by Richard Alblas
At age 35, Joyce Ivory is President of The National Coalition of 100 Black Women Charlottesville Metropolitan Area, co-founder of ESTEAM for Youth, Diversity and Recruitment Coordinator at Albemarle County, PhD candidate, mother of six, loving wife, and a passionate promoter of equity and access to resources for all underserved people in Central Virginia.
To what end?
“To make sure no one in our community is left behind and everyone is getting access to the resources that they need. That’s pretty ambitious, I know, but I feel I’m part of the generation that can make that change into reality,” Ivory said.
A few years ago Ivory, born and raised in Charlottesville, saw a story on TV about the Coalition of 100 Black Women in Charlottesville. She was inspired to get involved in order to combat the disparities African American girls and women face.
“We advocate on behalf of black women and girls to promote leadership development and gender equity in the areas of health, education and economic sustainability,” Ivory said. “We currently have 41 members and it’s a diverse group. We have doctors, lawyers, teachers, social workers, and entrepreneurs and on a day-to-day basis they advocate to get the issues on the agenda of local and state legislators.”
The group raises issues like childhood obesity rates among African Americans, accessibility to educational resources and access to financial education.
“I always shied away from politics and raising these kinds of issues,” Ivory said. “Becoming a parent definitely changed that. I now face it head on and talk with local and state legislators and have even visited with politicians in Washington to raise awareness. In order for change, we need legislation.”
Ivory is also co-founder of ESTEAM for Youth, an organization focused on getting young girls interested in careers in Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Once a year, youth in grades K-8 have an opportunity to explore careers they might never have considered. They are joined by student-volunteers and professionals from the community who help them navigate these options. Last year, about 45 girls participated in the annual event at Albemarle High School, and Ivory hopes to get more girls signed up this year.
Two months ago Ivory started her new job as the Diversity and Recruitment Coordinator for Albemarle County.
“In this role, my job is to be a liaison between hiring managers of the many departments within Albemarle County and groups of potential new hires in underserved groups, like the African American community or the LGBT community,” Ivory said. “I’m facilitating these conversations on the recruitment side and support the hiring managers in finding highly qualified people that might not be on their radar, in an effort to bring diversity to the organization.”
In everything Ivory does, the common thread is this to make sure underserved populations have access to resources, which leads to economic sustainability for groups in the community that previously have not been stable.
“I’m the fifth generation of my family born and raised in Charlottesville, going all the way back to Jefferson’s plantations. That’s humbling to realize,” she said. “The previous generations have had their accomplishments or wealth taken away from them. My generation has the chance, for the first time, to rise above that. It all comes down to resources and knowing where they are and when you need them. It’s no fun to be invited to a party and when you get there, everyone is already gone. Creating change is a slow process, but creating change is also a labor of love.”
Ivory is well aware that change doesn’t happen overnight.
“It will take time. In the meantime, we celebrate our small victories,” she said.
Ivory said she is ‘shocked and honored’ to be part of the 10 Under 40.
“But let’s be clear; I don’t do this alone. I’m doing this with some amazing and wonderful ladies in our community,” she said. “What we are trying to accomplish is truly a team effort.”