Perspective: Joe Black returns to NYC for National Urban Fellows program

Joe Black, engagement manager

On May 24th, 2016, I jumped on a plane to begin my journey as a National Urban Fellow. Looking back at that day, I vividly remember attempting to balance the joy and anxiety of what I knew would be an advantageous experience.  Now that a year has passed, I must once again begin to prepare to leave for New York City. This time my feelings of joy have been consumed by gratefulness and what was once anxiety is now peace. In short, this past year has been nothing less than miraculous and here are a few reasons why.

Joe Black, Promise engagement manager, in New York City in 2016
Joe Black, engagement manager, in New York City for the National Urban Fellows program. 

The leadership at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland has consistently provided me with opportunities to network with and learn from some of the brightest leaders in the city. These relationships have served as the foundation to some of my most significant achievements over the past year. Furthermore, I have been challenged to step out of my comfort zone and instead embrace innovation “a learned, best practice.”

Secondly, this past year has challenged me more academically than I have ever been challenged in my life. I have written and read more than I can imagine yet what I found most interesting is that my mind has become accustomed to the learning and now I seek knowledge more than ever. Furthermore, I find that my coursework challenged me to understand data and how to use such information to better improve my decision making. With this unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a greater sense of knowing what to do with it, I feel equipped with the skills to help the community in ways unimagined.

Lastly, this past year has been one of action, a year where I have taken upon myself to no longer talk about change but to instead act in pursuit of change. Actions like hosting community tours for Cleveland Police is one example, but there are also subtle examples of that are as important. Actions like committing my time and energy to my family or fulfilling promises that I left undone. Regardless of the size of the action, I find that the most important aspect of action is committing to completion.

Therefore this summer during my time away I will finish my Master’s in Public Administration. I will walk across that stage on July 27th knowing that I upheld my commitment to myself, my family, my organization, and my community.

Read a Q&A with Joe about his experience last summer in NYC here.