The Remarkable Women of CIS Dallas: Featuring a Q&A with CPO, Jeannea Busby
Women’s History Month, punctuated by International Women’s Day on March 8th, means a great deal for women in every stage of life, and particularly those in the workforce. In 2013, over half of managerial and professional occupations in the U.S. (52.2%) were held by women, up from 30.6% in 1968, according to the Pew Research Center. Still, women continue to lag behind men in representation among leaders in business. COVID-19 caused a mass exodus of women from the workplace, with a loss of over 5 million net jobs in the United States held by women during the height of the pandemic (National Women’s Law Center, 2021). Experts speculate it could take years to return to pre-pandemic levels of female representation. Throughout history, women have been held out of the workplace due to long-held misconceptions, sexism, family responsibilities, misogyny, gendered ageism, and lack of opportunity. At Communities in Schools of the Dallas Region, we take these statistics personally, and continue to do everything in our power to foster, elevate, and promote women to positions of leadership.
We pride ourselves on being a diverse community of passionate individuals who want to help children succeed in school and life. It would be irresponsible to do this without diversity and equity among our staff. Current President & CEO, Adam Powell, has been in the position since 2019. Since that time, the organization has more than doubled in size, and Adam has created an entirely new team of executives. Just a quick glance at the website staff page will reveal, save for Adam, the executive team is composed entirely of women. Moreover, more than half are women of color. Each of these individuals is the best person for their position. With experience ranging from nonprofit, Fortune 500, and government, to education, medical, and research, these powerhouse women lead CIS Dallas with passion, energy, and flexibility.
Most of the executive team has been hired by Adam during his tenure, carefully chosen and interviewed to fit the changing culture of both the organization and our community. An exception to this rule is Jeannea Busby, Chief Program Officer. Jeannea has been with CIS Dallas for over 13 years, and has held almost every position in the organization. Beginning as a Site Coordinator in Garland ISD, Jeannea has moved through the ranks as a Volunteer Coordinator, a Senior Regional Director, and was finally appointed as the Chief Program Officer in June 2021. Jeannea exemplifies servant leadership, never asking her staff to do anything she wouldn’t do herself. A perfect example of her commitment is exemplified in the following interview, which was completed by Jeannea as she covered vacancies at multiple CIS campuses to ensure our students never go a day without the encouragement, guidance, and assistance of a CIS staff member. We asked Jeannea about her greatest inspiration, her feelings about the current workplace climate for women, and what she would say to young women seeking a career in social services.
Q: Did you always want to work in education?
A: Yes, I have always had a desire to work in education. I can recall playing school as a little girl. At the end of every school year, I can remember collecting all my teachers’ workbooks and unused worksheets, so that I could play school with my dolls and stuffed animals. The importance of education was instilled in me as a little girl. The education system in my hometown (Port Arthur, TX) is reflective of many of my family members reaching as far back as my great-grandparents.
Q: Can you name some women who have inspired you to be a better leader?
A: The first inspirational female leader in my life is my mother. My mother is a value-driven leader with a profound sense of purpose and responsibility. Additionally, I would have to add that my middle school and high school counselors were extremely influential during my adolescence years. In my adult years, I am inspired by former First Lady Michelle Obama and Good Morning America talk show host Robin Roberts. Both of these ladies possess the GRIT of Courage, Perseverance, Resilience and Passion.
Q: Do you think the working environment for women is better now than when you entered the workforce? Why or why not?
A: In 2022, the working environment is amplifying the voice for women in leadership. I believe in the recent years, women have proven that we also deserve the right to be in executive roles to represent businesses and organizations. In my opinion, as a woman, especially a woman of color, our GRIT and determination have always been present, now we are being afforded more opportunities for advancement to leadership roles. In my current role, as Chief Program Officer with Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region, it is refreshing to serve on an Executive Team where the majority of my colleagues are women! Being a part of a highly impactful team of women also speaks volumes to our esteemed President & CEO as he saw value in each of us to help break the glass ceiling.
Q: What would you recommend to a young woman entering your field?
A: The social service field promotes social change, development and advocacy for our communities. In this line of work, it is important to recognize that we hold the pieces of the puzzles in order to connect our communities with an array of supportive resources. Therefore, always seek opportunities for growth, be genuinely YOU, always listen for understanding before replying, build strong relationships and always network to grow your knowledge in the social service field.
Q: What’s the greatest piece of advice you have ever received?
A: The past is like using your rear-view mirror in the car, it’s good to glance back and see how far you have come, but if you stare too long you will miss what’s right in front of you.
Q: What inspires you every day?
A: Understanding that every day is a brand-new day! This means, I am granted the ability to forget what happened yesterday and to create new memories in the present. Every morning, I take the time to read a positive affirmation in order to boost my thoughts and energize the start of my day.
Jeannea is only one of the over 150 talented women who work at Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region. We are proud our staff demographics reflect the students we serve, but most importantly, our organization fosters a culture of equity, empowerment, and exploration. These values are expertly reflected by the many women holding leadership positions in the organization, beginning at the very highest level. We celebrate Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day, and the recognition of women in the workforce across all sectors, and we salute you, ladies!