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Iron Lives Executive Director, Dr. Allison Jordan Forges a New Path Focusing on Collaborative Leadership

by Alyssa Wilson, University of Lynchburg Bonner Intern 

After a career in the K-12 school system serving as a teacher and school administrator over the course of her career, Dr. Allison Jordan decided to take a leap of faith and step into the Executive Director position at IRON (I am Responsible for Overcoming Negativity) Lives, a local non-profit organization that serves secondary students in the area.  

IRON Lives focuses on positive youth development and the positive attributes of teenagers. Jordan said, “When you think about stereotypes of teenagers, you often only hear the negative. However, it’s infusing the five C’s [character, care, competence, confidence and connection] which then lead to a sixth C, contributing to community.” 

In addition to the focus on the six C’s, the organization’s tagline is “Forging young leaders”. IRON Lives prepares students for life after high school regardless of what their next step is. “We’re building young leaders and preparing them for real life. Real life may be college, it may be trade school, or going directly into the workforce out of high school,” Jordan noted. 

As a former administrator and teacher, Jordan has been able to take her knowledge of working with students and their families in order to help serve them in a different way than when she was involved in the school system. Jordan said, “Coming to a nonprofit is scary, it’s risk taking, but it's also following my calling. My calling is to make a difference for the lives of youth. Not only the youth, but the entire family, the whole community. I think I can have a voice for K-12 outside of the organizations that I couldn’t as a director or as a school administrator.”

As a parent herself who has recently been navigating parenting during a pandemic, Jordan has a good idea about what that looks like for herself as well as other families. Due to the pandemic, like many other organizations, IRON Lives is trying to find new ways to adapt to the world that nonprofits are now having to navigate. 

Jordan said, “We are thinking about how to offer on-demand programming and how to infuse some of our programming in community centers, other sites and working with other local nonprofits. When you think about a collective impact model, you think about collaborative leadership.” 

With Jordan on board at IRON Lives, the organization is able to expand on new ideas and partner with other organizations in the community such as the YMCA, LAYSi [Lynchburg Area Youth Sports Initiative] and others. “Right now we are brainstorming with these organizations to talk about how to make our programming more efficient,” Jordan said. IRON Lives also has a pilot swimming program in partnership with the YMCA which will be announced soon.

They are also working with Beacon of Hope to apply skills learned at IRON Lives into an internship program with Beacon of Hope. Moving forward, collaboration is a main goal for IRON Lives. The ultimate dream for the organization is to have a leadership program where students can have a safe, collective space to come together and be community leaders as teenagers. 

To learn more IRON Lives’s mission, programs and events visit their profile on SHARE Greater Lynchburg. 

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