There is nothing more inspiring than seeing people turn their passions into purpose. This is certainly the case with Joi Gordon, Esq., CEO of Dress for Success® Worldwide, whose passion for women’s issues has driven her to grow and transform a organization that helps so many across the globe.
Joi’s enthusiasm for uplifting women almost undoubtedly stemmed from her mother. Though she had a good relationship with her father, her mother raised her and, at times, worked several jobs in order to provide for Joi and pay for her private education. One of these positions moved them from Brooklyn, New York across country to Oklahoma. After high school, Joi remained in Oklahoma and received both a BA in radio/television and a JD from the University of Oklahoma.
Her first job in law was in the district attorney’s office in the Bronx, New York. Realizing that she was not experiencing the fulfillment that she was looking for, she left her prosecutor position to work with victims of crimes at a non-profit court program, also in the Bronx. It was in this role that she felt like she was finally doing meaningful work and making a difference in people’s lives.
Joi first learned about Dress for Success in 1997 when founder Nancy Lublin was on the news talking about the organization’s mission and encouraging women to donate their suits. Thinking it was a great idea, Joi later met Nancy and was inspired to become involved by serving on the organization’s board. Through this involvement her passion for growing the organization deepened. In 1999, she joined Dress for Success full-time as the executive director of the New York program and became the CEO of the organization’s worldwide headquarters in 2002.
The mission of Dress for Success is to “promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” Each client receives one suit for an interview as well as one after she receives a job. The organization has serviced close to 450,000 women globally in the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Under Joi Gordon’s leadership the organization has expanded its emphasis from career attire to career development and job retention, literally transforming lives of numerous women around the world. “We just could not be a closet organization,” says Gordon. “My goal is to not only put a suit on a woman. I want that woman to know that she has the potential for greatness, that she can take control of her life by taking classes, workshops, and developing other skills. That is the business model for DFS.”
Residing in Queens, Joi is loving wife and mother of two. As if leading a global non-profit was not enough, she and her husband, Errol, own and operate a fleet of luxury limousines. Beyond her position with DFS and family business she also serves on the board of directors of Urban Brands and America’s Charities and sits on the women’s advisory councils of Office Depot, American Airlines and VOICE. The Harlem YMCA, Office Depot and the Coalition of 100 Black Women in New York City are amongst the many organizations that have recognized her significant accomplishments. Additionally, in 2007 she received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
Joi Gordon is an inspirational leader of an inspirational organization. If you want to be involved in Dress for Success, find an affiliate location near you.