September 27th 2010
Jodina Hicks arrived in Camden as an 18 year-old. A freshman at Eastern University who wanted to “make a difference”, she found her way to Camden one Sunday morning. That was 1988.
Her first assignment twenty-three years ago was to teach a Sunday School class for 13 middle school girls. By far the rowdiest group of children in our young ministry, Jodina walked into class with no curriculum, no experience, and no training. The girls did their best to scare off their new, young teacher from a steel-town in Pennsylvania. But Sunday after Sunday Jodina kept coming back, slowly gaining the trust and respect of the girls.
After a few months I realized there was something special about this young woman. Her persistence, her love for Camden, and her passion for young people was palpable.
Over the next 12 years, Jodina helped me build the ministry of UrbanPromise. She created the StreetLeader Program—our dynamic teen employment and leadership initiative. She worked with me to open the UrbanPromise Academy in 1997—our high school which has become a last chance educational opportunity for our most vulnerable teens. Hundreds of teens were impacted by her life.
In 2000, Jodina left UrbanPromise to attain her law degree from Rutgers University and move into the non-profit world of prison reform and prisoner reentry—a critical mission that helps formerly incarcerated men and women successfully transition back into civilian life. After a few years with Public/Private Ventures in Philadelphia, she went to Chicago to become Vice President of the SAFER Foundation. SAFER is the premiere prisoner reentry program in the country.
On July 6th, 2010 Jodina returned to UrbanPromise to assume the mantel of Executive Director. With over 60 full-time staff, a $3.2 million dollar budget, and hundreds of youth involved daily in an array of programs, I needed a competent administrative leader to manage and grow UrbanPromise in Camden.
In twenty-three years of managing a non-profit, teaching organizational leadership, and consulting with other non-profit organizations, I have yet to meet a person who embodies administrative leadership like Jodina. Jodina has a rare skill-set of high level administrative ability, visionary leadership, inter-personal skills, and passion for youth.
UrbanPromise has been given a remarkable gift in Jodina. Our ministry is in incredibly capable hands. UrbanPromise is poised for a dynamic new chapter under Jodina’s leadership.
I’m not going anywhere. I continue to serve as the president of UrbanPromise Camden—speaking, promoting, recruiting interns, raising resources, and working with UrbanPromise International to expand the reach of UrbanPromise globally to other North American cities, Malawi, and Honduras.
Thanks for your continued support over the years. Great things are happening.
Dr. Bruce Main
President of UrbanPromise