Most Impactful Staff Member
Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson City
Shauna Blanche knows hard times. Growing up in the projects of Chicago, she saw more hardship as a young child than most people see in a lifetime, including gang violence, shootings, drugs, and the loss of her mother at the age of 12. While the hurt and tragedy could have been the end of her story, Blanche turned her journey into one of hope, healing, and helping others.
Blanche now serves as the director of program operations for the Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson City, where she spends most days ensuring 34 staff have the resources they need, including quality programs, to help at-risk kids succeed in this community. She knows the agency inside and out and started by working with the kids back in 2005 when she was a new student at Lincoln University. It was a solid start to her new life in Jefferson City.
“When I started at the club, something just clicked for me,” says Blanche. “I realized how much I loved this work and these kids.”
Blanche knows firsthand how important respect can be for kids, especially for those struggling with tough issues at home and school. A big part of her job is mentoring staff on how to see different perspectives and how to manage a classroom for optimal learning. It starts with the small things, including the positivity in their words when talking with kids.
“All these kids are not the same. It’s important to get to know them and respect each of them as human beings because their words and thoughts matter. They have so much to say,” notes Blanche.
This unwavering dedication to helping kids succeed is her core work, although her role has greatly expanded over the years. While she does have more duties behind a desk these days, she still spends a lot of time in the classroom interacting with the kids and staff. It’s where her heart is. It’s also where she continues to make the most impact, which is noticed by all around her.
“The entire program now falls under the leadership of Shauna, who, despite every obstacle, made her way out of violence to become one of the top leaders at the club,” says Executive Director Stephanie Johnson. “Her great leadership shows through the impact she has made on thousands and thousands of kids who have walked through these doors the past 13 years.”
Seeing the lives of the kids and families she’s touched keeps Blanche motivated. “The biggest highlight of my job is the opportunity to hire people who were in my club group when they were kids. Now, they’re ready to serve,” says Blanche. “That’s been the most rewarding experience of all.”
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