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Community Action's Black History Month Spotlight: Jaana Kelley

About: Jaana Kelley 

Jaana joined the Community Action Lehigh Valley team in June 2021, taking on the role of Associate Executive Director for Community Services. Her extensive background includes program analysis, directing admissions, and social work. A proud graduate of Delaware State University, she holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Social Work.

In her current role, Jaana is tasked with leading the Community Action Lehigh Valley's diverse community service programs. These include the Sixth Street Shelter, Racial Ethnic Justice, CADA, CADB, and Slate Belt Rising; her primary objective is to ensure the delivery of exceptional services across these interconnected programs. She achieves strategic goals by overseeing program directors, enhancing existing services, and spearheading the development of new initiatives. We sat down with Jaana and asked her a few questions as they relate to being a Black community member in a nonprofit leadership position. 

Vision and Future Goals

What is your vision for the future of anti-poverty work, particularly in communities of color? 

My goal is to increase the knowledge and understanding of financial literacy.  Laying the foundation and equipping my community on money matters could be a game changer.  Many factors contribute to why individuals feel like they can't, BUT ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.  Envisioning this opportunity for my community to learn about debt, savings, budgeting and investing could change the trajectory of their lives and create generational wealth.  



 What advice would you give to young Black individuals aspiring to leadership roles within the nonprofit sector, or any sector? 

  • KNOW WHO YOU ARE! KNOW YOUR WORTH! Imposter syndrome is a very real thing.   

  • Seek mentorship; this influence will provide support, guidance, and accountability as one journeys through life and career.   

  • Be open to constructive criticism and critique - this will allow for specific advice that will contribute to your overall improvement. (Experience is not always the best teacher - let someone else's journey help you avoid mistakes!) 

  • Know when to lead and know when to follow. 

  • Always have a vision and be able to effectively communicate that vision. 

  • Have a diverse team - everyone should bring a level of expertise that contributes to the vision. 

  • Always walk in with INTEGRITY! It goes a long way. 


Challenges in the Nonprofit Sector

 What have you learned about yourself through your work in the nonprofit sector?  

  • Growing up, I remember hearing "A closed mouth does not get fed." I have had to ask for what I wanted/needed throughout my career despite the response! I've been my biggest advocate; and sometimes it came with a price.  

  • I have also learned that when you do what's right, you are not going to be liked by many; therefore, getting over people pleasing is essential.  

  • Passions will change - since the start of my career until now, I have evolved. My knowledge and experience have increased, and desires and passions have shifted. Remain open, flexible and adaptable – THE SKY IS THE LIMIT! 

To reach out to Jaana, please call 610-691-5620 or connect with her on Linkedin.

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