around the world to spend the next two years in Singapore.
As I was packing my things yesterday, I came across the JJ’s List folder that JJ had handed me 3 years ago, during our very first meeting at our neighborhood favorite Brothers K Coffeehouse. Inside it was information about JJ’s List, plus a job description for a JJ’s List Assistant. It was for a temporary part-time job; just 10-15 hours a week helping JJ grow her small but mighty grassroots non-profit organization.
While I had zero experience with the disability community, the organization’s mission of strengthening the social and economic futures of people with disabilities, combined with the sheer energy and passion that JJ exuded, attracted me to the opportunity. As we shook hands in agreement at the end of that meeting, little did I know that that moment would mark the beginning of a life-changing experience for me, both professionally and personally.
One of the things I have loved most about being a part of jjslist.com is its core beliefs that people with disabilities can build independent living and employment skills with the right support, and that businesses that work to strengthen their disability-awareness do so because it’s good for business. And jjslist.com walks the walk.
Getting to work in a truly integrated environment where people with and without disabilities work alongside each other has been tremendously eye-opening. The individuals who come through the doors at jjslist.com never fail to light up the room, and each one brings his/her own unique personality and talents to the table, whether it’s in teaching others to take public transportation, in training business leaders about disability-awareness, or in sharing their personal stories. If you have never had the privilege of being part of a diverse workforce such as this, believe me when I say that your team will become much stronger when you make inclusion a part of the fabric of your organization. As with anything new, it may be challenging at first, but the payoff is tremendous.
If you’re one of the people whose paths I’ve had the great privilege of crossing over the last 3 years, I’d like to give you a big virtual hug. Thanks for the memories. It’s been so fun working hard to grow our seedling of an organization into a healthy plant, and I cannot wait to see it bloom beautifully. I get to officially hand the reigns over today. You’ll now be in the good hands of the talented Philister Sidigu.
What does the future hold for me? I’ll be in Singapore growing my business Media For Social Change, and working on my first feature documentary World Class Learning. Look out also for the official launch of the Media For Social Change Podcast. But like the title says, this is not goodbye, because once a part of the jjslist.com family, always a part of the jjslist.com family.
In the meantime, this is the last time I’ll get to sign off as jjslist.com’s Digital Marketing and Community Engagement Manager. So in true spirit, I’ll leave you with a list of write-ups about my favorite jjslist.com moments. Come walk down memory lane with me:
- Buses and Tie-Downs – Personal story about being a wheelchair user on the public bus by our dear Brad Bowen (we miss you!)
- Finding Bauer – Touching story about Sarah G.’s journey to finding her service dog
- Working with a Disability: An Insider’s View – Great story by our Office Assistant Sarah A.
- 3 Lessons in Disability-Awareness We Can All Learn – One of our most popularly shared stories about the power of a review.
- A Big Store With Lots of Heart – Lovely piece about Nordstrom’s unique policy
- Lessons We Can Learn from Steppenwolf Theatre – Watch the video review that led to Steppenwolf engaging us for a Disability-Awareness Training.
- Whole Foods 5% Day Highlights – Cupcakes + Conversations = Awesome. Thanks Bridget!
- Google Chicago & JJ’s List Talk Tech and Disability – ’nuff said.
- JJ’s List Learns Google Analytics from The Analysis Exchange – our introduction to the wonderful Jess Joseph, who’s been a great supporter.
- Chicago Interactive Marketing Association awards JJ’s List CDSI grant – great guidance from a great group of people. Thanks, Kendall & Matt!
- Professionals Donate Time to Coach our Volunterns with Disabilities – And how they flourished!
- Good Customer Service At Your Door – how one simple device makes a big difference.
- Behind The Scenes: Video Production Set for Pace Bus Instructional Video Series – what a phenomenal experience with great cast & crew.
- Welcome to JJ’s List – A Social Enterprise of Search, Inc. – When I realize just how much we’ve grown.