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Introducing Toshira Monroe: Uniting Compassion, Leadership, and Empowerment as Bread for the City’s New Chief Operating Officer

June marked a significant milestone for Bread for the City as we proudly welcomed Toshira Monroe into our ranks as Chief Operating Officer. With a distinguished career spanning over 12 years in the non-profit sector, Toshira resonates strongly as a thought leader and project manager, having made notable strides in progressive roles. While originally hailing from Baytown, Texas, Toshira’s vibrant Caribbean heritage traces back to St. Lucia, with her family’s migration from St. Croix to Florida in pursuit of better opportunities. Growing up in Florida, Monroe’s interests were not limited to beaches and surfing but extended to her passion for helping people, which ignited the path she treads today.

During her formative years, Toshira became a “champion volunteer,” engaging in community work through her church and actively participating in volunteer programs within her county. As she transitioned into adulthood, her innate commitment to free-thinking, information sharing, and problem-solving manifested in her role as an HIV Outreach Worker at the Alachua County Health Department. There, she honed her skills while pursuing a background in education and medicine, focusing on HIV/AIDS in the Black community. During this time, she realized the importance of meeting people where they are, even setting up shop in the back of barbershops to ensure accessibility to testing and support services.

What brought Toshira to Washington, DC? 

Her husband played a pivotal role, albeit indirectly. Amid the 2012 recession and fresh off their graduation, Toshira’s husband, an architect, sought work in the District while she remained behind. However, a Black elder urged her to “go and be with her husband,” prompting her relocation to DC. The Monroe’s love story dates back to 2000, and since her relocation in 2012, the nation’s capital has become their new home. Initially teaching at a school in Southeast, she couldn’t help but notice how the students’ education took precedence over their overall well-being. This realization propelled her to become a dedicated volunteer at My Sister’s Place (MSP), a shelter in DC for survivors of domestic violence. Toshira sought to educate parents on supporting their children, hoping it would positively impact their well-being and academic performance. Through this experience, she discovered that the challenges faced in the District mirrored those in countless other places, where communities were divided by “railroad tracks,” and resources were scarce. Toshira’s commitment to service grew, and her remarkable accomplishments caught the attention of MSP’s staff, eventually leading to her part-time and, ultimately, full-time role as the organization’s Deputy Director.

What drew Toshira to Bread for the City?

Toshira recalls, “Bread for the City is a name that all other nonprofits know and use. I have often recommended clients to Bread’s services.” Her time at My Sister’s Place revealed a recurring pattern among survivors of domestic violence—financial abuse that trapped individuals in toxic relationships due to a lack of economic security. Attracted to Bread’s economic initiatives centered around guaranteed basic income and having crossed paths with their staff, Toshira couldn’t help but view it as a sign, “This is what I have been asking and hoping for, doing what others don’t have the courage to do. I just thought these people weren’t afraid. Go with people leading with fierceness.”

What excites Toshira about her new role as Chief Operating Officer? 

Racial equity work. She eagerly anticipates collaborating with like-minded individuals who share the same ultimate goals, even if their journeys differ. Additionally, she relishes embracing her Blackness fully and tackling problems without judgment. Witnessing the dedication of everyone at Bread for the City to meet internal and external needs and creating opportunities for individuals invigorates her. Above all, what sets this organization apart is its focus on people—a priority that resonates deeply with Toshira. She is enthusiastic about empowering others, fueling their passion and drive. In awe of her own reality, she often wonders, “Am I really working here? Am I dreaming?”

If Toshira had to encapsulate her career thus far with a tagline, it would undoubtedly be: “Girl, you did that!” she says.

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