As stadiums and venues across the country reopen after a long season of shuttered doors, in Seattle, girl power is leading the way. An all-female crew of four Cart Leads and a new Assistant Enterprise Manager are paving the way for Juma youth in Seattle to earn, learn, connect, and ultimately, thrive.
“I’m excited to be in a group of all female workers because sometimes the communication is really great – it just works,” explains Nadia, one of five young women who are a driving force in Seattle’s enterprise operations. With direction from Juma Seattle Staff, Nadia, Essence, Beatriz, Tiffany, and Justina are leading carts and mentoring other youth through their time with Juma.
The young women came to Juma in a variety of ways, from Tiffany who heard about Juma from a friend to Beatriz whose older sister worked for Juma previously, to Essence who was part of the first cohort of Juma youth when the Seattle office opened and is now coming back as staff in an Assistant Enterprise Manager role. In seeking out leaders, Juma incentivizes young people to excel with opportunities for advancement; the young women earned their leadership positions through showing leadership potential and outstanding work ethics in their jobs at Juma. All five young women are looking forward to meeting new people through their leadership roles and building trust with other Juma youth. “I love watching the new kids come in kind of scared and seeing them grow into the people they will be, watching them improve,” says Justina.
In addition to the excitement of finally being back in stadiums and spending time with other Juma youth in person again, the new leaders are also anticipating challenges. “Putting my foot down is hard when folks don’t want to listen,” explains Nadia as the rest of the team nods in agreement. “Especially since we’re close to the same age.” Together, they’re taking on the task of leading peers whose backgrounds and ages are similar to their own–a dynamic which can be tricky to navigate. For some of the younger leaders, this dynamic can be especially delicate. “It’s definitely hard when they’re older than me. They sometimes get annoyed that a younger person is telling them what to do,” says Beatriz.
Fortunately, the Juma team has their backs and will be there to help the new leaders navigate any tough situations. “It’s pretty cool because throughout the three years I’ve been here I’ve gotten myself back on my feet. The Juma staff helped a lot,” says Nadia. “When I need help at the carts I feel safe to ask Armando, the Enterprise Manager, straight away. He’s always there to answer my questions. I’m not scared to ask because it’s a safe place to ask questions, “ chimes in Beatriz. All five of the young women express their comfort with the Enterprise and Programs team at Juma Seattle and safety in the knowledge that, whatever situation arises, they can lean on the Seattle team for help.
In the future, all five young women have big dreams that they hope the skills they are learning as Juma leaders will help them to pursue. Essence currently attends Arizona State University online where she is taking classes to become a counselor. Tiffany plans to attend culinary school. Justina dreams of attending a college where she can pursue a double major in Music and Psychology. While Nadia and Beatriz haven’t decided what’s next after high school, both are looking forward to all of the options available to them with confidence that when they get there, they’ll have the tools and knowledge to shoot for the stars.