I interviewed Eyvette Jones, the CEO and business owner of Urban Possibilities, a non-profit organization that gives the hopeless hope. I believe that you and I can learn a lot about seeing each human being as equal and worthy of love. People are able to get off the streets by first believing they are loved, they are capable of change, and ultimately that they have potential to be. Be greater. To be be purpose-filled individuals. I am honored to know such a amazing woman as Eyvette Jones and hope to partner with the organization in someone in the future.
1. What was your motivation for starting Urban Possibilities?
In 2001, television producer Eyvette Jones was assigned a straight forward story – cover four mothers in four cities who lost their children to inner-city violence for the Essence Awards (Fox Television). What she encountered was much more. An eye-opening and emotional journey that revealed a pervasive dilemma for those suffering at the bottom of the economic scale–a crisis of self-esteem. Researching further, statistics that document the inner-city in every area – from health to housing, crime to criminal justice and education to employment clearly detail the end result.
“We began by donating business clothing to small store front churches with employment outreach efforts”
Jones launched Suited for Success carving out a specific niche to serve: poor inner-city job seekers looking for work. SFS began by donating business clothing to small store front churches in South Central with employment outreach efforts. The service soon spread with donations to Union Rescue Mission, LA County Department of Social Services GROW (General Relief Opportunities For Work) program and the Department of Corrections – Huntington Park Parole Complex.
The organization has now changed its name to Urban Possibilities to reflect an evolved philosophy and programs beyond business clothing.
“Only by affecting how at-risk men and women think about themselves can we begin to impact sustained change.”
4. What do you think is the sole job of a leader?
For me being a leader is the balancing multiple jobs successfully.
- To keep a keen eye on the larger vision (including the mission and values) of the business
- To communicate that vision in a way that inspires others to action
- To make sure the group actions are in concert with accomplishing that larger vision
- To empower people to see the talents, abilities and leadership in themselves
- To be teachable – take in new information and apply it
- To know that you are ultimately responsible for it all.
5. How do you spot leadership qualities in people? Are only certain people born leaders?
I notice leadership qualities when I see:
- Self Starters with initiative – they jump in and begin to
- People who naturally take on responsibility
- People who navigate relationships well
- People who are passionate about a vision
- People who are passionate about carving out a path to that realize that vision
- People who are passionate about empowering others
Many of the people I respect were not born leaders. They alchemized their experiences and leadership was the result. There are certain muscles that create leaders that I believe can be learned, hard work, responsibility, thinking of the team first, etc.