The Uncommon Team
September 27th, 2021
Community leaders have a lot in common, like their enthusiasm for teaching and learning, and a passion for building meaningful relationships within and across communities. As community leaders, their goals are similar, but their paths to community leadership are surprisingly diverse and often surprisingly...surprising.
Our series, "The Rise of the Community Leader," celebrates these uncommon paths, the people who took them, and what they learned along the way. Want to connect with more community leaders like them? Join Uncommon.
Unofficially: I started my first community at the age of 9. It was a club for all of the kids in my neighborhood to do activities together, such as riding bikes, jumping ramps, or playing in the woods.
Officially: I started off working in social media communities as the first-ever Social Media & Community Manager for CareerBuilder. From there, my career took off in ways I never could have predicted.
As a community strategy consultant today, I like to think of myself as a personal trainer for community professionals. Even though I've started many communities in my past, today I thrive on being able to guide and assist my clients to do more and do better. The last community I managed myself was the Spiritual Sisters of Los Angeles, a Facebook Group that is still going!
Take that wild and unique idea and RUN WITH IT. Don't waste one more second wondering what others will think or judge.
My hope is that while the investment continues, we will see more consideration given to Community at the leadership level. To me, investment in Community includes hiring leaders at the level of Chief Community Officer or VP of Community, reporting directly to the CEO.
Connection. At the core of what we are doing is connecting people. How lucky am I to have an entire career path based on connection!
I have friends who started their career paths as volunteer moderators in a community, not knowing the opportunities that would come out of that. Today, they are experts in this field.
I'd like to send my appreciation to the independent consultants in this field who have paved the way before me and shown that it is possible to make a living in this field as a solopreneur. Thank you to Brian Oblinger, Todd Nilson, Carrie Melissa Jones, Bill Johnston, Erica Kuhl, Rich Millington, and Jake McKee for constantly inspiring me.
Brands are more seriously considering becoming community-led than ever before, and that's quite inspiring and exhilarating to see! My clients are talking about major transformations to their customer experience, their business, and their company culture, all in the name of Community. Some may say this is due to the pandemic and the need for everything to go virtual. Whatever the reason, I'm thrilled to see it and happy to be part of it!
As a community leader, I want to inspire the next generation of strategists and those who continue to pursue Community as a career path. I also want to see our field expand in the ways we talk about the benefits of Community. There are so many more industries, companies and organizations who don't know about the benefits yet, and I want to help get the message to all of them.
If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
Dolphin, because all I really want to do is swim and jump around all day.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Jenny! We're so glad to have leaders like you to learn from, alongside those leaders you named yourself 🙌
We're continually looking to highlight community leaders, voices, and stories—if there's someone you'd like to nominate to share theirs, let us know. See you in Uncommon!