Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Meet the Staff: Jenna Johnson


When my husband was offered a job at an engineering firm in Charleston, it was hard for me to leave a job that I loved in Atlanta but the prospect of living in Charleston closer to family and near the coast was an easy “YES!” I stayed behind a month continuing to work and looked for jobs in Charleston’s nonprofit sector, but nothing immediately caught my eye. It wasn’t until I moved here that I stumbled upon a summer AmeriCorps VISTA position that I thought would be perfect as I got my feet wet in learning about the nonprofits here. I had another job offer on the table going in, but when Origin (then Family Services) offered me a full-time Marketing Coordinator position in place of the VISTA opportunity, I felt drawn here. I learned about the impact that this century-old organization had in the community, and how they seemed to be more behind-the-scenes. I wanted to change that and give them more exposure! 

Origin has progressed in ways that I could have never dreamed. Our programs have been remolded to fit the needs of the community, just as it has since 1888, and our services have modernized. It has been a unique experience and a privilege to be a part of the journey and the transformation.

What has surprised you the most about working at Origin SC?

Nonprofits generally have a more “charity” and a little less “business” mindset. Obviously, nonprofits should be mission-driven, but without proper planning, many nonprofits fail. One thing that surprised me in working at Origin is the fact that it is run like a business. We look at numbers, not with profit in mind, but with sustainability in mind. How can we be sustainable for years to come so that we can continue to serve thousands of people in our community? Origin is constantly focused on answering that very question. 

What is an experience that has really shaped who you are? 

There’s no way I can pick just one experience. Being a pastor’s daughter and a Christian shaped my desire to help individuals in my community find life and purpose. My experience as a Clemson Tiger shaped my worldview that there’s a much bigger world than what’s in my back yard, and to never give less than 110%. And I’d have to say that being married to my best friend and being a mom has changed me forever – my husband and daughter inspire me every day with their empathy and compassion. Both at different levels, but equally motivational.

How has Origin SC helped you in your career development?

This organization’s dream became my dream when I began working here five years ago. My experience in leading the rebranding project for our organization from start to finish was a very long career-defining moment. I had worked on large projects before, but nothing compares to leading a 128-year-old organization through strategic and creative planning that would impact it for years to come. It was not an easy job, and most of the time, it wasn’t even fun. But it was fulfilling. It means the world to me that this organization came together with all of its creative juices and expertise to whip up a name, image, and brand that reflects all facets of our mission. I learned my strengths, I worked through my weaknesses, and saw a dream become a reality. 

What is the one thing in this world you are most proud of?

I am proud and yet so very humbled at what this organization has accomplished in the five years I have been here! It was a privilege to play a part in the rebranding project for Origin. It’s not every day that someone can say that. I am ready to see the next big thing Origin will take on! 

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