Note: This interview was originally published in The WE Magazine on October 17, 2021 and was conducted by Tammy Reese. You can read the original article here.
Janea Jamison is a Louisiana native and hosts a weekly podcast called Her Story, L.L.C. She creates opportunities for critical dialogue and action for Black Women who have defied obstacles and turned them into success. Janea is a longtime advocate for race and gender justice. Her justice lens focuses on centering BIPOC women and girls in policy, organizing, and advocacy to develop a roadmap for equity.
Currently, Janea leads all programming strategies for the Power Coalition. Her work includes the statewide growth of the Power Coalition and the implementation of core programming, including She Leads — a leadership program for female leaders of color; Black Men and Boys Statewide work; voting rights work; and policy/advocacy work. Under Janea’s leadership, the Power Coalition led a successful 2020 statewide Census campaign that utilized a digital informed approach to reach thousands of “Hard to Count” Louisianians across the state during a pandemic. She also leads a comprehensive Election Protection Program in partnership with NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Prior to her position with the Power Coalition, Janea worked with the East Baton Rouge Metro Council as the Legislative Assistant to Councilwoman Erika L. Green (D-5) and Court System Supervisor in Assumption Parish under the leadership of Mayor Ron Animashaun. Her program areas included constituent relations and youth development. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She received her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Master’s in Public Administration from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is also a best-selling lead author and featured writer in the first edition of the HBCU Experience Anthology: The Southern University System Edition.
She volunteers for local nonprofits such as Imagination Leads, Butterfly Society, St. Vincent De Paul, Big Buddy Program, and DreamWorks Louisiana in her spare time. She is a 2021 Southern University Alumni Federation 40 under Forty Cohort Trois, a 2020 Institute of Politics: Loyola University New Orleans Cohort, and a 2019 BOLD (Black Organizing for Leadership & Dignity) Fellow.
Through a commitment to service to a cause greater than self, she hopes to inspire millennials to take an active stand in their communities. We Empower Magazine got an exclusive interview with Janea Jamison.
How did the weekly podcast Her Story, L.L.C. come about?
Everyone has a story! I launched H.E.R. Story, L.L.C. in July of 2018. During this time, I also owned a fitness apparel store, Kloset Fitness, L.L.C. On my fitness platform, I frequently shared the importance of self-love and acceptance. I thought it was also important to share my story of overcoming anorexia and how I learned to love myself and my body created in God’s image. When I shared my story, I realized so many women related to the struggles of being accepted by societal beauty standards and appearance. After receiving such positive feedback of my vulnerability in sharing my story, I decided to create H.E.R. Story Podcast to share the stories of various women of color who turned their adversities into triumph.
What impact do you intend to make through the podcast?
The impact of H.E.R. Story is to create a movement of women of color sharing their adversities, lessons learned, business advice, resources, and a network that can potentially build and partner together. Many of the guests on my show are serial entrepreneurs, servant leaders, mothers, teachers, and professionals who share similar life lessons and experiences. In doing so, I am creating a network of like-minded women who can motivate each other; and highlight and build their brands.
What type of conversations takes place?
Topics on H.E.R. Story varies; we may speak about — homelessness, misogyny or sexism in the workplace, systemic injustices, or even failed marriages. Some issues that others may deem really hard to swallow; however, we also highlight how each woman overcame the barriers within their life and was still able to create notable brands and businesses. We also share the importance of work/life balance and self-care. H.E.R. Story, L.L.C. also has an ongoing partnership with the HBCU Experience Movement, L.L.C., highlighting the importance of attending HBCU’s and alumni giving.
What goes into your work with the Power Coalition?
The work of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice is AMAZING! All of the projects I work on, whether my personal brand or professional career, intersect with community, women empowerment, and the freedom and liberation of Black people. I am a longtime advocate for race and gender justice, and the Power Coalition has allowed me to create history throughout the state of Louisiana.
My work includes the statewide growth of the Power Coalition and the implementation of core programming, including She Leads — a leadership program for female leaders of color; Black Men and Boys Statewide work; voting rights work; and policy/advocacy work. I am also the strategist behind many statewide advocacy and legislative campaigns.
What are some of the most memorable moments in your career so far?
Power Coalition has won historic legislative wins and groundbreaking advocacy campaigns that center Black and Brown communities of color through my leadership and support. For years, I have prayed for God to use me for a purpose greater than myself, and Power Coalition has allowed me to do just that. I’ve increased the Black voter turnout in Louisiana, turned semi and infrequent voters of color into chronic voters of color, and contacted over 2 million folks throughout the state in multiple elections. I’ve provided direct funding and resources to women of color activists on the ground by providing them with the help and training to leverage and develop their current work.
I’ve been able to form partnerships with national organizations centered on civic engagement and advocacy, such as the NAACP LDF, Leadership Conference, and State Voices. I am published in local and national media platforms, such as the New York Times, Word in Black, The Advocate, and more — amplifying Black and Brown voices in our communities. What makes this work even more meaningful is that I get to work alongside powerful WOMEN from various backgrounds and races who are all focused on one goal — the freedom and liberation of people of color. None of my work and accomplishments would be made possible if it were not for my mentor, boss, sister, and C.E.O. and Founder of Power Coalition — Ashley Shelton. Thank you!
What are you currently working on?
I am working on many projects and partnerships. As mentioned earlier, I have an ongoing collaboration, sharing the stories of prominent HBCU alumni with Dr. Ashley Little, the C.E.O. of the HBCU Experience Movement, L.L.C. We launched a book in June of 2021, and I am very proud to be a best-selling author through the HBCU Experience Anthology, The HBCU Experience Movement: The Southern University System Edition. I have a host of community engagement events, civic engagement and learning events, women empowerment partnerships, and more. To follow my work, please visit https://linktr.ee/JaneaJ.
What is a quote that you live by?
“Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.” — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
When you think of women empowerment, what comes to mind?
Women empowerment is more than a “sister brunch” to brag and boast about accomplishments; it’s about sharing shortcomings, barriers, and lessons. Women empowerment is about sharing networks and resources. When others inspire us, we should also form relationships and then help the next person along the way. Your greatest investment is when you pour resources and knowledge into others and create the opportunity for them to elevate and grow.
What advice would you have for aspiring media professionals?
Simply go with your vision and move. The time may never be just right, but it will align with your purpose. Ask challenging questions, build relationships, share your vision, and the rest will follow.