ATLANTA – Jasmine Payne (M.P.A. ‘18), Julissa White-Smith (M.P.A. ‘14), and Grace Paulsen (M.S.W. ‘19) were recently awarded the Young Nonprofit Professional Network’s (YNPN) 30 Under 30 Award for their outstanding contributions to Georgia’s nonprofit sector. Their work will continue to affect the populations they serve for generations to come.
Jasmine Payne serves as a program officer for citizen advocacy at CARE, a global humanitarian organization that fights world hunger with an emphasis on empowering women and social justice issues.
“I love that my work here is affecting people globally,” she said. “My work is helping a young girl go to school, protecting a mother from violence, and creating new pathways for the next generation to have more mobility, socially and economically.”
Payne’s collaborative work with the women she serves creates ripple effects that make the world a better place, she feels.
“I know I’m one piece of many collaborations that affect change on a global level. My voice, experience and passion help drive it forward one day at a time.”
Julissa White-Smith works as an independent contractor with nonprofit organizations, developing fundraising plans and marketing strategies.
“I love bringing executive-level experience and training to organizations focused on youth education and healthy lifestyles,” she said. “My degree provides me with the ability to serve a charitable purpose through a professional and organized business strategy.”
White-Smith sees receiving the 30 Under 30 award as a way to connect with others who share her passions, and she hopes to continue to serve nonprofits with her expertise.
“In the next decade, I aspire to build on my education and experience with a fundraising certification and further specify my career into supporting philanthropy.”
Grace Paulsen has worked for the International Rescue Committee in Atlanta for the past five years, first as an AmeriCorps member and now as the organization’s reproductive health educator.
“One aspect of my work that brings me joy is when I get to collaborate with our youth peer educators. They are refugee young adults trained to be educators on sexual and reproductive health in their communities,” Paulsen said. “I am inspired by these young people and support their leadership as community health educators.”
Paulsen has also developed a YouTube series by and for refugee women that educates on sexual and reproductive health in a culturally sensitive manner. She hopes to expand her efforts to bring sexual and reproductive health education to women in prison.
“The most impactful part of my position is seeing clients feel empowered because they were able to advocate for their health needs and be informed about their sexual and reproductive health rights,” she said.
In addition to the well-deserved recognition, winning the award allows these three alumnae to attend several exclusive YNPN educational events in the upcoming year, helping them continue to grow their professional skills and passions.
Story by Sumar Deen