Pink Ribbons Project is proud to introduce its new Executive Director, Fort Bend resident, Jonita Fair-Payton, who joined the local breast cancer organization effective March 25. After an exhaustive search and interviews with many very impressive candidates, Fair-Payton ultimately won over the hearts of the staff and board at Pink Ribbons Project. She not only brings a wealth of experience to the position, but she has an all too personal connection to the disease as well.
“I’m very excited to be joining the Pink Ribbons Project team and to have a pivotal role in creating more awareness of the disease, as well as helping to raise money for the services provided to those in Houston who need help the most,” said Jonita Fair-Payton, Pink Ribbons Project Executive Director. “My sister and I are very close, like ice cream and cake, so when she was diagnosed with breast cancer just last year, it brought breast cancer to the forefront in a whole new way for me. After surgery and treatment, I’m happy to say that she is doing great and has received a clean bill of health from her doctor, but in some ways her journey has only just begun. Being a part of an organization whose focus is to improve the lives of those affected by breast cancer, just felt like a natural fit for me.”
Fair-Payton’s sister is not the first to be diagnosed in their family. Sadly, she has lost an aunt and a cousin to the disease, while two other aunts and two other cousins are breast cancer survivors. She sees Pink Ribbons Project as the perfect position for her to do the work that is so close to her heart. “When I think about it, had my sister not had her mammogram, where would we be? Access to those resources are crucial,” she added. She finds it interesting that most often people believe that the journey ends with breast cancer surgery, but in her eyes, it’s only just the beginning and it stays a lot longer than people realize, for most, a lifetime. She recognizes that she has an amazing opportunity to make change and feels like she is doing her part to help others in need from a disease that has had such a profound impact on her own family.
No one knows that better than Susan Rafte, Pink Ribbons Project Survivor Founder. Although Rafte is the survivor and her sister Jane Weiner is her sister who helped create Pink Ribbons Project, Fair-Payton’s situation is very familiar. “On paper Jonita came across as quite accomplished and a genuine asset to Pink Ribbon’s Project, but when we heard her story of her personal connection as well, we knew that she would bring a very real perspective to her position and that would serve her and us well. We are thrilled to welcome her to the Pink Ribbons Project family and look forward to working together to further our mission.”
Most recently, Fair-Payton was the Director of Planning, Research and Grant Development with Neighborhood Centers. Her role was multi-faceted and she was part of the team that was responsible for the governance of a $220 million dollar agency. She also helped re-shape the Agency to provide a positive functional impact across all programs and helped solicit public funding to generate new opportunities for service solutions. Her position also included working to restructure the evaluation processes for all 21 agency programs and working on the development of a $50 million prospectus for unrestricted funding to support the agency’s strategic initiatives.
Prior to Neighborhood Centers, Inc, Fair-Payton gained a world of experience from several other non-profits in the area, including: I Am Pleased, Houston Area Urban League, Northwest Assistance Ministries and Jewish Vocational Services in California. All applicable experience that will help her in keeping the mission of Pink Ribbons Project alive and thriving. Academically Fair-Payton is accomplished as well, with a B.A. degree from the University of California in Berkeley, an M.S. in Community Development from Prairie View A&M University and an M.B.A. from the University of Houston.
“Sadly, the reality is that many Houstonians still do not have the necessary access to preventative health services,” said Fair-Payton. “Pink Ribbons Project provides awareness through the arts and survivorship programs as a way to increase access and support different programs throughout the city. Pink Ribbons Project is so precious to so many, and I look forward to capturing that and adding to the strength of the organization.”