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Alumni Wisdom: Jo Levin '15

Posted August 26, 2022 in Articles

Alumni Wisdom: Jo Levin '15
Alumni Wisdom: Jo Levin '15
Alumni Wisdom: Jo Levin '15
Alumni Wisdom: Jo Levin '15
Alumni Wisdom: Jo Levin '15
Alumni Wisdom: Jo Levin '15

Lawrence School ‘15
A.A. Cuyahoga Community College ‘19

B.A. Kent State ‘21

Since graduating from Lawrence, what have you been up to?

I’m the Marketing & Communication Coordinator at Drink Local. Drink Tap. Inc., a Cleveland-based nonprofit that improves water equity through projects, programming, and partnerships. I started this position earlier this year, and I’ve been with the organization in other roles since 2019.

This work is my dream, but getting here has been a journey.

My first semesters at Kent State were challenging. College was a new world full of distractions, and it was difficult to get my footing. I knew I needed to refocus, so I transferred to Cuyahoga Community College. I also began working several jobs to get more experience while I earned my associate’s degree. This made me even more determined to succeed professionally.

Lawrence taught me that when I ask for help, good things follow. So, I re-enrolled at Kent, got the support and tools I needed, and graduated last year with a degree in applied communications.

Tell us more about your work.

Drink Local. Drink Tap. Inc. educates and engages people on the importance of clean water as a human right. Every day, I help people learn about our work in rural Uganda, with audiences on multiple continents. I run six social media accounts with a reach of over 200,000 people, and I can’t overstate what that means to me.

I amplify the storytelling of our corporate partnerships for our biggest events. Our Wavemaker Program partners with area schools and has impacted over 18,000 youth learners. Our Giving Splash Party is our annual gala and helps us share our vision. We also host monthly public and private beach cleanups, which have ensured nearly 500,000 pieces of trash have been picked up. Lastly, our 4 Miles 4 Water event is a walk/run that we host each June and simulates the distance many people around the world travel for water.

Additionally, I own Ember Collaborative, a digital communication studio, with my friend of over 12 years, Megan Jones. Together, we designed, illustrated, and published Drink Local. Drink Tap. Inc.’s Make Waves 4 Change: Develop Your Action Plan to Change the World.

What do you want everyone to know about the world water crisis?

Autonomy is something that’s important but isn’t discussed much. People who live in rural Uganda often don't have consistent access to water. Because of this, they don’t have the personal autonomy to keep themselves clean, receive an education, or be self-sufficient—and that’s such a crucial aspect of our human rights. At Drink Local. Drink Tap. Inc., our goal is to provide easily-accessible resources that allow individuals to maintain the borewells we construct, learn sanitation, and more. Once that’s achieved, then we can continue offering life-changing support.

How can people help, especially in Northeast Ohio?

It starts by following Drink Local. Drink Tap. Inc. on social media and volunteering. Our beach clean ups and 4 Miles 4 Water event are great opportunities to get involved. You can also fundraise for a well within your classroom or community. Then, if anyone is interested in doing more, we work with them to best utilize their skills.

What inspired you to get involved in non-profit work?

Being active at Lawrence helped spark the desire, really. I was part of a few groups and was a founding member of the Allies Club, which began as a small, after-school, weekly meeting where students could learn about different terms and LGBTQ history. By my senior year, it grew into a classroom full of kids establishing new diversity and inclusion events at Lawrence. The conversations were student-led, which was amazing. From there, I knew I wanted to continue being part of the conversation on the issues I’m most passionate about.

What do you enjoy most about social media?

Our platforms open a window. If social media inspires someone to do or learn something, I think that's valuable. I remember, years ago, sitting at home watching a stream in real-time of a cultural celebration on the other side of the world. I’d never seen anything like that, but I wanted to know more, and it happened because of social media. That’s the connection I love to create and what I strive for with my work.

How did Lawrence prepare you for your career?

Communications is an ever-evolving field, and I stay organized with the techniques I learned at Lawrence. It’s been years since Ms. Garza taught me everything Google products can do, but Gmail and Google Calendar are my professional lifelines. I take advantage of assistive technology whenever possible. If I can have my computer read my emails out loud, I will. I don't attempt to type words I can't spell; I say them into my phone. Lawrence taught me the best way to succeed is by making life work for you.

What advice do you have for younger people with learning differences?

You’re never done learning. What works for one problem might not for the next, and that’s ok. Trying something new, taking a different approach, can be exactly what you need.

How do you spend your free time?

I’m almost always around water. If there's a river or a lake, I’m there. I love kayaking, camping, anything outdoors. I don’t have a dog (yet!), but many of my loved ones do, so spending time with them and their dogs is great.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Five years ago, if you asked for my dream situation, it would be this. I live in my ideal place around my ideal people. At some point, I do hope to work with other nonprofits—possibly return to LGBTQ+ issues, voting, or reproductive rights. If I can help people, I want to.

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