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Communications that Inspire: Reflections on a Year at Bread for the City

Elton Johnson (26), began his work as a Communications Fellow at Bread for the City in September of 2016. Today, back in his country, he shares his experience…

Where are you from?

Living in Kingston, Jamaica but originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica. When I tell people about Jamaica I always encourage them to embrace duality and Montego Bay is no different. Imagine the most beautiful and relaxing beaches you’ll ever see just a few miles away from the chaos and confusion of Jamaican city life.

What is your background?

My background is basically communications. I’ve always been in communications and probably always will be. Using communications as a tool to improve the lives of others is my passion.

What did you work on as a Communications Fellow at Bread for the City?

With Bread for the City I worked on so many projects. My favorites were a Racial Equity Guide for Nonprofit Communications, Bread’s 2016 – 2107 Social Media Plan and the projects that I worked on with the ladies of WomenStrongDC.

Which words come to your mind when thinking about your fellow year?

It was the best of times, but it was stressful at times.

In what way do you think your fellowship at Bread for the City has shaped your career?

Bread for the City has definitely made me understand the importance of putting the populations we serve at the center of all our existence when we work in nonprofit, or nongovernmental organizations as we call them in Jamaica. There is the tendency to plan for and not plan with the people we serve and the lives we are trying to improve. More than anything Bread has taught me this through how it embodies the principles of Dignity, Justice and Respect. These lessons will continue to shape my career and how I do work in nonprofit forever.

What are your major lessons learned during your fellow assignment in terms of professional growth, career planning and opportunities?

I learned over the last year that failure is part of the process.  In a year of Trumps and Chechnyas, it’s hard to explain how an advocate, like myself, has manages to keep upbeat and positive about the progress of Gender and LGBT rights in parts of the global south. But with this year in hindsight I have learned that once I recognize that failure is part of the process I just learn from the mistakes and move on to the next big challenge. #TeamNoFear

What is your motivation to work in the Non Profit Sector?

Seeing people’s lives improved by the work that I do. Not giving a man fish but giving him a boat, a net, moral support, a day’s meal and showing him how he can fish for himself, then watching him prosper. That gets me out of bed in the morning even on the worst days.

Most enriching professional achievement so far?

This is a difficult one. I’ve had so many. My most recent is maybe last week when I finished draft two of my debut novel.

What kind of advice would you give to future Fellows?

No expectations. Enter this fellowship and make it your own.

By the way…

The last favorite book you read: All The Light You Cannot See, Anthony Doerr.

Behind the suit: 100% Gummy Bears.

Favorite quote: “The most revolutionary thing you can do is be yourself” – Rita Mae Brown.

Inspiration: Malala Yousafzai and black girls slaying.

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