Have you met Jenifer Daniels?
Innovative and not afraid to take chances.
Hi! Have you met Jenifer Daniels
I met her circa 2008. She reached out to me on LinkedIn before moving to Charlotte. After several months of talking virtually we met in person and we CLICKED. I am hard to impress, but I was instantly impressed with Jenifer. She is definitely one of the smartest people I know. She’s innovative, not afraid to take chances, and she has a passion for doing good, which makes my heart smile and is a blessing to our community.
I asked her 6 questions. Her answers are below.
What inspires you?
Activism inspires me. And I don’t mean “chaining yourself to a tree” activism. I am referring to the simple act of doing something for someone other than yourself. I caught the activism bug in high school as a member of DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America). While others were working on their marketing or sales projects, I was the social entrepreneur, choosing the civic consciousness project instead. And that stuck with me. After I completed undergrad, I started working in nonprofits and continued my career for 12 years working for museums and educational institutions.
The purest form of activism is doing something for the greater good. My activism looks like serving on city and county advisory boards and being the former board chair of Sustain Charlotte. My activism means making sure that I vote in every election. My activism looks like showing up to a protest when you know someone in our community has been wronged. My activism is giving money to the Arts and Science Council. My activism is supporting community-based theater like OnQ Productions. My activism is helping a friend build an organization to “empowher” young women. My activism is starting an unconference for other nonprofit professionals like myself. That is what inspires me.
What frustrates you?
Charlotte drivers. I’ll leave it at that.
Who do you look up to?
That is such a funny question because I actually look up to a comic book character. I love Wonder Woman. I mean LOVE her. When I was younger I either wanted to be Linda Carter or have her as my mother. I was always fascinated with her power, her stature, and her quiet leadership. I mean she wore a swimsuit and boots for Christ’s sake. I’ve always thought that was empowering and sexy.
As a child I didn’t know that she was based on a comic book character. I only saw her on television. It wasn’t until my adulthood that I learned this and then I became very interested in her as an archetype of feminism. Today I have about 4 or 5 original art pieces, three figurines, and one badass tattoo of her likeness. It’s huge. If you’ve seen any of my dainty tattoos you would say “okay that’s cute” and then you see this 12-inch tattoo…it’s pretty crazy.
What’s next for Charlotte?
Charlotte is at a crossroads. Yes, we have a burgeoning entrepreneurial community. Yes, our millennials are activated and engaged. Yes, we are becoming more visible and cosmopolitan. But that is not what Charlotte looks like for everyone. Our school system is segregated. Our children are not proficient readers. Our community — in many aspects — is divided by neighborhood lines, food deserts, and inequity. So yes, I love Charlotte. But I love her enough to admit what’s broken.
So what’s next? I’d like to encourage the engaged members of #WeLoveCLT to determine what’s next. Let’s use our talent and treasure and invest the time to make the Charlotte that we experience a reality for all of her citizens.
Why do you love Charlotte?
I love this city because it has allowed me to flourish personally. I’ve taken on leadership roles. I’ve been able to live my dreams of becoming a university educator and giving a TEDx talk. (I’m delivering the welcome in October, btw). And I’ve become a contributor on local television and satellite radio. Charlotte has allowed me to pursue my passions and for that I am grateful.
If you could take a visitor around Charlotte for one day where would you go?
When my friends or family visit from out of town, we take them to Uptown. I was born and raised in Detroit and most of the folks who come to visit us are urban dwellers so I like for them to see the contrast of urban environments.
Learn more about Jenifer at www.jeniferdaniels.com.
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