JoEllen is a 2007 graduate of Berea College, where she received a degree in sociology with an emphasis in African and African-American studies. After spending summers in Costa Rica and Macedonia working on poverty related initiatives, JoEllen started Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week on her campus. She also served as a Bonner Scholar and ran an after-school program for three years teaching middle school students about community service.
Field placement: Connecticut Food Bank
New Haven, Connecticut
JoEllen assessed the best methods for closing the gap between Food Bank resources and the need for emergency food in Connecticut. Using research and GIS technology, JoEllen mapped the need for emergency food programs throughout Connecticut and recommended strategies for the Food Bank to better address ongoing food insecurity in local communities.
Policy placement: Jewish Council for Public Affairs
JoEllen mobilized Jewish communities around the country to engage more heavily in anti-poverty services and policies. She created and led an "issue cluster," a forum for leaders of Jewish communities in the U.S. to discuss healthcare, hunger, education, and affordable housing issues as well as best practices for addressing them at the local and national level. JoEllen also planned a conference and service trip to New Orleans focused on addressing issues of race, poverty, and climate change.