Steal her secrets series: Philanthropy Director answers 25 career questions

Credit: Jonse Young

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – Her suit fits just right, she knows everyone in the room, and you can just tell she’s got it going on! You wish you could be her, or simply wish you knew her secret to success.

WOTV 4 Women wants to give you a deeper look at the many power women who are helping make West Michigan a thriving place for women at work. We’re having these women dish the details on work life, home life, and everything in between. What has really led to their success?

25 Questions with Johngerlyn “Jonse” Young

Credit: Jonse Young

Meet Johngerlyn “Jonse” Young. She’s the Director of Philanthropic Services for the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, and a inspiring role model for all West Michigan women. Check out our interview with the fabulous leader below.

Question 1: Describe your job and why you love it.

I am the Director of Philanthropic Services with Grand Rapids Community Foundation. I lead the Philanthropic Services team in building and maintaining relationships with our donor advisors and their families. I serve as their philanthropic advisor as it relates to their areas of interest and grant making. I am also the Co-Champion of Diversity and Inclusion. This role allows me to help lead the foundation in the area of diversity and inclusion.

I love my roles at the foundation. I love people, our community, and I particularly love connecting our donors with causes they care about. My D&I role is near to my heart as well and allows me to personally and professionally develop and help shape the foundation’s D&I efforts. It’s a journey, and I am passionate about this work and my involvement.

Question 2: Dig through your purse and tell us three must-have items you found and 1 item you were surprised to find.

Wallet, keys, make-up. I was surprised to find a tea bag.

Question 3: When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a singer and a teacher. I love to sing and have been singing since I was 5 years old. I also really admired my teachers. They encouraged me and saw things in me that I didn’t see. I attribute much of what I’ve accomplished thus far to them. Therefore, being a teacher was high on my list.

Question 4: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Find your passion. Once you’ve found that, intentionally seek training and a vocation that brings your passion to life.

Question 5: What’s the job you’ve had (in your lifetime) that still gives you nightmares?

Well I don’t have nightmares, but my job at a local restaurant was stressful and challenging. Customers were rude and demanding and we were taught that the customer is “always right”.

Question 6: What’s the best thing you’ve done to advance your career?

I feel that being determined about my education has allowed me to advance. Without that foundation of education, I am positive less doors would have been opened for me.

Question 7: Flats or heels?

Heels for sure. Flats make my feet hurt. Also, I come from a family of dressers. They liked the heels, make up, nice clothing… they were always well put together. Heels are definitely a part of my family heritage.

Question 8: Crying at work? Okay or not okay?

It’s okay to cry at work. I’ve cried at work several times. Sometimes tests of joy and sometimes of sorrow. Lamenting is a natural way for one to release and heal. Holding back tears can be painful and detrimental to ones physical being and spirit. Cry if you need to! Release!

Question 9: Work/life balance? How do you make it work? What time do you “clock out”?

Wow! Work/life balance is important. However, as women, we often fail miserably in this area. Why? Because we are naturally quite nurturing, which draws us in deeply to our work and life situations. We go in hard. Sometimes to our own detriment. I’ve learned to step back an analyze more, then figure out a way to balance things out.

Question 10: Eating lunch at your desk? A do or a don’t?

Eating lunch at your desk can be isolating and unhealthy. It really doesn’t allow your body to take a break, nor does it allow you to socialize with others. I’m a people person, but I find myself, particularly in the winter, eating at my desk. I try to push myself to do otherwise, and really enjoy when I do.

Question 11: What makes you grateful?

I have a strong faith in God, and that makes me grateful for the smallest and the largest things in life. I try not to take things or people for granted, because it’s all a blessing. Although, what makes me the most grateful is when people love on each other.

Question 12: What was your biggest blunder in a job interview? What did it teach you?

I tend to ramble a bit, especially when I am not comfortable with a question that is asked in an interview. I’ve learned to ask, “tell me more” about the question. This elevates the rambling and allows me to intelligently answer the question.

Question 13: Describe your morning routine.

I wake up and give God thanks for another day. I call in to a national prayer line. I regularly read from a devotional book “Jesus Calling”. I check my calendar and get dressed. I’m not a big breakfast person, so I eat something quick to take my vitamins. I head to work.

Question 14: Proudest career moment to date.

My proudest career moment was last year when I was accepted into a national cohort, Council on Foundations Career Pathways. The program seeks to develop a generation of diverse leaders who are committed to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion within their own organizations and the broader philanthropic sector. I am one of 24 chosen throughout the U.S. It’s an eight month term with 3 in-person sessions and one virtual session. Participants are matched with an executive coach who coaches and advises us throughout our career path.

Question 15: What’s the most important thing in your life right now?

The most important thing in my life right now is my relationship with Christ, which dictates/determines my relationship with others and the world.

Question 16: What time did you wake up today?

I woke up at 6:30 am. this morning.

Question 17: What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone?

The first thing I notice when I first meet someone is if they smile or not.

Question 18: What are you reading right now?

I am reading my Bible, various articles, and blogs on equity and inclusion.

Question 19: In a typical day how many emails do you answer?

In typical day I answer about 15 work related emails and about 5-7 personal emails.

Question 20: What’s your favorite TV show?

My favorite TV show is Family Feud. I like the trivia/question aspect via surveys of a certain group. Also, Steve Harvey is hilarious and a sharp dresser.

Question 21: What’s your favorite spot for a meeting in West Michigan?

My favorite spot for a meeting in West Michigan is Gull Lake Camp Center. Although I am not an fan of camping, I really like the water and nature scene. So peaceful!

Question 22: What’s your favorite app?

My favorite app is Amazon. I’ve always liked to shop. Therefore, Amazon is my go-to! As a Prime Member, I get my items delivered to me within 2 days. I often shop for my Mom, who lives about 30 minutes away from me, and does not get out much. It’s very convenient!

Question 23: What experience in life made you the most nervous?

The experience in life that made me the most nervous was thyroid surgery. With the exception of the c-section birth of my now 19 year old son, I had gone under anesthesia. This made me nervous!

Question 24: What’s one question you always ask in an interview?

In an interview, I always ask about a person’s passion. What are your likes and dislikes?

Question 25: What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is meeting a variety of donors and their families who are philanthropic and care about our community. In particular, those who are most vulnerable!


Do you know a West Michigan Power woman who deserves to be featured in our series?  Email us her name/business and contact info!

Other women featured in this series!

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Founder of community arts center answers 25 career questions

West Michigan TV station general manager answers 25 career questions

West Michigan radio host answer 25 career questions

West Michigan lawyer answer 25 career questions

West Michigan coffee shop owner answers 25 career questions

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