< back

Alumni Spotlight: Joy Bivens

𝗔𝗹𝘂𝗺𝗻𝗶 𝗦𝗽𝗼𝘁𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁: 𝗝oy Bivens ‘99

This week we would like to shine a spotlight on another alum who is making a difference in our community.

Joy Bivens is the Director of Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services here in Columbus, Ohio. Appointed by the Commissioners to oversee Franklin County’s Social Safety Net agency, Joy works to administer public assistance programs like food assistance, cash assistance, Medicaid and Publicly Funded Child Care. The agency has a 96 million dollar budget that comes from various federal, state and local funding sources. They also provide more than $30 million in annual funding to support hundreds for family support and workforce development programs – everything from youth after-school programs and free summer camps to pre-apprenticeship and job readiness training, to financial literacy and tenant-landlord mediation. Together their agency touches the lives of more than 350,000 of our county residents. Joy also helps oversee the Commissioners’ Rise Together initiative to reduce poverty and reimagine a more equitable county.

The Franklin County’s Social Safety Net Agency has made huge adjustments due to the Coronavirus. For someone who’s lost their job because of the pandemic, the state unemployment office may be their first stop, but Joy’s agency is the second, third and fourth stop. They have seen a major increase in food assistance applications and are trying to navigate that while also fundamentally changing their staffing operations. They have more than 630 full-time employees spread out across three Opportunity Centers and their first priority is their health and safety of their families. This meant creating a staffing rotation that ensures their buildings are at less than half capacity every day, while also working to quickly scale up technology to support work-from-home.

Joy believes their team has done an admirable job, all things considered. She has noticed an increased time spent on the phone or video conferences between daily briefings with the Commissioners and public health officials, meetings with her leadership team and a whole array of community work groups that have been formed in response to the pandemic. Joy also holds weekly Virtual Check-In’s with the entire staff each Friday through Skype, where they share any new information and field questions. Joy believes as a leader it’s her responsibility to over communicate in the midst of all this uncertainty. While she prefers being able to sit down and look people in the eyes, she is trying to embrace teleworking.

Joy is married to her husband Michael Bivens ’95 L’01 (another Capital undergraduate and Capital Law School graduate) who is the first African American city government elected official in Whitehall. Michael was elected in 2016 and now serves as the Whitehall City Attorney. Joy and Michael have two children. Their daughter, MiKayla, will be graduating from Hampton University May 2020 and their son, Justin, is wrapping up his first year at North Carolina A&T. Their family also has a dog named Bella.

Thank you Joy for all the amazing work you are doing in our community! Yet another wonderful story that speaks to our #CapFam values. #CapFamConnected