Shortly after Janice Frazier joined Urban League of the Pikes Peak Region’s leadership team in 2011, the nonprofit fell apart — but that didn’t break her indomitable spirit.
Instead, the North Carolina native took over and became the voice of the organization, dedicated to resurrecting its team and community center — and regaining the public’s trust.
“The community had turned its back on the organization because board members had left and we were disaffiliated from the National Urban League in 2012,” Frazier said.
The nonprofit was notified to cease using the Urban League brand the evening before a large fundraiser. Frazier responded with integrity.
“I remember thinking, ‘I’ve got to hold to our mission and commitment — to speak in front of everyone at the breakfast and let them know exactly what happened and be transparent,’” she said. “So that day, I announced we’d been disaffiliated and told attendees, ‘If you can’t support this effort, we understand, but we’re going to move forward.’”
The event was a success, resulting in the organization’s biggest fundraiser yet. And through the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, the nonprofit took on a new name, Urbanites Leading the Pikes Peak Region. But the group remains dedicated to its mission.
Under Frazier’s leadership, ULPPR’s abandoned childcare development center at 506 E. Moreno Ave. was renovated and the organization gained a new board, new programs and new services.
“She turned the organization around,” said Doris Ralston, executive director of Colorado Springs Osteopathic Foundation and award nominator. “The community now recognizes that her perseverance and passion for regaining their trust and providing programs, services and resources through the ULPPR is validation of her commitment.”
ULPPR provides educational programs and support for the socio-economically disadvantaged, run solely by an unpaid board and volunteers.
[su_note note_color=”#7db9ff”]Personal Mantra: “My personal philosophy is to never feel that I know everything, because I don’t. There is always room to learn more and to grow. Throughout my life, I have surrounded myself with people who are more educated and who have a keen wisdom about all facets of life.”[/su_note]
Its center leases rooms for church functions, computer training, meetings and mentoring programs.
“What feeds my passion and keeps me motivated to work hard is that I do not like to fail,” Frazier said. “When I committed to resurrect this organization, I meant it, no matter what obstacles existed. We’ve been in operation through the grace of God and have managed to survive and thrive.
“I like to think that my ability to lead in a utilitarian way contributes to the good that comes out of doing what’s right.”
After 33 years working in public education for Detroit Public Schools, Widefield School District 3 and District 11, Frazier attended college at the age of 59.
She enrolled in Colorado Technical University to pursue an associate’s degree in business administration, then pursued a bachelor’s degree, graduating magna cum laude.
She’s now working on a Master of Business Administration degree in entrepreneurship.
“What impresses me most about JJ is her insatiable desire to learn,” said Jim Mason, ULPPR board member and award nominator.
“Her intense dedication to improve the lives of others through personal example drives her intellectual curiosity.”
-— Amber Baillie