BRIEF BIO: Ciara Ginyard has nearly 15 years experience as a non-profit manager and public administrator. As a former AmeriCorps and Peace Corps volunteer, Ciara has shown a deep love of giving back to the community. While at Syracuse University, Ciara studied both Environmental Engineering and Religion and is one the original founders of the Syracuse University chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
Ciara’s love of serving the community has taken her near and far. Ciara currently serves as a Detroit Revitalization Fellow (DRFP) specializing in workforce development as the Special Projects Manager with the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation. Prior to being selected for the DRFP program, Ciara also was a National Urban Fellow and received a Master’s degree in Public Administration from CUNY- Baruch College while at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Ciara’s calling to work with community development and youth came when she served in Honduras in the Peace Corps. Upon her return to the States she worked as a Community Program Coordinator at the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, DC, a Recruiter at the Peace Corps Atlanta Regional Office and then Data and Enrollment Manager at the East Harlem Tutorial Program in New York City.
Why did you decide to go into this line of work and why do you think it is important?
Ciara: It really wasn’t a decision to do the work that I do, youth and community development. It has been a part of me growing up. What created a framework to be a public servant was the mandatory community service hours we had to obtain in order to graduate from Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, 270 hours. I did 400. From there in college I founded the Syracuse University chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars whose mission is about service and leadership. The chapter now has over 5,000 members and I sit on the Alumni Board of the organization. Having a technical background in engineering still left me with a career in community development working in major cities like Atlanta, New York City, Baltimore, DC and now Detroit across both public and private sectors. When you live each day being your authentic self, it shows in your work. My work is important because it allows me to be me.
What impact, if any, does your work have on women?
Ciara: As a workforce development administrator, our greatest population of job seekers is women. These individuals need more than a job but also life support. My responsibility is not only to provide employment opportunities but to also create a strong pathway for career growth. That means also addressing barriers that women face everyday such as childcare costs, educational attainment, leadership development, training skills, resources for transportation subsidies so they can get back and forth to work and more. By impacting more than half of the population of jobseekers (women) ultimately, my reach touches all of the 700,000+ residents of Detroit.
What has been the most rewarding part of your work and what are you most proud of?
Ciara: The most rewarding part about my work is no specific one thing but how everyday, I wake up humbled that God has given me the opportunity and skills to help others and the make a difference in a unique way that I haven’t done before.
What has been most challenging about your work?
Ciara: Working in government, the culture is whoever speaks the loudest and quickest wins, thus my challenge is being assertive. I have a lot to bring to any table that I’m at whether it’s socially with connecting folks to each other or professionally for collaboration on a project. Though many in error assume that because I’m processing what is taking place in order to offer a solution to the plan as being docile, thus what I have to offer is not utilized. I offer to others that when they are in a similar situation, to share with others that it’s okay to pause and be confident in knowing that the best answers/responses aren’t always the quickest.
What is your favorite quote and why?
Ciara: The quote included in my email signature:
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.
I love this quote because it really touches and pushes me in the work that I do. Basically, the quote can be summed up as “it’s not about you”. I think many people go through life too seriously and some not seriously enough. When we realize and acknowledge that we are just one piece of the puzzle, we not only find our “fit” but also know how we can help to make the puzzle come together which is the “broader concerns of all humanity” that Dr. King is referring to in the quote.
Who are your greatest influences?
Ciara: Unfortunately, I didn’t grow-up with any renown individuals that I wanted to model myself after. I knew very early that I am different and everyone has their own unique journeys. Two people that continue to impact my life everyday are my parents. It’s amazing how much I am my father’s daughter and there is no escaping it. Over the years, I embrace it more and his nuggets of wisdom and guidance as I navigate my way through life. My mom’s spirit helps me to balance my Dad’s side by being more accepting and sensitive to the “grey” side of life. Truly it is these individuals that help me be my full self.
What would you like for your legacy to be?
Ciara: I want my legacy to be that I am a relentless, selfless servant. I want others to know that I genuinely and wholeheartedly invest myself in truly worthwhile endeavors to help others. That I will be an agent of change for society as a whole.
What’s next for you?
Ciara: Everyone says how life is about the journey, right? So many great life experiences are taking place with family and friends and I want to make sure that I am physically, mentally and emotionally present for all of it! Whatever, I may be doing career wise, what’s next for me will include being conscious of being there for my community in any way possible.
Is there an someplace online where readers can connect with you and follow your work?
Ciara: The best way to connect with me is via Linkedin. On Linkedin, I share articles relevant to current national news, growing within one’s profession and how to be the best you. I can be connected to via Linkedin at: www.linkedin.com/in/ciaraginyard