Community

From school to neighborhood, a connector

Iowa City honors community efforts of Angie Jordan

For her efforts throughout the Iowa City community, Angie Jordan earlier this year received an Iowa City Human Rights Aw
For her efforts throughout the Iowa City community, Angie Jordan earlier this year received an Iowa City Human Rights Award and a BRAVO Award from the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. (Supplied photo)

IOWA CITY — Angie Jordan is a knitter.

She learned knitting from her grandmother when she moved from Iowa City to south Texas during third grade.

But Jordan, 33, also has spent her career knitting together people, resources and programs within Iowa City as a mother, volunteer, professional and community builder. For her, it’s all about helping people connect.

“It’s definitely about connection to self, others or community,” she said. “For me personally, when I’m connected and I feel like I have a sense of who I am, I can grow and conquer the world. That’s how I feel. I have that confidence.”

Jordan said her desire to help others connect comes from her experiences trying to search for her own identity. When she lived in south Texas with her mother and older sister, Jordan said, she identified closely with her Latino roots. But during her summers in Iowa City with her father and while attending Williams College in Willamstown, Mass., she was viewed more as a black woman, she said.

That dichotomy made her think about her place in the world.

“Who am I? What am I a part of?” she asked. “When someone is searching for that, whether they know it or not, I see them. I see that. I know that feeling when you don’t feel like you’re connected.”

After graduating from Williams in 2008, Jordan returned to Iowa City. She developed a mentoring program in Johnson County for the Community Corrections Improvement Association, a nonprofit associated with the 6th Judicial District. The program helped teenagers who had parents in prison.

Three years later, Jordan took a position as a family resource advocate with the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County and worked out of the Broadway Neighborhood Center.

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“I got to see how things connected at a very micro level with families ... which was a big eye opener in terms of, ‘Wow, so many people are not connected,’ ” she said.

Jordan left the workforce to start a family with her husband, Jason, an Iowa City firefighter, but it wasn’t long before she felt the call to help her community again.

With her son and daughter attending Alexander Elementary School, Jordan co-founded the school’s parent teacher organization, focusing on developing fundraising efforts and launching new traditions at the school.

It was through the PTO that she started looking at improving the neighborhood. She started asking questions about bus stops, signage and lighting, which put her in touch with Iowa City’s Department of Neighborhood and Development Services.

Neighborhood outreach coordinator Marcia Bollinger asked her about joining the South District Neighborhood Association, an amalgamation of the former Pepperwood, Wetherby, Grant Wood and South Pointe neighborhoods that formed in 2018.

“They were looking for folks to take on the reins,” Jordan said. “I had all these questions and thoughts and they were like, ‘Hey, why don’t you come on board and help develop this association?’ ”

Neighborhood association efforts include putting on events such as National Night Out, a Thanksgiving feast and a neighborhood cleanup. The association hosts an adult knitting group, supports a Little Free Library and has monthly informational meetings with child care.

In addition to building connections in the community, Jordan is a team builder. For the past decade, she has worked seasonally as an adjunct lead facilitator at the University of Iowa’s challenge course through the Lifetime Leisure Skills department. On the course, Jordan works with groups affiliated with the university or outside agencies on development, communication, conflict resolution and decision-making.

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“The challenge course, for me, is just a place that I get to witness people grow, and it inspires me and shows me there are hundreds of ways to do an initiative or group activity that I didn’t even think of,” she said.

Jordan just started a part-time administrative position with Inside Out Reentry, a nonprofit that helps people returning from prison. Her goal is to create a youth re-entry program for the group.

Jordan this year received an Iowa City Human Rights Award and a BRAVO Award from the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“For me, it’s always very challenging to accept an award as an individual ... because I’m connected to so many different mentors and support systems that, without them, I wouldn’t have been considered for that award,” she said. “It’s challenging to accept awards knowing it wasn’t just me who earned it, but it was definitely a very humbling honor. It was awesome.”

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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