Meet Our AmeriCorps Members: Briana Janeé Shields

 Why did you apply to be an AmeriCorps Member? I applied to be an Americorps Member because I wanted to make a difference in my community, the Austin Community. 

 What neighborhood network are you placed with? Austin 

 What is your role as an AmeriCorps Member? I am serving at Austin Coming Together as their Communications Associate and Graphic Designer. I use mailchimp and my illustration & graphic design skills to advance the non-profits marketing strategies. ACT has a weekly e-blast and monthly newsletter that keeps the community and ACT network updated on their current events. I got the opportunity to re-design the overall look of these two mailchimp campaigns to reflect the ACT brand and create consistent templates that will be used for now on. I must say, it has made the posting process every week go a lot smoother. My other role of responsibilities is graphic design which includes designing collateral material, infographics, event signage, and social media graphics.The fun part about creating all of this material is seeing the positive impact it makes on for the organization.  For example, when I created the ACT’s Missions infographic for our Special Section Newspaper we got a lot of feedback on being able to see the data explaining the progress we’re making in Austin’s four problem areas. It makes me happy to see that my work helps to bridge the gap of communication between the community and the organization. 

What have you learned in your role? The most valuable lesson I’ve learned this year in my role is to RESPECT THE PROCESS!!!!! I had to let go of what I wanted and how I thought things should go and just go with the flow. It was hard to take the imaginary weight off of my shoulders, but once I did I started having fun during this journey.

 What do you want individuals to know about your neighborhood network? Working at Austin Coming Together has been an amazing experience. I have never worked among so many like minded individuals who share the same values of cultivating Black empowerment and restoring unity in the Austin community. They definitely embody their values not just in their words, but in their actions.  Most importantly, ACT has taught me that mentorship at its core is about love and I will forever cherish the moments I spent with my team members. 

 What do you hope to accomplish during your year of service? I hope to be the change that I want to see in my community. I say that it’s something I hope to accomplish because I first had to identify what I want to change about my community, why we need this change, and how can I generate the change I want to see. During my year of service I have been keeping an eye out for the right opportunity that aligns with my passions as well as meet the needs of my community.  Working at ACT has exposed me to the specific needs of the community and efforts that are addressing them. I have been drown to two initiatives so far, one is being an active voice in the Austin Quality of Life Plan. This plan will serve as a document that describes tangible projects and programs that have widespread community support in Austin to be advocated for and implemented over the next 5 years. The other initiative I play a key role in and will be tied into the Quality of Life Plan is the Austin Community Food Co-op, which is a major need in my community. Austin is the largest community area geographically. Meanwhile, we lack many of the basic resources that stabilize a neighborhood, including a affordable and nutritious place to purchase food. As a community member and creative director of the Austin Community Food Co-op, I am working to accomplish the co-op because I need to provide my Austin neighborhood with reliable high quality food finally!

 What were you doing prior to the AmeriCorps Program? I was doing a graphic design internship for a vegan cosmetic line, The Lip Bar. Meanwhile, I was also starting Briana Janeé Arts freelance illustration and graphic design business. I was in the very early stages and so far only had one commissioned job, which was with the Aids Foundation of Chicago.  


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